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(William Marshall Newton)
January 9, 1928 to September 7, 2011
"Bill" -Pictures by Mildred Newton 1970-1985
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The Newton Heritage come from the early 1600's when likely a ship boy or an indentured servant arrived in Virginia and was able to move up into being a farmer. The Newton's were located in Luneburg, Virginia for over 150 years until Henry Newton moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky and married Elizabeth Routt, the sister of COL John Routt one of Grant's Ohio Army leaders. COL Routt moved to Bloomington, Ill where he became the Marshall. It is interesting that Henry and Elizabeth followed and worked as farmers. When Grant appointed COL Routt to become the Territorial Governor of Colorado, at some time they moved their farm to Colorado. At one point the family showed Leadville as a farm residence and then into southern Colorado at Del Norte. It was a beautiful place but as time went on family farming and ranching declined and couldn't keep them all employed. Cattle could now be moved by means other than rail and so Austin and Mildred moved to California where he found employment with Standard Oil of California as a pipe fitter looking for some of the the new California prosperity and opportunity. William Marshall Newton entered this world on January 9, 1928 as the child of Austin Marshall Newton and Mildred Vivian Newton (McDougal). He was named for his grandfather William McDougal. He was born in Whittier at a time when the world was in a great boom and the change of the new modern inventions were bringing great optimism to this country and the world. Before he was two the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. The family lived in uptown Whittier with the Mcdougal's for a few years. With the arrival of "Billy" they needed to find their own home and soon they bought a small one bedroom house with 3/4 of an acre in South Whittier on Laurel Avenue. They soon had Mildred's Father apply his contractor skill and add on another bedroom and a breakfast room to give them some space. Newt later built a garage with a shower calling it the Dog House. Working for Standard Oil gave Austin access to the pipes and he would bring home gas after he installed a fuel tank and pump in the garage. Richard and Bill grew up in what amounted to the country. The Newton's kept a few animals like a cow and some chickens so they were familiar with the care of live stock. Newt's background with cattle in Colorado insured this. With the large tracts of land came the explorations the boys made and eventually across the street, they built a running track, long jump and pole vault pits and a shot put ring. They learned to be very competitive and without a lot of money during the dark years of the depression they entertained themselves developing their natural speed and jumping skills. This competition had many tales attached to it as when the boys would chase each other with knives treatening to kill one another and later when playing street football, Bill sliced open his nose and was almost blinded when he crashed into a steel mail box. Mildred was sure Bill would never live to be 20. Fortunately, after 8 years of chaotic boyhood Sharon was born to counterbalance them.
Travel and Fishing
Austin "Newt" was interested in travel and especially in the wilderness of the desert and the Sierras. He would pack the family up for a vacation in the Model A and drive on the dirt desert trails to places like Onion Valley, near Kearsarge Pass, Red's Meadows behind Mammoth Mountain and Death Valley. All of this was very undeveloped and canvas water bags were hung from the front of the car as they bounced on the sandy desert roads. Sometimes other members of Austin's family would go along. It was safer to travel in a caravan. Bill learned his love of fishing at this time as he was allowed to seek trout in the San Joaquin River headwaters near Red's Meadows and other locations. There was also the excursions to surf fish and so this fishing obsession grew stronger as he grew up.
By High School WWII had broken out and the men had mostly gone off to war. Richard and Bill continued to be interested in running sports so they joined the track and football teams. Bill became quit well known as someone to give the ball to and the team had good success.
Richard and Bill ran practices but without a coach they really didn't know what they were doing. They wore regular leather shoes. Track shoes were available but cost money and the schools didn't have the coach to advise them. But they would win most of the time. Bill tied a school record running the 100 yard dash in 10.0 seconds flat. A record which would stand tied with 7 others until 1967 when his nephew, Mike Newton, cut a tenth of a second off it running a 9.9. The Newton family still had the record at Whittier High School. Curiously that only lasted until 1968 when Billy Simms, Mike Newton's team mate from the year before broke it with a 9.8.
Bill learned to drive during the War. Rationing was enforced strictly and that made it hard for most people to do much pleasure driving. Tires at best would last only 4000 miles. Gas was sold with ration books and only so many gallons were given. Usually just enough to get workers to their jobs. With Austin's access to the fuel lines and the pump in the garage, Bill found he could drive to the family vacation spots and fish. there were not many visitors in those days and he learned to fend for himself in these wilderness locations. If he were short of rationed gas he would fill gas cans out of the garage and put them in the trunk. He realized later that this was really dangerous.
The Army Years
Being on the Football team and being one of the good players had some advantages. The cheerleader's hung around you and it was then that Bill met Marilyn who became his lifelong friend and partner. Richard was drafted into the Navy during the later part of WWII and was able to advise Bill after he graduated from High School about getting a volunteer job in the Army rather than letting the draft board place him. Bill joined the Army and was trained as an MP. He sailed on an old troop transport to Korea in 1946. He described this as 2 weeks of leaning over the rail and heaving or watching the other guys leaning and heaving. The food was dehydrated rations and it was not good. Several significant stories are told by Bill about this time. It was a primitive country still struggling from the abuse the Japanese heaped upon it during the war. The people were poor and the post-War army was under funded. Bill says as an MP all he was issued was a Field Jacket without a liner and regular boot. He tells of standing guard duty in the snow with the wind blowing below zero and having to kick his feet in order to feel them. The rice paddies had honey pots by them so the fields could be fertilized and the smells were overwhelming. He was pulling guard duty one Saturday and his company of MPs were assigned to watch over the supply cars which were stopped on a siding by the division parade and sports field. He had heard about this Division Track meet and wanted to participate so he told the other guards to watch his post while he went down to register. He stripped down to his shorts and won or placed in the 100, 200, shot put, long jump and pole vault. His performance caused his company to come in 3rd place and led to the command noticing his performance. The following Monday he was called into the commander's office. He thought he was in trouble and would be reprimanded but, no, he was given an award and praised. Shortly after that he was assigned to the division football team and given Officer Quarters and equipment. He now had a cold weather parka and hood, liner and inserts for his boots. He was never cold again. The football competition in the Army was fought hard and the bragging rights for the commanders often led to promotions. This was Task Force Smith, the worst army of the century, but the most sports minded. The movie MASH tells of one such team during the Korean War. Bill tells that several West Pointers were brought in to be on the team and the coach had been on the West Point coaching staff. They were good and Billy was the half-back. They won Korea and the championship was scheduled in Tokyo. The game would come after Bill was to be released from the Army so he was involuntary extended in the army and his 18 month enlistment was extended to 19 month so he could play the game. They did win and it was one of the proud moments of his life. A story we're not sure he understood was on being transported home his ship was diverted to Shanghai harbor where they picked up some Marines. The part of the story he didn't tell was they were being extracted from having fought with Chang, Kai Sheck who retreated to Taiwan and found the free part of China. Mao had pushed the Marines off the Mainland and so Bill was on one of the transports during that operation. He mentions they stopped in the Philipines and then came home.
On May 27, 1948 Marilyn and Bill were married at Calvary Baptist Church in Whittier. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Seamens and with great fanfare the Newtons went on a honeymoon to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, they didn't know you should make reservations at the hotels. It was Memorial Day Weekend and everything was full. They turned north to Zion and returned after a bit. More bad fortune occurred when they broke a spring on the car and were limping along.
The College Years - He attended Fullerton 1947-48 playing football and running track. He got A's without even looking at the book and Marilyn says she worked hard and read it and got B's. Later we came to wonder if he got A's for playing football!
They set up housekeeping in Whittier in a rented house while Bill studied Auto Mechanics on his GI Bill. After a year of auto he went looking for a job at his dream location in Mammoth but he didn't find anything. After working at a Shell station for six month he learned he was too honest to stay. He soon had employment with the Southern California Edison Company working out of the Washington Blvd Yard in Whittier. With a real job, they soon bought the house he would live in the rest of his life, 738 Dittmar Drive. It was a two bedroom 650 sq ft with a 60 by 120 foot lot built in an Orange Orchard. The house came with two mature trees. A railroad track which ran from Los Angeles to Anaheim was located on the back boundary and this gave the appearance of space. Walls went up after a couple of years and the back fence was installed.
The Family Comes Along
Three years after buying the house their first child, Dennis, came along and then 3 and a half years later they had the daughter Marilyn wanted, Gayle. They had the perfect family - two kids, a house, a car and a boat. What more could you want, the American Dream.
The Year of Recuperation
Working as a lineman and cable splicer became his career. He learned the trade well and became a respected member of the company. But the job was not easy on his old football injuries. He had a trick knee from a bad tackle and this would pop out occasionally and he must of injured his back at some time. The strain of leaning far out on poles caused his lower two disks to bulge and after 10 years with Edison he had to have a double fusion back surgery. He was put on a year of recuperation.
The Cars, Boats and Campers
The car that Bill bought after the Army was a 1940 Mercury. It was dark green and as shiny as he could polish it. There were actually many cars. Bill loved to visit the Lion's drag strip and watch the competitions. He read the car magazines and he knew from His training how to fix them all. As he moved into the Dittmar house he soon had a reputation as a place his friends and work mates could find for a tune up or get their brakes changed. He kept his boat in the garage and on the Saturday's when he wasn't fixing cars he was out fishing the harbor or the breakwater. As the family grew, he built his own GlenL Design boat and trailer and purchased a 1956 Chevy with which he could tow. He borrowed a little money from his mother and soon the family was traveling to the Salton Sea and Clear Lake on regular outings. Most of the 3 day weekends found the Newtons in the Desert or in the Mountains. Bill became a very good water skier and enjoyed it so much he began to overlook some of his fishing.
Adventures and Vacations Probably around 1961-2 Several families went to the western side of the Salton Sea and using the Davis' boat shuttled everyone over to an isolated beach. The day was spent eating, skiing and talking. But soon as with all days the sun began to settle and and so it was time to turn back. To save time after the first shuttle, everyone else was stuffed into the boat and they headed back. Shortly after leaving the beach, however, the fuel ran dry and the boat drifted. That lead to a long evening of Bill and Mr. Davis swimming and towing the boat through the shallow waters of the Salton Sea. The rescue was made as the boat was almost back to the launching ramp. From that experience, Bill built two large tanks into his boat and always carried 2 spare portable tanks. He also installed a small 6 HP trolling motor on the back to act as a spare. He really didn't like trying to swim pulling boats. Bill took the family to Clear Lake on a skiing expedition with the Caprons and the McMinns. These were great times for the family. The kids fished the docks while the adults skied and explored the lake. The bass fishing urge hit Bill and several early mornings were spent chasing small mouth bass. So many trips to the Salton Sea happened that the family came to know the area well. One trip into North Shore, however, occurred after a desert downpour. The regular campground was muddy and slick. Bill got to test out his PosiTraction which was the only reason he was able to get out of the mush. On another occasion the temperature was 128 degrees. It was hot that day, but more Top and Pops for the kids and sharing a cold one with Arlis made it bearable. Marilyn was reading Perry Masons at the time and she could always be found getting a tan and enjoying the novel. In 1970 Bill decided he wanted to fish in Montana. The camper and family enjoyed Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Nevada. The Yellowstone adventures were remembered by all and the fishing in Montana resulted in some great trout eating.
The Running Years - Bill's nephew, Mike Newton drew the family into his track meets. Bill, Richard and other friends would gather at the finals in San Diego, Sacramento and Bakersfield to watch Mike beat everyone. He was a true champ that year the family celebrated. Dennis was entering High School and was offered a chance to go to Whittier to be with Mike's coach. Dennis decided to stay with the school friends he had been with since Kindergarten but he did join the Cross Country and Track teams. He was inspired by the pictures of his Dad in the year books. Titles like "birdlegs" encouraged him to follow in the tradition and he had some success setting the freshman Cross Country record for the hill course. Bill would get to the local track meets and watch his son compete. And he encouraged him to have fun at it. He allowed him to choose his own path and never pressured him to be better than he wanted. Gayle also ran track and Bill came to watch her meets as well. While Dennis was preparing to work out one Saturday, Bill said he would run with him. After about a telephone pole distance Bill realized this would not work and he was not capable of running to any extent. This motivated him to run to get himself back in shape. Because Dennis did not have the speed but ran longer distances, and with the growth of long distance races in the local communities, Bill learned to run long distance. After Dennis returned from the Army he found Bill was running 8 miles at a time in the evening and had started competing in 10Ks. Soon Bill was preparing for a half - marathon and then a full one. Bill talked about the wall he would face at 20 miles. He had short, fast legs but he would say they weren't made for the longer distances. Well that may be so, but for a 40 and 50 some, he was running around 4 hours. His best was around 3 hours and 50 minutes. During this time he also did a one day hike of the Grand Canyon. He was in and out in a few hours. He set off from Road's End at King's Canyon up the Cooper Creek Trail (5500 feet elevation) and not only did he go through Granite Pass (11000 feet plus) but went some 15 miles further down the valley beyond at 9000 feet. That day he went 36 miles carrying only his camera and his fishing pole. He didn't believe in carrying water. (Today he would have to because of pollution). Early in the 50's when Trout fishing season started in March and ended in October he would set out after work on Friday and drive to Onion Meadows, then hike the Kearsarge Pass and over to the first lake. He would be fishing at sun up and usually fish until he would limit out. He would take a nap and hike out before dark and arrive at home by early Sunday Morning. This was the peak of his fishing enthusiasm but gives one insight into the nature of his other hobbies. He would master whatever he became interested in.
Making the Best of the Disability- It is the value of pressing the limits that probably lead to his physical ailments. The doctors let him know that the pain which he was having was coming from the disks above the fusion. The rigidity of the lower two lead to the over use of the next ones. He also had had surgery on his feet and hands. So at about 56 yo he underwent the 'lamenectity' and at first it seemed to be okay but soon he realized he would not be returning to work. He retired and was never without pain from that point on. He had developed his wood working skills over the years and continued to acquire more equipment. While working at Edison he became known as a Santa Claus for giving out his wooden toys at Christmas. His helicopters and cars were hand finished and lacquered with great patience. Once he gathered together many months of work and put them for sale at Knott's Berry Farm. They were pleased with them and wanted all he could make. He was concerned over the quality and knew he couldn't afford the time or the commercial facilities to be able to pursue this but he had achieved success in being recognized by Southern California Edison when they put him on the front cover for his toys as well as the sales at Knott's. He would continue to make his toys until he realized he was not able to work with the power equipment safely. Marilyn and Bill went on daily walks and kept active with regular meetings with friends.
Adding on - Bill decided about 1970 that the house needed to expand. He had added a Service Porch in the late 50's and had built a two car garage in the early 60's. He built his shop annex shortly after that. By the 70's he got his blue prints approved and embarked on a year long adventure of building. He determined to exceed all standards which included soldering the electrical joints at all the connector boxes, using additional fasteners and using quality studs. While removing the original patio he learned that the old tract houses had their foundations dug by a backhoe and that the cement was at least twice as thick as it needed to be. Some places the patio foundation was 12 inches by 18 inches thick. The inspector noticed that much of old house was overbuilt and so the whole house should be good for a long time.
Gardening - After Dennis joined the Army, Bill decided to start planting the backyard. He purchased a rototiller and went to town improving the soil. He would bring trailer loads of horse manure and till it in. Soon he was producing Tomatoes, Zuccuni, Butternut Squash, Corn, and more. He was also planting his Mother's house as well. He installed drip watering systems with timers and got quite automated. He also raised some rabbits and some chickens although there wasn't a lot of space to keep the smeels down. Bill was able to kill a rabbit using several methods.
Cameras- Bill's first camera was an Argus C-3 which he used without a light meter and following the Kodak instructions. He got many excellent pictures doing this. In the 60s with the new automatic cameras coming out he began to try to lose the Argus, but was never successful. Once he kind of knew where he'd 'lost' it, but someone in our group had noticed and handed it over saying, oh we know you don't want to lose these pictures. He went through a series of Canon, and Minolta 35mm and by the 90s was taking video.
The Golden Travels and Tours - The tours and trips which Marilyn and Bill made were numerous. They purchased their second Lazy Daze and were allowed to resurrect their member number of 140. The camping club had evolved from a family oriented weekend trip group to a retiree let's go during the week when no one is around type of group. They made many new friends with the Lazy Dazers. Several trips were actually tours to Europe and the East Coast. On one occasion while Dennis was assigned to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, they were to meet their cruise ship at dock 46 just a couple of docks down from the Intrepid Museum. Dennis had spent many weekends learning Manhattan and so gave the tour group an escorted tour of Mid-Town. He spent the night with them at their Park Ave. hotel. On another trip their Holland America cruise of the Baltic was arriving at Warnemunder, Germany. Dennis was assigned to Heidelberg so Bill and Marilyn paid for him to join the tour at the harbor for the day and he was allowed to dine and meet their group. He lead them on a tour of Rostok, one of the important port cites of Germany.
Decline- Sometime during the middle part of the first decade of this 21st century, family and friends began to notice that he was repeating stories and beginning to lose some concentration. At his 80th birthday he chose not to renew his driver's license. For several years before that, driving with him was an adventure as he would not see red lights or recognize them. He was never one to speed, in fact, in his early days he never exceeded the speed limit. Later he relaxed that some but never in excess.
Favorite Places to Eat - Mexican - the family would eat out occasionally in the early days and the most likely place they would go was 'Cinco de Mayo' in Wilmington. He would eat a combo plate and the kids would get 'Rabbit.' It was good and had a good reputation. Years later the resturant was busted by health officials for serving 'cat' as 'Rabbit.' What you don't know won't hurt you. Subs - from the shop next to Esko. Hamburgers - from Arlis' brothers shop; Burger King when they first opened; Norms; the grill. Steaks - Any place Clearman's - Sizzler - grilled at home. Saturday - Taco's and RC with Sea Hunt and Mike Nelson. Mildred's neighbor's mexican recipes.
A few interesting facts- Microwave Oven in 1961 - Color TV in 65