unknown — Burbank, California
Carl Jerry Bremmer was born 3 December 1881 in Osceola County, Iowa he was the second son of Henry Bremmer and Martha Rhoda Greene. The name Carl came from (?), Jerry was the name of one of mother Martha’s brother.Carl was a handsome little boy, brown eyes, brown hair and that precious charisma that is real gift. School was easy for him he excelled in mathematics and history. He was always full of devilment and pranks. Spoiled by parents and the Bremmer grandparents, he could get bewitch almost anything, be forgiven and escape punishment.Life on the family farm was not hard for the four Bremmer children. There were plenty of hired hands to do all the work and chores. The father dealt in buying and selling of cattle and horses. Money was plentiful.
During his college days at Ellsworth he majored in having a good time and minored in pranks, instead of studies. He was expelled as a result of sending “dirty” Valentines to hip professors, the culmination of several years of such tactics. By todays standards he would have been considered a playboy. During this time, he developed a great taste for alcohol.
Carl went to the Des Moines Recruiting Station to enlisted for service in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. When his mother discovered where he was, she immediately went to the army base with proof of his age. Underage (he had lied to the recruiter) he was dismissed from the service and his mother literally marched Carl back to Iowa Fall home and college.
He courted Lucy Methesmith Sharpe who was sure she could reform him after marriage (famous last words). Lucy came from a deeply religious background that did not allow cards, tobacco or liquor in the home.
After their marriage and the birth of their first child, LeRoy, the parents of Carl thought the solution to his problems was for his family to move to one of the family farm of their land holdings. But Carl had early on decided he was not a farmer and world not farm the land. He spent his day in town with buddies drinking and playing cards, leaving Lucy to run the home place.
Several year of this and Carl’s parents decided that “enough was enough” Carl moved his family into Iowa Falls and he went to work for the railroad. This was a job that really was to his liking. After a short tour of duty in Des Moines, he was transferred to the Minneapolis, St Louis Railroad in Ft Dodge.
Carl was a good husband, a good father and provider until a drinking about would interfere with a normal home life. Then he lost all sense of responsibility for the family. He was never cruel, just a “good Joe” when drinking but he would cause great embarrassment and we suffered financial losses many times.
One example of this: Carl who was a railroad engineer, had a train wreck near Tara. It was ruled that he was at fault, he had been drinking. His fine was z six months lay off, without pay and Union rules did not allow him to work for pay elsewhere during this period. With six children (Quentin had died) to be taken care of, the saving began slipping away. Carl had a ferret, trained to search out wild rabbits. Each morning Carl would take his gun and the ferret and like the pioneer of old, go to secure food for the family. But a steady diet of rabbit, three times a day for those many months left a lasting impression on all the children. Lucy would prepare the rabbits in various ways to tempt our appetites and to vary the menu, but never again would any of the Bremmer kid eat rabbit. The same was true of raisin's and oatmeal, we had eaten a lifetime of these foods in those long six months. Lucy did dressmaking to augment the income and Carl never drank a drop of liquor.
Carl enjoyed the theatre and night clubs. The railroad sponsored stage plays periodically for the employees and the whole family would attend. He was a real stickler for proper dress and I can well remember a clash with him over clothing when I was very young. Mother had just bought me a new khaki outfit preparing to attend the theater but when father saw me, he told me to change into a dress. I stormed, cried, argued but he was firm “ we dress properly for any occasion or else we did not go”. I changed to a dress.
Carl would often ask the family to a Cabaret with a black Harlem jazz orchestra. The entertainment and dancing was great, this must have been during Prohibition as we children always went along.
Carl insisted that we children be well mannered, saying people always admired the marks of good breeding. It was not necessary to be wealthy to have these attributes. At home we might quarrel and have childish arguments, but in public we were always united. We were raised with the thought that “we only break bread with friends”.
Carl wanted his home to alway be in order, clean, attractive and a place of calm security. This was in direct contrast to his drinking bouts, when he was a “jolly good fellow” willing to give anybody the shirt off his back, which at times he literally would. His love of poker was another problem, he was excellent player, playing for high stakes, with great winnings at times (once he won a diamond valued at $1700) again he had hug losses.This continual embarrassment and financial insecurity in the family led to mother’s divorcing from him.
It was right for Lucy to divorce Carl. In fairness to the family, it was the only way she could hold her children together.
After the divorce Carl transferred to the Union Pacific railroad in Cheyenne Wyoming. He was a handsome man, six food tall, well built about 10 pounds, brown eyes and brown hair. He was a healthy man, some allergies were he only problem. There were foods he could not tolerate, his skin was sensitive. Palmolive soap was the only personal soap allowed in the home. Lucy would always give his underclothing a extra rinse on wash days.
Carl was a great reader, he would read every word in any publication. The radio news “on the hour” was a must. He had a good head for figures. He believed in unionism and was a strong supporter of the brotherhood of railroad trainmen. Carl loved good food and was a good cook. He surely could have made it in life as a professional chef.
During the depression days, he was laid, off by the Union Pacific, others had seniority over him. After working at odds ends jobs (including WPA) Carl went to work for the Federal Government at the Detention Center at Nogales, Arizona. He worked as a cook.
In 1936 when Carl heard from Lucy that Winnifred had serious surgery and would be confined to bed for some weeks, he immediately quit his job in Nogales and came to Sioux City. (as we look back, we don’t see how we could have survived with him, he took over the management of the home and provided excellent care of the children and me). In 1937 when the Jones’s left for California to make a new home, Carl came along.
He went to work for a mining camp in the High Sierra’s, owned and operated by Noah Berry, Sr. Again Carl was a cook. Later he worked for the ___________ Boys Ranch School near Perris. He really enjoyed the activities and companship of these teen age boys who came from wealthy families. This school combined a strict 3R education plus featuring outdoors sports, such as horse back riding. During the year in the Sierra's and at the ranch school, Carl gave up drinking.
He retired and came to Los Angeles to e close to the family. Applying for his social security, he was turned down. The requirement at the time was forty quarters of employment, his records listed only thirty nine quarters. Checking the social security records it was found that Noah Berry Sr. had not turned in the social security withdrawals funds deducted from Carl’s paycheck while he was working at the mining operation. This was a great blow to him, as he had so carefully planned for his retirement. By now he was too old to secure employment. After his death, we applied for the social security death benefit to help pay burial expenses, we were refused any payment due to the missing one quarter. In those days there was a no penalty for employers who did not pay deductions into the social security funds, today there is.
In 1947 he became ill, this necessitated a long surgery at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Belt informed the family that Carl had one year to one and a half years to live. He came to the Jones’s home to recuperate but soon insisted on returning to his apartment.
Alcoholism is a terrible disease, not only does it slowly destroy the body but always destroying the great potential that one has. Carl’s alcohol problem caused him to be trustworthy in his commitments when drunk. Without the alcohol he could have go as far as he wanted to, he had knowledge and ability. I do not believe that my father was a true alcoholic, he would go for years, under the right circumstances, and not have a drink. So he was able to control it. But he enjoyed drinking and just didn’t know how or when to stop, once started.
Carl had an excellent mind even to his last day, he clear solving of problems was remarkable. One year, five days after his surgery, he was gone.
His death certificate date 6 October 1948 states cause of death:
Acute pyelonephritis, advancing carcinoma of prostate metastasis, subacute cirrhosis.
He is buried beside Lucy at Forest Lawn Glendale.
By Winnifred Rhoda Jones (Bremmer)