My Father

He was born Jan. 7, 1909. He died on April 27, 1998 of respiratory failure due to a cerbravascular accident, and had asbestos related lung disease. Today he would have been 114 years old.

My father had no official birth certificate. On June 15, 1942 he self applied for a delayed registration birth certificate, signed by his mother and filed with the District Court, Cass County, ND.

The certificate states that Edwin Robert Diesler was born in Bingham Township, Barnes County, ND. on January 7, 1909. She states she does not remember the doctor or his address. The reason for the delayed request is that Edwin wish to work for a construction company in South Dakota.

Edwin started first grade at Wilson house in Fingal, ND. Second grade in Jamestown, ND. 4th grade in Fargo, 10 years old. His father was not stable and often drank too much. One time he chased Ed around the house until Ed jumped in the flour barrel to hide. Frederick and Amelia divorced that summer. Amelia lived with Mr. Busch in 1920. Edwin was 12 years old and said “Busch or me”, in the house on First Street. Amelia said “Busch”. Edwin left for his sister Girlie’s house in Fargo.

Edwin traveled with his father Frederick that summer, making rope for various farms, came back and moved in with Lyle & Girlie Davis on Seventh and First Street (upstairs). Then after Busch and Amelia moved to Northside, the Davis’s and Ed moved into the First Street house. Stayed there till Ed moved to Indiana in 1926.

Ola, Esther and Bill Bannock (Esther’s husband) were in South Bend, Indiana. Edwin went to Detroit (Jack Ostrom, had friends there) with Ben and Ethel, but couldn’t find work, so Ben and Ed continued to Indiana. The move to Indiana was the result of a lack of money, Ed had a hard time making it for junior year (16 years old). Esther, Ola, and Ed spent the winter of 1926 in Indiana. Edwin went back to Fargo early 1927, as his father Frederick had died. Ed & Girlie, made the service despite the winter storms

Edwin moved back with Lyle & Girlie Davis to finish spring term of senior year in 1927. He worked at the Park board then finished senior year at the Fall term 1927, graduating at 19 in January, 1928. He worked in the Park service after graduating.

Edwin met Billie Elgin that summer in 1928, on the bridge between Fargo and Moorhead (Front Street). He married Billie in June, 1929. Census of 1930 only records Edwin as lodger at the Davis’. Where was Billie? His son Bob was born in 1931. Ed worked at Park board for three years.

West Fargo Packing house offered a pitching job (baseball) and he made more money than his regular truck driving park service job. Ed was offered a full time job (that way he could pitch for them for free). 100 hours of work for $24. .25¢ an hour for the first thirty days. Ed quit.

The supervisor found him walking home, and convinced him to come back. Offered .35¢. No! .45¢. Yes! The baseball team was semi-pro, Ed played against Satchel Page for three games in pitcher duels, he actually won one game.

1932-39. He was on the Ice gang, killing floor, loading floor, loading 30,000 lbs. , scaler, the security job came with new manager. Replaced Earl (Groucho) Marx, West Fargo Armour Chief of Police, Ed was effectively the police for civilians in West Fargo. He rose to Chief of police. His daughter Gayle was born in 1936.

He performed as watchman to making rounds, looking for fire and stealing out of the pens, and general supplies. Left Armour after two years.

Edwin tended bar, substituted for Fargo police June Sept 1940. That winter/summer he sold Lennox furnices. Winter of 1940 tried out being a plumber’s helper. Spring/summer of 1941 he worked at Black Hills Ordinance as part of pre-war work, in the fall he worked in Wyoming, near Scotts Bluff.

Winter of 1941-42 did nothing. In December the war started. Obviously, things were getting bad. Spring 1942 Kaiser advertised for ship builders, and Ed went to California. He went to Minneapolis, and saw his brother Bill on the way to sign up. The train left there to go to California.

Ed asked to be a assist shipfitter, C 4’s, in Basin 5 in Richmond, Ca. Kaiser Shipyards 1942-1945. For the first two years he was alone on the west coast, sending money back to Fargo. In 1943 his second son Edwin was born in Fargo.

While he was still building ships, his daughter Gayle came down with a sore throat. Very quickly it became serious because it was actually Scarlet Fever, but he could come home, Gayle died three days before her 8th birthday.

After the war ended, he spent three months picking tomatoes and grapes. Standard Oil was hiring in 1946, he joined the labor gang, within a month he got into the boilershop. Ed & Billie had their third son in 1949. Ed retired in 1970.

Ed loved car camping, he spent every weekend in the summer, driving old logging roads to find the perfect campsite. He also spent some time in camping resorts, like Snug Harbor, but he preferred the wild spots.

He was not generally a hunter, but he loved fishing. And if we weren’t camping them we were somewhere on the Bay shore, fishing for strippers.

For several years he sailed a small Norwegian dinghy in the Bay, or lakes when camping. Ed also loved bowling and in some years he even bowled in three different leagues.

One winter he purchased an unfinished bow, he started shaving it down, and he got into archery in a big way.

When relaxing, he enjoyed reading western novels, or crime dramas. In between he would play solitaire. He liked one deck of cards so well that he kept playing with long after the ink had worn off. He could only faintly see what they had once been.

The couple moved to Tacoma, Wash. In retirement Ed and Billie enjoying eating out, and going to “the woods.” The woods was ten acres of land just north of Mt. St. Helens. They had a one room cabin, with the kitchen outside under a tree. Both of them were there when the mountain blew up, and they spent several hours getting out, under lots of ash, with zero visability.

In 1995 he sent this to his high school newspaper: PROBING THE PAST, By Edwin Diestler, class of ’28, Tacoma, Washington

(From Spring 1995 Cynosure)

The last four issues of the Cynosure have had no input from the class of 1928, and sad to say the only place I’ve seen their names is in the obits. Have the others gone?

I still probe my past and here are some of my reflections:

Favorite teachers: 1. Mary Fowler – very dedicated! 2. Norma Gooden – supervisor of our class play, “Pals First.” 3. Grant Sifritt gave me a 99 in Trigonometry, and when asked why it wasn’t a hundred, he replied, “No one’s perfect!” 4. Ina Johnson – very strict, very warm and a wonderful teacher.

Sports memories: 1. Jimmie O’Connor jumping over high hurdles set up in the hallway getting his legs in shape to jump center. 2. Bud Bristol – speedy forward of the Midgets basketball team coached by Mr. Kimball – the team that lost the National Championship to Fitchburg, Massachusetts. 3. Breaking my ankle in football practice and having movie star to be, Virginia Bruce, carrying my books to my morning classes as I hobbled along on crutches.

THE “LEFT-OUT” END

By Edwin Diestler, ’28, Tacoma, Washington

When I played on the football team, we practiced in the old Fargo College stadium (below what is now Western States Life Insurance Company office building). I played left end and was the lightest man on the line which included the Folendorf twins, Walter Shamp, and Claude Miller.

We scrimmaged against Concordia and Moorhead State Teachers college in 60 minute games and beat them both by two touchdowns.

Bob Lowe was the coach, and he was really enthused about our chances for a winning season. And as it came to pass, he was right. The Midgets were undefeated that year-but without me! It happened at practice early in the season. I jumped up to catch a pass, and when I came down, I shattered my ankle.

For two and half months I hobbled around on crutches-a very disappointed “left-out” end.

The bright spot in the crutch-walking days was a pretty young girl named Virginia Briggs. Every morning Virginia carried my books to morning classes for me. Not every guy in Central High could tell his friends later in life that a real live movie star toted his books every day.

For you youngsters, Virginia Briggs was later a big Hollywood star named Virginia Bruce.

Later in life, when his wife was Ill with cancer, Billie was hospitalized, Ed went every day to sit with her, sometimes just sitting in the chair dozing. Nursing staff called him “Old Faithful.” He was quite proud of that.

Ed moved into a care facility near People’s Church, Tacoma. Two years after the death of Billie, Ed collapsed at the table in the dining area.

Recovering briefly at the hospital, he died peacefully in the presence of his granddaughter, Sheila.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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1 Response to My Father

  1. Very good biography of an interesting and complex man!

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