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Bertha & Early Married Life


I got acquainted with two students in the Wichita art class, one Sylvia Leslie and her roommate Bertha Bergman. Went with Sylvia for awhile but she got interested in Milton Miller. Bertha did not go to class until several weeks after I started to go out with Sylvia but when she did I thought she was a beautiful girl. One night she sidled up to me to admire my drawing and one good look at her and I decided she was it. Had a date with her one night along with Sylvia and Milton and I gave her a line about how I was about ready to settle down and get me a wife and while I did not come out and say it in so many words, I intimated that she was the girl for me. She came into the room where Sylvia was and exclaimed (and this was after our first real date) "Why that crazy guy has practically asked me to marry him."

After arriving in Wichita I got a furnished room in a home in the tenth block of N. Topeka with people by the name of Wyrick. It was not for a couple of months that I decided to buy a car and I must tell you about that. I went over on the West side and found a used car lot and I picked out a 1923 Ford coupe and had to have a lesson on  how to drive it. It cost $300 and my first few months pay at the Western was $30 per week but I don't think it took me long to pay for it for my room only cost me $3 per week and so I must have saved at least $10 per week- my lean years in Chicago had taught me how to live on a little.

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Bertha Bergman


Clarence and his 1923 Ford.

Anyhow, the Ford gave me transportation and it gave me a better chance to court the girls. Bertha worked at The Beacon and I usually picked her up after work. Our courtship pretty well centered about my "flapper-wagon" for in this I could take her places and when I took her to her rooming place at night we sat and talked a lot and did a little necking.

Bertha's folks lived on a farm near Harper, some 60 miles away. We made many trips down there but I approached each trip with trepidation. In those days the only all-weather roads from Wichita were north to Newton and south to Wellington, plus the "Cannon Ball" east and west. Roads were not marked except a few with "H" on poles and they were called "Hockaday Highways" for a tire dealer here named Woody Hockaday. He supplied a sort of road map for the asking tied to his advertising signs. In going to Harper we would go south to Wellington on a good road some thirty miles and then take dirt roads west to Harper. When it rained this road became muddy and in places well nigh impossible and that's why these trips worried me.

I remember Easter 1924 we decided to go to Lindsborg to hear The Messiah along with Milton and Sylvia. During the performance it started to rain and we began to worry about getting back home so we left early. We had reason to worry for we had to fight mud all the way back to Newton and only arrived in Wichita in time to go to work. What a night! My Ford, with its big wheels and small tires 4 5/8" X 42", made it possible for us to pass by the bigger and more expensive cars many of which were hopelessly stuck in the mud. Bertha and I kidded each other about spending our first night together but we did not let the rest of the world know about it.

Shortly before we married I rented a nice little house at 411 Ave. C just off North Waco. I sure wanted the place to be good and clean so I got down on my hands and knees and with soap and water and scrubbed the floor just like I did the kitchen floor at home on Saturday nights when I was a kid. Mrs. Souders, the landlady, found out about it and was fit to be tied for she had just waxed the floors, something I had never heard of when I was a kid. It was a nice place, though, and we had good neighbors - on one side Bert and Mrs. Souders and on the other side the Alticks. Through the Alticks we joined the bridge club of which 45 years later, I am still a member.

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A painting he did of Bertha.

After going together for about a year we were married by Rev. Harrison Ray Anderson Easter Sunday, April 4, 1926 in front of the First Presbyterian Church alter with only Louis and Alda Grieb and Rupert Flower my brother-in-law in attendance. I was too excited to pay the preacher and after we had started away I thought of it and returned and handed him $10.

Bertha worked at The Beacon most of the first year and we acquired furniture gradually. The house had a sleeping porch and a full basement with a coal-burning furnace, the rent $35 per month (I was making $45 per week then). One time after Bertha became pregnant she started down the basement steps and slipped all the way down poking her foot in a five gallon bottle of drinking water and breaking it. She had big black and blue spots on  her fanny for a long time and we worried about what it might have done to the coming baby.

clarence - bertha on wedding day 4-4 26

This is an actual wedding day picture...with

a good sense of humor.

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We decided to buy a house shortly before Bob was born at 1353 Perry Ave. and we lived there for five years. We fixed this house and yard up very nicely. Bought 10 1/2 feet more on the north to make the yard larger, fenced it, put in nice lawn and shrubs and trees and had a real nice vegetable garden in the rear.

(Right: 1353 Perry, front and back.)

We took rides over around Augusta and picked up stones with which we built a nice wall and gate between the house and garage which is still there and the house still looks nice but not as nice as when we had it. At the time we lived there it was on the edge of town - nothing but farms and sand hills across the old 13th Street bridge. We used to hike up the Arkansas River which was right behind us. Also behind us was the old Arkansas Valley Electric R.R., an interurban which ran between Wichita and Hutchinson, the depot in the Broadview Hotel - long since abandoned. The house cost us $4,250.

In the summer of 1927 we bought a new Ford Coupe and we decided to take a trip to Wisconsin - this was really a delayed honeymoon. Our first night in Columbia, Mo. then the second in Jacksonville, Ill. to see the Capps who were living there at the time. The third night in Chillicothe, Ill. then on to Chicago, then to Eau Claire some 300 miles further. 250 miles was a good days drive in those days only about 2/3 of the roads were all-weather. We made  a trip to Eau Claire at least once a year. In 1929 we bought a 1928 Graham Paige which we thought was quite a car but it used to heat up on hot days if we went over 40 miles per hour.


Bertha posing with the 1927 Ford

and the 1928 Graham Paige.

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