Laura Jeffery Yorg

Rio Vista High School

Laura started at Riverview School and in second grade moved to the new Bruning School, which now is the admin building. Rio Vista High School looked different from the way it looks now. Some kids ate lunch on the front steps and when Laura went home to lunch the kids on the steps made smart comments as everyone passed. In 5th grade Mr. Harry Alley taught math giving his students a good foundation in math. On Thursday afternoons everyone gathered in the auditorium for singing and a teacher played the piano. This activity brought all the kids together and calmed the group. Sometimes the boys chose romantic songs. Laura’s best friend was Betty Serpa and they remained close until Betty died. Laura graduated in 1939.

Laura played teen girls baseball and she was a good left-handed first base. The team was from Rio Vista, Isleton, Walnut Grove and Courtland. Their uniforms were sponsored by businesses. Laura’s uniform was sponsored by Mr. Hemminger of Walnut Grove, and was nice, royal blue and yellow. She has great memories of the baseball games between the Jeffery kids and the Brown kids when she was 17-18 years old. The two families were competitive! She reckons the Jefferys won the most games until her older sisters got married and did not play any more. In the spring time kids made fruit box scooters with skate wheels. They made a lot of racket around town. The Schmidt brothers motorized theirs. In the summertime a favorite game was Kick the Can. At playtime big kids took care of little kids. Doctor Thompson definitely came to the house. She and her brother got skinny when they had whooping cough.

Part of the time Laura’s family lived on the Smith ranch in Walnut Grove where Dad was the ranch foreman. There were 1,000 people in Rio Vista, Laura estimates. There were two movie theaters and the movies changed often. People 15 and older paid .15 cents. Laura misses all the shops and activities the town had back then and never having to lock her door. There was a daily bus to Sacramento called Gibson Lines. The Delta King and Delta Queen paddle stern-wheelers docked at Rio Vista to pick up passengers and cargo for San Francisco, a river trip of 80 miles. When she was twelve she could get on a boat at midnight and her married sister would pick her up at the San Francisco dock at 8:00 a.m. The trip cost $3.00 with no cabin and you had to stay awake on deck. Laura would watch the parties on board until 3:00a.m. with the women in their beautiful cocktail dresses.

Her father and mother moved the family from Canada when she was 14 months old. Her father had been growing hard wheat (durum) in Saskatchewan. His friends said there was work in the Stockton area. In Rio Vista her father worked putting in streets. Citizenship was called “taking out papers.” Laura Jeffery YorkYou did it in several stages and it took a long time. The children under 18 automatically became U.S. citizens with their parents. Laura had five sisters and six brothers. The teachers said “There’s always a Jeffery at this school.” It was a happy childhood. Laura had a “lovey” mother and when you cuddled her she smelled like baking.

With chores they grew into their jobs. Laura started with ironing handkerchiefs and in time learned to iron puff sleeves. She still likes ironing because it makes the clothes look nice. They had a radio and liked to listen to President Roosevelt. The whole family gathered in the living room for Amos and Andy, Myrt and Marge, and Fibber McGee.

Sunday dinners consisted of chicken occasionally but mostly corned beef and cabbage. Her mother made soups and chili beans with all the breads. Thursday was baking day so the child doing the dishes Wednesday evening was always reminded to save the potato water. It was used in making cinnamon rolls, which were tasty even though the butter was fake. Three of her brothers served in World War II. Two met each other in Africa while on separate assignments. Laura was on a team with Helen McCormack in an organization called The Gray Ladies. They went to Travis to serve refreshments to the Airmen. Nervous young Airmen going overseas for the first time gave them a hug and a sister kiss.