Grave obsessions

Who was Harold T. Uphouse?
Harold T. Uphouse. The “T.” stood for his middle name, Theodore, but some people simply called him “Tee.” (He was an avid golfer.) His second wife, Sible, called him Hal. Regardless of what name he went by, he was my mother’s father.

Unfortunately, Harold had a strained relationship with my mother.   Mom was no longer in touch with her father by the time I was born.  However, I had the opportunity to meet Harold and his second wife, Sible, once – and never told my mother!   Consequently, much of what I share here is information provided by grandmother, Goldie (his first wife), and from documents and photographs that have thankfully made their way to me from my aunt Suzi.

Harold entered this world on 20 September 1919 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He would be the only child born to his parents, Charles Madison and Julia Christine (Veland) Uphouse.   It appears that he spent his earliest years – those from 1921 to 1928 - living with friends and other family members.  It makes one wonder why he lived separate from his parents?   Of note, while Harold’s parents never divorced, they only appear on one census together – 1920.  In addition, Minneapolis city directories also show that Charles and Julia lived apart throughout the 1920s and were only listed together in the same household in 1933 and 1935.   In later years, Julia moved to California while Charles lived in Idaho.  It doesn’t appear Harold ever had a typical family life.

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Notes detailing where Harold lived beginning with birth in 1919. 

The handwriting may be that of his mother, Julia.

Moving around from home to home, family to family, would be difficult for a young child.  If these hunches are true, perhaps it explains some of Harold’s distance when he was grown and had children of his own.  Thankfully, Harold stayed connected to his maternal family, and according to the timeline above penned by his own hand, he lived with his grandmother from 1923 to 1926.  I’m so glad he had that experience and had other extended family members around on the farm!

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Harold, age 4 1/2, on the shoulders of his Uncle Harry

at Starks Farm, 1924, in Exeland, Wisconsin.  (Photo courtesy of Sandra Hesse.)

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Young Harold in someone's boots!

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Harold's letter to his mother dated 20 February 1926, writing from Exeland, Wisc.

Living with his grandmother Elisebeth (Gravdahl) Veland, Harold would have had extensive Bible lessons.  Church played a big part in this Norwegian family!  Not only did children attend church on Sundays, but they also had devotions on Sunday afternoons. 

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When moving back to Minnesota, Harold also would have attended catechism in preparation for his rite of confirmation which occurred 20 May 1934 at the Minnehaha Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

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Taken in Minneapolis, this photo was probably captured near the time Harold was confirmed in the Lutheran church in 1934.

early adulthood

Apparently young Harold was not keen on education in his earlier years, or he had to get a job to help support the family.  Regardless, according to the 1940 census, Harold only completed the first year of high school.  While we don't know what he was doing for work, we do have an idea of where he was living as he ended his teenage years.
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Harold and friend, Clerice Romaine, who later became Mrs. Robert George. 

The back of the photo tells us it was taken July 1937 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Sometime after the photo above was taken in Minneapolis on July 1937, Harold made his way to San Diego, California.

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The history of Harold's residences continues with 1934 - 1954 shown above.  Note the change in penmanship beginning in 1940.

It was here that he met Lila La Chusa, whom we find on the 1939 Indian Census Rolls as the wife of Harold T. Uphouse. 

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It is unknown if they ever legally married (California has no record of it), but the pair had two children in the brief time they were together:  D’Lorah Christine and Raymond Charles.   

By the time Raymond Uphouse was born in July 1939, Harold had apparently separated from Lila and had made his way back to the Midwest.  It appears he had no contact with Lila and their children; after Harold's death in 1992, his second wife received a call from D’Lorah who wanted information regarding her father and his life.

Harold, in his journal of addresses, notes his return to Minneapolis in 1939, and it was here that he met my grandmother, Goldie Simpson.  Goldie was 18 years of age and Harold 20 when they were married in Minneapolis by Wallace B. Olson, a Baptist Minister, on 24 March 1940.  (Goldie had no knowledge of Harold's earlier family, and wouldn't discover their existence until many years later when reading of Raymond's death in the local newspaper.)

The newlyweds shared an apartment with Goldie’s mother, Susan (Stanwood) Simpson, and were listed together on the 1940 census in Minneapolis.  Susan, a recent widow, worked hard to help support the family, and she helped fund Harold’s efforts to continue his education and obtain his high school diploma. 

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse

Mr. & Mrs. Harold Uphouse.  Faintly visible is Goldie's wedding band on her left ring finger.

By the following year, Harold and Goldie had moved to Los Angeles, California.  Sitting in bed one night  Harold made a very tender and sweet entry into Goldie’s autograph book:

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On 17 October 1942 Patricia Marie-Jon Uphouse was born, and thus they became a family of three.

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with daughter Patti

Harold and Goldie with daughter Patti, Summer 1943.

Times must have been hard for the young couple.  In July 1943 Goldie's mother, Susan, wrote:

I sure will be glad to see my kids again and little Pumpkin [Patti]. I was in hopes to be there the 17th and spank her little butt. She is 10 mo old now...We are getting pretty well settled and Bea's house looks very nice but she spent the money on it. After I get to work my kids [Harold and Goldie] will have some nice things in their house.

Harold was noted to be a 5' 9", 141 lb. template maker when he was drafted into the army in 1944.  At that time Goldie and Patti returned to Minneapolis to be near Susan and the rest of Goldie's family. Before Harold left, they took pictures at the home of Harold's grandmother, Elisebeth Veland.

L to R: Amanda (Veland) Cordes, Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse

Harold with his aunt, Amanda (Veland) Cordes, left, and wife Goldie, right.

Harold was first sent to Junction City, Kansas, where he trained in radio repair school. 

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Harold T. Uphouse, front row, far left.

After his electronics training the young soldier was sent overseas where he spent time in the Philippines and Japan.  On 27 November 1945 wrote home to Goldie from Tateyama, Honshu, Japan :

Dearest Scram,

Today we have rain.  So we are indoors.  I was supposed to get a bunch of [Japanese workers] & make them work but it rained so it was called off.

I got stinkin from drinkin last nite.  I managed to get almost a full case of beer, twenty one bottles in all.  Grain belt mind ya.  It sure did me good...

He writes about packages he received that day from Goldie as well as from his Uncle Norm and wife, Edith.  They sent him candy and some rolls of film that he thought would come in handy.  After talking more about the weather, he ended by saying he turned up the heat and was going to go try and get warm.  The following day he finished: 

28 Nov 1945
Well I got lite again yesterday afternoon.  Miller, Spencer & Myself went into Tateyama & proceeded to get stinkin.  I have in my left hand a 12 oz bottle of Millers High Lite Beer.  My talk box is still raspy from the nite before last...
...I picked those pictures up I had taken in town so I'll send a couple to you...I'm going to have some others taken pretty soon & will send some more...
Your loving husband,
Harold
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Harold while in the army during World War II

Of course Harold did more than drink beer while with his unit, the 148th Field Artillery Battalion.   For his service he received the following:

  • Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon with one Bronze Star
  • Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star
  • Victory Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • Army of Occupation Medal Japan

Harold was discharged with the occupation of "electrician" after serving in the army for two years.  

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with daughter Patti

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with daughter Patti, probably 1946 near Harold's discharge

After spending time in Minneapolis when returning home from the army, Harold, Goldie and Patti went back to California.  Harold also resumed night school, and  received his high school diploma Los Angeles on 20 June 1947.

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While he'd been studying, Harold was also busy working to support his family and took a job at North American Aviation where he would continue for the remainder of his career.  His pay stub for 1947 paints a picture of an average, middle-class family, earning $52.00 per week. 

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Harold, Goldie and Patti, about 1947

The year 1947 was quite important for the Uphouses.  Not only did Harold get his diploma, the family welcomed another daughter - Suzi.

Harold Uphouse with daughters Suzanne and Patricia (Suzi and Patti)

Harold and daughters Suzi and Patti

By all accounts the next seven or eight years were unremarkable; Harold continued as the family’s breadwinner.  He was successful at work and Harold & Goldie bought a new house on Judy Lane, a quiet culdesac in Garden Grove, California.  From the windows in their home they could view Orange County’s premier attraction, Disneyland.  Goldie would visit the next-door neighbors, where Patti and Suzi would enjoy the pool in the warm California summer sun.  They went camping, took trips to the zoo, and probably seemed quite happy.

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with daughters Patricia and Suzanne

Harold, Goldie, Patti and Suzi, about 1952 or 1953.

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with children Suzi and Patti and Harold’s mother Julia (Veland) Uphouse

Harold and Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse with daughters Suzi and Patti.  Harold's mother, Julia (Veland) Uphouse on far right.  Photo about 1954.

Until one day they weren’t.  Suzi recalls coming into the house and finding her mother crying, having just been told by Harold that he wanted a divorce.  Their aunt, Beatrice (Clark) Anhorn, came and picked up Patti and Suzi, and later the girls and their mother Goldie would move in with “Auntie Bea” in Arlington, California. Goldie went to secretarial school, got a job as a receptionist, and moved with her daughters into a quadriplex home. 

While Goldie was rebuilding her life and making a home for her daughters, Harold was able to pursue his new love interest: Sible Carter.  Sible was a supervisor at North American Aviation and he’d been close to her prior to separating from his wife.   A couple of years later Goldie was remarried to a marine, gunnery Sargent Cecil “Tops” Edwards, who was adored by Patti and Suzi.  Harold also remarried; he and Sible together made a sizable income and purchased a home that was featured in Sunset magazine.  The article was clipped from the publication and shared with Goldie, who understandably did not appreciate seeing it.  Adding salt to the wound, Harold’s new in-laws moved in with him and Sible, and he asked Goldie if he could stop paying child support, claiming that monies were now tight. 

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Harold and Sible (Carter) Uphouse

Despite all the nonsense that accompanies divorces, Harold and Goldie still saw each other frequently.  Goldie once remarked that she saw more of Harold after the divorce than before!  He would stop by to visit and was apparently a regular around the house.  Later, however, Harold would have much less contact with his daughters.  Cecil and Goldie moved the family to Vista, a smaller city in North San Diego County, south of Downey where Harold resided.  Patti and Suzi would then take a bus to visit their father and his wife Sible.

letter 1960

My Mom (Harold’s daughter, Patti) wrote home to her mother during one of these visits and talked about seeing Huntington Beach and other California coastal towns, going to Chinatown and later camping while visiting with Hal and his wife, Sible.  From this letter it seemed like Mom had a good time and enjoyed the days spent with her father. 

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My mom, Pat Uphouse, with her father, Harold.  High school graduation, 1960. 

After my mother graduated high school, she went to nearby Palomar Junior College, just as her parents expected of her.  However, many years later she would recount to me how she found college much more difficult than anticipated.  When unsuccessful in class, she would instead go to school and spend the day sitting in her car.1 Eventually, however, this caught up to her and her parents must have figured out her ruse!  She then worked at a hot dog stand briefly, before deciding to join the army. 

Harold was happy to see her enlist, having himself served in World War II.  Sible was also a veteran of the war, and Harold’s father had been in the army as well.  Harold saw her off as Mom left for basic training, after having first given her luggage and rolls of coins to make calls home.  By all account he was a happy, supportive father, having hoped she would find something to do besides serving hotdogs! 

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Pat Uphouse, 1962, after enlisting in the Womens Army Corp.

Harold’s enthusiasm when Mom joined the army makes the next part of the story perplexing.  While Mom was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she penned many letters to her father.  It seems many, if not all, went unanswered.  In her frequent letters home to her mother, she lamented Harold’s silence.  On the 28th of June 1963, she writes: “Say – have you heard from my father?  It’s going on a year since I have.  Let’s face it he just doesn’t give a dam[n].  I guess it’s no great loss.”  Four more months drug on while Mom waited to get a card or letter from Harold, but her patience was in vain.  Her final mention of her father was on October 16th 1963, in another letter to my grandmother.  Mom unleashed her fury: 

I wrote to my dear father again but still no answer.  I’m sick of writing letter after letter without getting an answer.  He must have gotten my letters because we never get any of them back.  I’m finished and through with trying to get an answer.  He hasn’t even acknowledged my marriage [ten months prior].  Oh he’s a fine one, he is.   I don’t owe him anything, not even love.  Tops has been more of a father to me than Harold could ever hope to be.  Writing me back won’t make me change my mind because Harold knows from you that I had written him.  That’s all about him, I don’t plan on writing about him again.

And she didn’t! 

 Not only did Mom not talk about her father in letters home anymore, she also didn’t talk about him much during my childhood.  The pain from his failure to keep in touch was too much for her, and she remained quite angry at him throughout her life.  Talking about Harold was not something we did.  Consequently, I’d ask my grandmother questions about Harold and kept detailed notes of these conversations about him and his family.  More recently, I’ve queried my Aunt Suzi for any tidbits she recalls, and pieced together other information from various photos, letters, and other documents my aunt bequeathed to me. 

Odds & Ends

Harold obtained a license as a real estate agent in 1977, and obtained a sales position in the Brea, California office of Herbert Hawkins Realtors.

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Harold began working for North American Aviation in 1947, and stayed on as the company changed hands.  At the time of his retirement in 1984, the company was known as Rockwell.

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Harold loved to golf, a passion he shared with his second wife, Sible.  His retirement party was held at the Alta Vista Country Club, a place at which I presumed he frequently golfed.

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  • Harold was quite charming and loved by the ladies.  He had quite a sense of humor too!
  • One of Harold's past-times was to go onto movie sets as an extra.
  • Harold enjoyed creative writing.  One of his stories titled "The Escape" was about an engineer sent to China to install some “electronic gear” that his company had sold to the Chinese government.  It was quite interesting, but unfortunately was never completed.  He also wrote another short story called “The Pirate Heroes,” which detailed the adventures of Gerald Patrick East, Robert Owen Patterson, school-aged kids that go rafting.

Harold was close to his mother Julia’s family.  He is captured in numerous photos with her and her brothers and sisters. 

Julia (Veland) Uphouse with son Harold

Harold and his mother, Julia (Veland) Uphouse

Harold T. Uphouse, Elisabeth (Gravdahl) Veland and Norm Veland

About 1945:  Harold, left, with his grandmother Elisebeth (Gravdahl) Veland, and uncle, Norm Veland

Elmer Veland, Bob Wilson, Harold Uphouse, Harry Veland, 1936.  Provenance Sandra Hesse; separate copy received from Suzanne (Mink) Uphouse 2014.

Elmer Veland, Bob Wilson, Harold Uphouse, Harry Veland, 1936. 

Elmer and Harry were his uncles, and Bob was his cousin. 

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a photo of Harold with his father, Charlie.  I do know he was around the family periodically when Harold and Goldie were married, as my grandmother described her father-in-law as a very nice, kind man, despite a serious problem with alcohol. 

It was about 1985 that I met Harold and Sible.  They had driven from their home in Orange County, California to my hometown of Temecula to meet me and my husband.  Although I occasionally spoke to Sible after that, I never did see or hear from Harold again.  Harold died a few years later, taking his last breath at an Orange County nursing home on 4 October 1992 at the age of 73.  He was cremated and his ashes were spread at sea off the coast of Newport Beach, California.

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One can wonder how Harold was affected by his parents’ marital problems that kept them living separately for most of their lives.  Perhaps it partially explains his difficulty maintaining relationships with his children, D’Lorah and Raymond from his first relationship with Lila Lachusa, and then Patti and Suzi, my mother and aunt, with Goldie (Simpson) Uphouse, my grandmother.  Interestingly, my grandmother never spoke negatively of Harold, even though I believe the divorce was likely the most painful thing she experienced during her life.  She had been completely in love with him and totally blindsided by his affair. 

So, I end this tribute to Harold Theodore Uphouse, my grandfather, in an attempt to reserve judgement.  It’s taken considerably longer than it should have to write this brief history of his life;  despite sympathizing with my mother’s pain at his absence, I sought to be as unbiased as possible. Consequently, I frequently found myself deleting sentences and drafting paragraphs anew, ensuring the meaning and reflection of the words that remained painted an objective picture of Harold’s life.  One cannot point the finger at others who lived in a different era or generation with different life experiences and values.  I have not walked in his shoes and do not know what impacted his ability to be the father my mother needed him to be, nor the husband my grandmother wanted him to be.  However, I’m grateful he’s in my family tree – without him there wouldn’t be me!

1.  Mom did eventually graduate from college.  She first became a Licensed Vocational Nurse, and later obtained her associates degree in nursing.  She worked as a Registered Nurse until retirement about 2003.