Old Pagels Photos - Hub Page

Pictures dating from circa 1935 to 1960 collected from family records
Latest update: October 10, 2014
© 2010, Herbert E. Lindberg

These are old black-and-white pictures cherry picked from various Pagels family collections.  By the time they got to me they were in cardboard boxes with no particular order.  I scanned them, did some light photo editing, and put them into four categories:

1. Early Years:  Part 1Part 2Part 3
2. Mid Years:  Part 1Part 2Part 3
3. Veterans Return:  Part 1Part 2
4. Next Generation

Many photos are of poor quality (I didn't scan the bad quality photos) but they form a record of the family growing up and are therefore family treasures.  This is a very skimpy history of the post- Marriage family of Herrman Harry Otto Pagels ("Pop," born(?) and raised in Berlin Germany, circa 1897) and Wally Walda Neudeck ("Mom," born circa 1899 and raised in Berlin).  The pictures are in roughly chronological order but you may see people getting younger instead of older here and there.  Don't forget to scroll down on this page to see the wonderful picture of the entire family taken in 1947, shortly after the "boys" returned from serving in the armed forces during World War II.

Pop's oral story of his life in the U.S. before marrying Mom may be even more interesting to you than these photos and was recorded by his second son, Gus, in about 1980.  Cassette tapes were made for many in the family but these are getting old and difficult to play because tape players are being replaced by CD players.  Also, making more tapes for the entire family (Pop's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren) is hit or miss. I've therefore posted compressed-file digital versions here (mpg format, made by Pop's grandson-in-law Andy Heninger).  Links to these are given below, after the thumbnail links to photos and the 1947 family photo.

Finally, when Vern and Otto died in 2012, among the photos was Harry's original type-written speech which he gave at Pop's funeral. It is very touching and very accurate.  Here is a scanned copy:


Pagels Early Years

Pagels Mid Years

Veterans Return

Next Generation


Entire family, circa 1947, in Santa Barbara hills
Mary on top, Pop and Mom at left.  Boys left to right: Harry, Gus, Otto, Wally, Herb, Vern
(This photo is available in larger size (click here) suitable for a print at 300 ppi for an 8x10-inch frame.)


Pop's Oral History

Click on each tape link to go to a page that plays that tape and displays photos which help describe the material on the tape.  You can click selectively from here based on the verbal description of material on each tape.  Once you are on any tape page, links are provided to jump to any other tape page, and back to this page.

If you haven't already done so, you may be prompted to download sound-playing software (e.g., Quick Time Plug In).  If the player bar doesn't become active, right click on download the tape for each section and open it in a separate tab.  It will play there while you go back and view the text-and-photo page from which you clicked.

1.       Tape 1a  (23 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Leaves home in Berlin at 14 to work a one-year contract on a farm.  Jumps contract after three months to return home; arrested at home, spends 19 days in adult jail.

b.      From 12 to 14, works in Berlin bowling alley while going to school.

c.       Works at a furniture factory until he shoots his finger with six-shooter, walks 6 blocks to Red Cross station. Then he was fired from the factory.

d.      Goes to Aunt’s restaurant in Hamburg.

e.      At 15 (1910) goes to work about 3 weeks at sea on a two-masted schooner, which carried wheat to Denmark, coal, and so on.  Pulled sail, cooked, painted hot tar.

f.        Works on ship to America the same year, jumps ship in New York, works 12 to 14-hour days on a farm for $10/month, then at hotel in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., ($15/month) for three months, delivering beer house-to-house on order. Introduction to funny episode with American girls.

2.       Tape 1b (23 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Funny episode with girls.  Trenton N.J., hops train west, hides in sewer pipe when cops check train for bums.

b.      Trenton, PA, Chicago: hobo on southern rail route to California (Rock Island line – now the Southern Pacific), shoveled coal from coal car to boiler man. Stops to work as dishwasher, clean chickens; meals were 25 cents for full dinner, salary $20/month Stops in Liberal, Kansas from fall to next year (1911).

c.       Takes wrong track, winds up in El Paso, Texas, then on to Pancho Villa’s camp in Chihuahua, Mexico, walking along the track. They gave him frijoles and beans and escorted him in a railroad hand car pumped back to the border.

d.      Benton, AZ: chops wood for meals.  Gets kicked off trains.

e.      Tucson, AZ: dishwasher. Picked up by cops while bumming on railroad cars, works on sewer line during 5 days in prison.

f.        Goes on to Phoenix, which was a cow town – dirt streets, no wood sidewalks. Had been told he’d have a better chance of catching trains by going through Tucson and Phoenix.

3.       Tape 2a  (23 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Rides tank car by hanging onto a hand rail (very dangerous because had to fight sleep). One more train to San Bernardino, walks to Los Angeles, works as dishwasher. 

b.      Los Angeles: two butter horns and coffee for a nickel. Meets Fred Nichol, who became a movie director.  Plays convict in a movie, and as a crowd extra in others.

c.       Santa Barbara: Works at Ott’s Hardware as tinner.  Lives with Swedish family for about three years.

d.      Joins Naval Reserve at about 17. Towed targets with tender for 4-inch gunnery practice. Operated guns, too, and was a good shot. Wasn’t accepted for regular Navy because of bad eye.

e.      Goes with Swedish family to Los Angeles, later  takes boat to San Francisco.  Doesn’t like it, so heads south to Santa Cruz, hops train up to Santa Barbara.

4.       Tape 2b (22 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Takes train from San Francisco to Santa Cruz as passenger, but with no ticket. “Fella caught me and took me to the police station and admonished me not to do that.” Soon after takes train to Santa Barbara—no ticket again, but wasn’t caught.

b.      This reminds Pop of another trip from Chicago to New York in which he and a friend rode on top of a “water car” and got dumped with water. He then hops a Norwegian freighter (1914) with intent of returning to Germany but he is caught and the Captain kicks him off.

c.       Goes to business school in Santa Barbara while working at Ott’s.

d.      Delivers goods from Beaumont TX to Tampico(?) Mexico.

e.      (Pop was mixed up logically and chronologically on this tape, more than on the others.)

5.       Tape 3a  (23 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Pays his way as a passenger on a boat from New York to Charleston, then on to Key West, Florida.

b.      Stays in Key West, Florida for at least 8 months. Ship captain paid Pop to stay in his house with his wife and mother-in-law, for protection and odd jobs.

c.       1918. Leaves to work on a farm in Georgia. Experiences blacks/whites separation on a streetcar.

d.      Kingston, Tennessee, milking two or three cows for $5 a week plus board and room.

e.      Stops at several other towns, then goes back to Liberal, Kansas to see what it was like compared with his first stay in 1910. Works on a farm, slept in room next to stable.  Many changes to Liberal, from dirt streets in 1910 to paved in 1918, and a new high school, where Pop took typing, English.

f.        Gets back pay from Naval Reserve  which, with farm pay, allows Pop to go to high school.  Farm work from 5 am to 8 am, then cleaned up, changed clothes, and went to school. After school, worked in a restaurant (wash dishes, wait tables, cook). Stays in Liberal for two years.

g.       Meets some girls and goes back to Tennessee and Oklahoma. Gets malaria again.

h.      Flint, Michigan: Shipped there by the railroad to work as a laborer.  Works into becoming a carpenter helping build 700 homes in support of new auto plant. When they got into finish work Pop quits and goes to New York to ship home to Germany as a seaman in 1919. First trip home since coming to America in 1910. Learns that both older brothers, Max and Paul, were killed in the war. He had three sisters, two younger.

i.         On second trip back home Pop meets Mom. Had met Cesar Romero in class at school.

6.       Tape 3b (23 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Arrives in Germany just after WW I. Mom talks about how Pop could have married the farmer’s daughter, because as an American he was a good catch. But he had already seen Mom with her great legs and was hooked.

b.      Marries Mom in 1920 but returns to America by himself soon after.  Leaves money for Mom to live at $2/week.  Made 13 trips back and forth across the ocean as a seaman in years 1920-23, each taking about six weeks.   On this first return to Germany Pop had come across with his German birth certificate, so Mom couldn’t return immediately as his American wife. This was a mistake because he could have signed on with his American seaman’s papers.

c.       In America Pop now had a car (see Tape 4), and his itchy feet made him leave Mom for long periods as he continued his wandering ways.

d.      The railroad paid Pop’s way from New York to Sacramento to work on the railroad as a strike breaker. Eventually works six years for the railroad, starting with outside construction and working up to finish cabinet work inside the cars. His supervisor liked Pop because Pop  knew how to play cribbage with him.

e.      Mom comes from Germany with Vernon and $50 from Pop, most of which was stolen on the train from New York to Sacramento by short changing her (Mom spoke only German at the time). Arrived in New York February, 1923.

f.        Pop soon builds their own house in Sacramento.  Used heavy mahogany doors from railroad surplus. He first built a small house then added onto it (as he did several times later in the state of Washington).

g.       Mom notices Sunday funnies and learns English with Pop’s help reading them.

7.       Tape 4  (9 minutes)   [Right click to download the tape]

a.       Gus, Otto and Harry are born in Sacramento, where Mom and Pop live for six years in the house Pop built.  Herb is born during a stay back East. Wally is born after return to Sacramento. Mary was the only one born in Santa Barbara. Vern had been born in Germany.  At the then-outskirts of Sacramento, the house was in the country with unpaved roads and no sidewalks.  They had a cow and a neighbor had a goat, whose milk they shared with the Pagels.

b.       Pop buys his first car, a 1919 Buick, for $50 in 1924.

c.      Pop quits his job at the railroad in Sacramento in 1929, just before the great depression – ouch, what a bad move.

d.      Mom injures her finger by getting it squeezed by a bedspring as they were assembling the bed.  It was bone damage and didn’t hurt at first, but became much worse later with gangrene setting in. Mom went to the hospital while Pop stayed home with the boys.  Pop took one look at what the hospital had done and took Mom home.  An old sheep herder neighbor wrapped the finger with “loco weed” (marijuana?) and in three days the finger was clean.  But internal rotting had eaten much of the bone, so the finger was never fully usable.

Cities Pop visited and/or lived in that he mentions in these tapes.  These are only the tips of his adventures.

Webmaster's Addition: Prior to Gus's creating this epic oral history of Pop, all in the first generation of his family knew him mainly as a kindly father and grandfather.  He loved all his children and grandchildren dearly, and I never heard him say an unkind word. The picture below of Pop and grandchild Dave Lindberg (circa 1963) personifies my family's remembrance of him. When Dave became old enough to speak and remember our visits to Pop's final home in Seattle, he referred to Pop lovingly as "the one-eyed guy." That name sticks to this day with all the Lindberg family.


Pop was happiest with one of his children or grandchildren in his arms, here with Dave Lindberg.

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