William Evers and Peter Emblad

Recorded March 10, 2011 Archived March 10, 2011 01:21:07 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SFB001224


William D. Evers (83) by Peter Emblad (43) on W.’s family history. W. talks about his parents and grandparents’ immigration to the U.S. from Germany, and their rise in prominence in San Francisco

Subject Log / Time Code

W. on changing his political orientation--from Republican Party to Democratic party.
W. on his father’s, Dr. Pischell, side of the family, and their move to Iowa, and eventual move to California.
W. on his mother’s mother’s, Dhormann, side of the family. Gradfather came from Hammond, Germany.
W. on growing up in the Great Depression
W. anecdote on his father and having a fast car.
W. on his mother Sepha, and her leadership in every community she’s been a part of.
W. on his father’s work as an architect
W. on his relationship with his parents, and their deaths.
W. on his father’s manners
W. on relation to Spekbacher, a famous German military man.


  • William Evers
  • Peter Emblad

Recording Location

San Francisco StoryBooth

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:03 All right. My name is Peter M. Blad today's date is March 10th, 2011 on 43 years old and we're recording this in San Francisco, California and I'm here talking with my father stepfather William be ever. So I'll let her do some self.

00:24 I'm volume Dorman. That's t o h r m a n n Evers. I'm 83.

00:34 What's today's date is April 10th 2011 on in San Francisco, and I'm here with my dear stepson Peter and bod.

00:45 Adele I want to just start off a little bit. If you could tell me a little background when you were born where you were born the circumstances of what was going on back then well, I was born in San Francisco and I spent the first two years of my life here and then we moved to Ross in Marin County.

01:07 And I was there till I was 14 when we moved back to the city and I went to Lowell High School.

01:18 And then

01:21 I went in the Navy in the Second World War.

01:25 And the Navy sent me the Oregon State College for one year and I'll get into the vat more detail. Later.

01:33 I know I went to jail for 3 years and then I came back to California and went to law school and Berkeley, which is called both both Hall b o a l t.

01:49 And then I practice law and I will and will get into that more later to but while I think I should outline and underscore is the fact that I was born just before the depression. I was 2 years old in the crash or 28.

02:08 And actually the reason we moved to Ross was because the income situation the family changed quite dramatically I had it was my family had a very expensive my mother's family had an extensive property over there.

02:26 And that we moved to a house that was on the 21 Acres I had and that was because of depression and also course. I'm a product of the second World War I said, I was in the Navy but I didn't see any battle from the war was over when I was in.

02:49 San Diego and bootcamp

02:52 I'm at the thing to take away from this is the fact that it's hard for people nowadays to understand how profound the Depression was that for instance. I didn't go to any other place in the world except Nevada. We had a house of Tahoe, but I wasn't well-traveled you when I was 18 and I haven't been anywhere I under my children and their grandchildren most of them have been to Europe three or four times before they are 18 cuz it was a very different world.

03:30 And of course the post-world war

03:34 America World War II America starting 1945 we were at the country very much and it's been fascinating to watch the I would say the ascendancy to what I would say, is it Stewart hubris?

03:58 And then you go into denial and I think that's what I'm Erika is right now. Everybody still thinks they're America's number one and it really I don't think it is. I think it's in Decline. So it's been very fascinating.

04:11 Watch this.

04:13 Another overview is I would say I was very active all my life very active in civics.

04:22 And I was a republican. I was in the young Republicans at Yale.

04:29 And I was actually became vice chairman the San Francisco Republican party and then as the South took over I have become the very avid.

04:42 Almost obsessed Democrat and it's it's there's another change their country has drifted very much for the ride. And I find that quite disturbing.

04:56 Let's see. What else do you want a general background? I think well, I guess it another thing I sent underscore is that I was

05:08 I was

05:11 I was thinking of running for for office.

05:14 But my first Wives has Lena Bennington.

05:18 What's very much against my being in politics, so I switch from that.

05:26 2 then in the environmental movement and a good deal of my energy in my life has been put into environmental causes.

05:38 I know you'll find out about that as we go through more questioning. I'm sure can you tell me a little bit with the back track of it who your parents and your grandparents and then what what they've done, Okay. So this this is an ancestry part of the session and I should underscore that. It was my mother's side that act that very much dominated my ancestry knowledge.

06:11 And contacts

06:14 Big now, why was that it was her cause my father was from

06:19 His family was from Iowa.

06:22 And let's let's get into that every side will start with that. They ever were from the town of Lubec to back it, which is now in Germany. It was originally part of Denmark, but in 1866 under Bismarck the Germans took it over.

06:45 My

06:47 Great grandfather

06:50 I left Germany because in those before Bismarck the German principalities were all at War and who wanted to fight a war under our prints. So they escaped in the fact they were draft Dodgers.

07:07 And they came to it ended up in Iowa.

07:11 They were farmers and then

07:15 They started a general merchandise store.

07:19 I know that because I had a safe that became a trait typical became a bank that my grandfather Everest was really quite well-off and he was a hypochondriac and he moved to California to the town of Calistoga because in those days and even now that that was considered a very healthy place and you thought it was going to be sick. Well, of course, he wasn't sexy. I sexy love to be in his nineties, but hate they got bored and Calistoga and they moved to Berkeley at at my father went to Berkeley High School.

07:56 And then he went to UC Berkeley and that's where he met my mother.

08:01 But because his family his dad then move back to Colorado Springs because it was another healthy place at your desk. And I didn't I've only met my that grandfather. My father's father once that I remember.

08:18 And I never ate something. I remember I guess I was about 5 and you told me that not eat the strings on the banana, you know when you can feel a banana there's a store where the skies wacky, but I wasn't old enough to use that term but inside you're not been eating the Sphinx in the sand.

08:43 And I never knew my grandmother and my grandmother had died before I was born I think and my grandfather had married another woman that I never met her.

08:55 Cuz he was a he was the distance. Yes. It was a distance and I guess it was partly in but they didn't have airplanes work around so you had to go there by trying it was a it was quite an undertaking 220. I actually did go there when I was Nineteen 33. I think it was a 32 I went by train to my grandfather's Universal IR versuri. I can't remember what it was across that it was by train and I can remember being messy 32 and I was 20 I was five years old and I can remember being awake on the train at at night because of the way the motion and opinion and I was pretty pretty head a thing for a little kid. So when I said I didn't never been out of the country till I was 18, I had I had gone to Colorado Springs at the age of 5, but I hardly can say that that was something I remember.

09:51 Okay. Well now I'm Otherside.

09:54 Metro Far and Away the most dominant and that is my middle name being Dorman d o h r m a n n. That was my grandmother's my mother's mother her maiden name was with Norman and her father is the ancestor that I shoot plan looks too because he was a very successful man and he came to California in 1862.

10:28 From North Germany right near Hamburg

10:32 And he became a merchant.

10:36 And he became a extremely successful Merchant was one of the co-founders of the Emporium, which was a major department store in San Francisco till all 10 years ago or so.

10:50 And he had an Empire.

10:55 Of 17 stores that are like Gump sort of a cross between Crate & Barrel and and they're all over the West Coast.

11:05 And it actually had the largest Restaurant Supply Company in the world restaurant supply being Place silverware and that sort of thing and he was a regent of the University of California and 1903 a very prominent citizen. I really should write a book about the guy because he ate did all sorts of things like going to Europe after the first World War II help and rehabilitating the European people and he was after the earthquake he was so great active and he was on the

11:43 Here's one of the founders of the Saint Francis Hotel to Yosemite Park in Anchorage happening all sorts of things. So he's a very nice guy and his daughter.

11:55 That's my grandmother. My mother's mother. She married a a quite a remarkable man named Casper Lashley. His full name was Caspar melchior balthasar treewisemen.

12:09 He was from near Innsbruck in Austria.

12:16 And that his family sent him to a cemetery a Catholic and they read his mail and you got really cheat on so he quit and he went into Bianna and and to make a long story short. He received a education at medicine. He became an ophthalmologist.

12:36 And he was on his way.

12:39 The family a lot of the tradition is he was on his way to Australia that's not true. He was on his way to Portland money. When a German doctor in New York said hey, there's a there's a German opthalmologist to the San Francisco is retiring. So he he actually at the last minute change. I think this luggage actually went to Portland, but it came to San Francisco.

13:03 And I'm not quite sure when that was I think was about 1880 or so, but now I must have been sooner than that cuz

13:12 Now that's that's possible. That's right. I'm not going to confuse between his wife. Okay, so and he married men Norman.

13:20 So he was a fairly prominent awesome ologist. Although his his son my uncle uncle Dorman.

13:29 What is a very famous opthalmologist world-renowned? I'll get into that price later. But anyway, so I called them by the German name cross Papa and gross mama.

13:43 So my grandfather Kasper Michelle was gross for Papa and my grandmother was gross mama and we lived until I was 14.

13:55 We lived on the same property in Ross is 21 acres and they had the big house.

14:03 And we had a smaller house, but it was a property of so large. It wouldn't know that we were on the same property. We were you couldn't see the houses together. They were it was buried.

14:17 What was Ross. You remember my grandmother's father was very wealthy. I can remember when my grandmother I can even remember when she had 14 servants.

14:29 And their house in the city was on California between Franklin and golf right opposite the two victorians that are still standing there and they actually have two houses.

14:45 Cuz I think one was used by my uncle Dorman is in the Moriches wife.

14:50 It's a little footnote. Is that right after the earthquake of all things both the Bohemian Club and the Pacific Union Club use the second house as their headquarters, and I know that from a study that a friend of mine did and he actually put it out in the in the Bohemian Club Library note that fact and I have that eye of those notes.

15:18 And anyway, then came the crash.

15:22 Last night June 28th and moon my grandmother's two brothers.

15:29 Didn't believe the crash was here was real and they kept borrowing money from a company. That is a doorman commercial company.

15:40 My grandmother and her son Harold my uncle.

15:46 They knew the crash was real.

15:48 And so they

15:51 Got rid of all the help except to

15:54 And my grandmother moved to the country house. This was the Ross house was huge and a pool and a tennis court in the land. They they move there and send that cut down their expensive and that I had a big impact later because her two brothers had to give up their ownership of the country the company that my grandmother ended up being Far and Away the largest stockholder and and the company came out of the depression finally. And by the way, I remember one Christmas when my uncle Harold Waterfront in the family company set my Christmas present to you is the back isn't going to take over the company has shared a big deal cuz my mother was riding my state of nature.

16:44 A matriarchal family

16:47 Cuz my grandpa has a character this guy.

16:52 Suture amount of energy

16:54 Which I inherited doing ecstatic that my son Elliot has in spades.

17:00 And my grandfather would hike every week at all over Mount Tamalpais blazing new trails and he traveled I have his passport and it's simply unbelievable the country is he visited her and not a matter of that's 2 years with all over Africa South America Europe and I can remember seeing movies are given by he took a friend's nose out of crossing a river and the Abaddon in the in Africa where they put this big log boats under each wheel and got the car cross the river and he was a very energetic guy who unfortunately

17:43 I became a little senile while he became very see no signal when he was in the seventies and they love to be in his nineties. So that was kind of tough and it wasn't Alzheimer's because he would have periods of lucidity.

17:59 Press play when he had a little wine. You'd be a little bit would loosen his arteries. I guess what he would have characterized very interesting fellow.

18:10 Remember used to always use the term remarkable. He would say that one time we were told that they stopped that they bought them out Bail hydromatic the first car that had automatic shift and he was Beethoven the bridge book calling a parade and he was stopped by a traffic cop in the end those days there weren't many people in Marin County. NE weather traffic officer said highway patrolman said not a doctor for Shell or his name if I was Pusha T o p i s c h e l

18:49 P i s c h e l and

18:54 He said Dr. Shallat, you were going 60 miles an hour to go 60 miles an hour and I work another time. In Sausalito where he had the kids there and he was totally oblivious to ask totally Louis cuz he was watching some ducks.

19:18 Off the shore there on there on Broadway Port Broadmoor broadwalk, whatever it's called and we go down and they stay down quite a while cuz they were getting food. I need to stand that. He just sit there with his hands behind his back saying I had my sister and I we we would get in the back of the car and we go down on the floor and put a blanket over rest cuz he was such an erratic driver just drove us. Absolutely crazy while I'm getting off too much now, let's see where was I felt good stuff out anyway, so my my mother's family was a dominant family. I had she had three siblings.

20:06 My ass in that is

20:09 Who are this is kind of a cute story to she married a felon in Harold Fletcher.

20:18 And who was Harold Fletcher house Fletcher?

20:23 Now that's my that's my mother's sister and that says how Fletcher was my father's best friend from cow. My father went to University of California and Harold Fletcher was the doctor and became a doctor. I had those two guys married sisters.

20:42 Now unfortunately, and by the way, they were both Hillbillies. That's the camp. I'm in the Bohemian Grove.

20:51 It's like a fraternity. They were both Hillbillies. They were lifelong friends when they were at Cal they they owned it's interesting. They own the Humor Magazine the pelican pelican. They owned it that that they they they sold ass and they made money on it. And so they they were real buddies in the enemy right sisters, but unfortunately and that is rather difficult women.

21:17 I'd say I got all the poor shall women or rather difficult including my sister, who said across that descended of them, but they got divorced Carlton and the nails and then there was the brother dormant. I shall who is absolutely wonderful man. And as I said earlier a very prominent Doctor opthalmologist Who were the Spanish doctor invented the how to replace the and a detached retina eye using electric-shock now they use the laser but I'm over Garmin used to go all over the world teaching that he was a very prominent and not world. I think I actually think he was president of the American Academy of ophthalmology.

22:11 Hyundai he was operated out of the what is How cow Pacific Medical Center, but that was Stanford.

22:21 And there's a library at Cal Pacific Medical Center. There's the Purcell Library. It's a library of awesome ology and their portraits are in there are my grandfather Kasper Michelle and my uncle Donald shall I think that's still there? I was there to the dedication about 15 years ago.

22:40 And then there was Harold for sale. My mother's youngest brother that he that poor guy. He went to Cal too. And he was a businessman. Why do I say poor guy? Cuz he inherited the burden of the family business Nevada pricing at a very young age. I think he was just barely Thirty of that and so he was

23:03 Always a very conservative guy and married a woman 26 years younger than he was by the way.

23:12 But Harold, he made a lot of mistakes to it didn't understand real estate in the family. Had a lot of Holdings.

23:20 In San Francisco that he sold much much to cheaply and then Ross out long story, but

23:29 Not that also was a disaster. He sold about 17 acres for $350,000 when my brother and I my brother Henry and I had offered to buy it for 2:25 in the hands on it and then out of the blue. He tells us I sold it.

23:47 We would have match that price.

23:50 I'm a guy. It was 17 acres and a pool and a tennis court is a real that's when I bought Napa. That's what I want to know.

24:01 Okay, so that's not my mother's siblings or an iOS Dorman and Harold.

24:08 And I didn't know my father's siblings except very rarely. There was Otto and Ernest and I think Ernest was the he took over the family back in, Iowa.

24:24 And

24:27 Ernest is a Highway engineer for California. And the other one was a banker and that's really low and then Dad had a sister named Jenny. Who was that?

24:43 That she was an old maid. She never got married and she she did visit us at Tahoe. I do remember her but again, very slight knowledge of my father's family.

24:55 Okay. Now let's see. Where are where I can parents my mother Zappa. That's s e p h a s not Zephyr like the breeze that says it's from Joseph on that and the Bible Evanescence s e p h a

25:13 My mother was a very strong.

25:17 Lovely about that. Very Regal looking woman a real lady who became head of everything. She ever was connected with and she went to UC Berkeley. Oh, I should have mentioned something quite remarkable my grandmother and boy women didn't go to college in those days. My grandmother went to UC Berkeley micros. Mama was a graduate of you. I don't got her father was also a region.

25:46 But I don't think those coincided I think she went there long before he became a region. She was an 18.

25:53 90s or so and he wasn't a reagent till until 1903 but that was considered quite something.

26:03 And okay, so Mom went to Brooklyn. She she

26:08 Was dad was the Class of 1911 at Berkeley.

26:14 And Mom wasn't until about 19.

26:19 70 nodding out. The reason is her.

26:23 She got married last night when she was in college and they they went over to China from 19.

26:30 1302 or 1914 to 17 Saint I'm a little vague on these dates, but never the last mom said she had to go back to Cali to get her degree.

26:42 And why do they go to China? I knew Peter noticed listen to Dad was hired by the Rockefeller Brothers to design the first Western Medical College in Beijing called Peking them.

26:59 I had it still it still standing still operating on Western medicine.

27:05 It's right downtown Beijing you'd hardly know it was there is almost the whole block any way they were there that was quite an experience.

27:16 And some mom did finally got her degree and I thought we were talking about her now. So I'll know what go more into her situation and she for instance. She was the founder the founding president of the marine conservation League.

27:34 And she and a woman named Caroline Livermore.

27:38 Who not Livermore is named after on Angel Island. The mountain on an Angel Island is called Mount Caroline Livermore.

27:49 And the Living Morris live right next door to us and in Ross next door means they're about a half a mile away. They literally were if not more and and her son Bob her youngest son of five model of moral is one of my best friends in my best man, and in my first wedding

28:08 And Bob and I went to Europe by the way in 1948 for the whole summer together, but I white mom and Caroline Livermore and a woman named Taliban help and a woman named Porsche Forbes.

28:23 They were they saw the bridge being built and they said we have to do something.

28:29 24 Marin County, so it doesn't become like Los Angeles.

28:37 So they formed the Grand conservation League.

28:40 And I hired the first County planner planner the county planner in the state. I think his name was Hugh.

28:52 Pomeroy, I'm not sure that but anyway that Miranda was the first County have a county plan and when people look around another thing they did is my mother and my father were both obsessed against two Billboards. So they passed out an anti billboard ordinance for Highway 101. And by the way Highway 101, if you can believe it with two lines, that was Tiny.

29:21 And the bridge in Richardson today was different than it is now as a very small fridge so they got the county plan and mom forced for Samuel Taylor Park and there's a plaque plaque that honors her for getting that Park established and I have that plaque at home and we're trying to get a replace cuz it was on a building that was torn to happen. But there's something there. I was there a year ago and you can still see you. I have a deal. I think we're going to be able to put it on a piece of stone. So I will be there forever and I'm working on that right now.

30:02 So Mom was she was there then we moved to the city during the war cuz Dad had a job.

30:09 My God is ever for the hour.

30:14 I'm just going to start.

30:18 Well, I may be too much. Maybe I'll get onto my way. We moved back to the city and then she became president of the century club and present of the Town and Country Club and man everything. She did she was boss and then thought she was a very loving woman and I was there some of the questions that Peter gave me for about my relationship with my parents and I was much closer to my mother and I was to my father to my father my father for this guy, but it was I just wasn't as close to him and let's see dad while I went to Cal as I said Berkeley High School Cal and he

30:56 What's an architect on a course to be an architect and be about 40 years old and have a crash, was not a very comfortable thing, but you got to hand it to him. He got government jobs until after the war and that means all through the thirties. We live very well because Dad was employed first as the guy to set up the FHA and the West

31:18 And finally, he was sad.

31:21 The head of the he was he was a chief of specifications for the World's Fair on Treasure Island in 1939, then became head of the war Manpower commission for for Northern California doing the actual war and then after the war I went back an architecture and especially was of all things breweries. So they did the Budweiser brewery down in Azusa, California at the hands hands. They did Lucky Lager and that was that was quite lucrative in and out on the sidelines with quite a businessman. I got into real estate that he was with some other guys and in Marin County real estate development between San Rafael and San samon Salmo about a few years ago. I got about a hundred grand out of it. It's a tail end of it.

32:16 And he also did Westridge with two other men and that's a pretty major. That's a major real estate interests outside Palo Alto de Portola Valley matter if they gave me a lot and I sold it for seventy-five hundred bucks so that we can buy for a ride and I could go to Europe for more sorrow. And of course right now, it's probably worth about a half a million. So that was a little early sale active. Oh, he was head of the San Francisco housing authority. I forgot to mention that like we could very well boy that was that was excited.

33:02 Cuz Maria Rossi wanted him to hire his son.

33:06 And Dad wouldn't do it and it got can't and it was actually on the front page of the chronicle of this is Andross. He got defeated in the next election. I want two main reasons. Why was cuz he wanted my dad to hire this and then come poop and it wouldn't do it. Like I can and the Commissioners light housing authority Commissioners all back my father, but it wants to write but it was very mad at my dad was a good guy and he'd been head of a California roadside Council and that's that's a notable because what is the council who is fights billboards?

33:42 Well, I'll be damned if it about how many years later but many years later. I became have a California roadside Council and I hadn't even realized that Dad had been head of it. It was the damnedest thing is your father than in this thing. But either way there was okay now Peter what? I think that's a pretty good. I haven't talked about my siblings how I can send out here. What would you like as parents? And what was your relationship to your parents?

34:12 Well, they're very caring. I mean after all I was 104 I was the youngest.

34:21 Hey.

34:23 Why was the my old okay, they were very caring on my mother. They were rather demanding I mean, but they were people of great integrity and

34:36 I have no complaints about my can parents my parents whatsoever. Am I out of my dad was a guy that taught me Integrity Integrity Integrity. I mean, he was very honest hard-working guy.

34:51 And they're both educated people. They were high by most standards. They were a fluid cuz after the Depression after the war the family business came back and dad had a pretty good practice and the

35:07 And the Westridge was trying out very nicely. So I'll let you know. We always they always had help and they lived very well right by the way, they move back into the house.

35:17 When they moved to the city, they bought a place in Seacliff and that's true and I went to Lowell High School out of that place and that place they sold in my brother and they moved back to Ross to take care of my grandfather cuz my grandmother had died.

35:34 So they had the big house and Ross not the little house that we had a little house or is Dark Horse relative relative to the house and they move back there to take care of my grandfather and they live there for a number of years. I can I couldn't tell you how many maybe 10 or 15 and then they moved to the city and they they brought one of the floors.

36:04 And

36:07 What is the time at Steiner it was 2500?

36:13 Beautiful are there on the 8th floor of that building and it's a non-conforming high-rise and that it was a fabulous apartment. Anyway, that's where they lived till they died. My mother died first and then my father my mother died at I think they do 81 or 82 and dad died at 87 or 89. I always get mixed up there, but for dad had a he had a stroke.

36:40 You had a hemorrhagic stroke not an Icee make when he was 72 and the poor guy live to be 87 or 89 and he would have crippled and disabled. It would take him 5 minutes to crawl across around on this is rather tragic. Could Hitman he's been a pretty prominent athlete has young man.

37:02 He was a high jumper in high school and he was active in the student body in Ohio me very active fell.

37:09 I know my relationship but was much more intimate with my mother as far as having time with her and I come home from school and we'd sit down and cruise the breeze.

37:20 But that was always very supportive. He was incredibly Martin that as far as table manners coconuts, but I guess I drove him nuts back.

37:33 Have I the way that I have my own family table manners became a big thing cuz Edwina didn't take that mattered. And of course, I've been brought up that they were terribly important. We have more damn beef about table manners. I was going to say you carried on your dad's tradition pretty well with a sable matters me to honor britt-marie.

38:01 Europeans eat totally differently in the midday. They have the fork in the left hand and that's how I just gave up. I mean you guys your mom a tactic that department or less.

38:14 But even now I even though I like yesterday, I was walking down the street with us and wouldn't either, Gary and I was on the inside that towards the buildings and you know, I was uncomfortable. I just said what should I tell her I got to get out of it cuz my mother always made me walk on the outside cuz that's what you did cuz that's where the mud came from the protector shut up and just kept walking. I'd probably five years ago. I would have said, you know, I have to get out there cuz it really bothered me physically cannot be on the outside.

38:50 Okay. Well, I guess that's probably enough on background about my family. I'll have one one more thing my grandfather for sale Cass Pharmacy Arvada. Michelle. He has in him some blood that it in Australia is very big. It's called spec Bakker spec Bakker spec Bakker is a minor hero in Austria. And anybody any Australian will know the name spec Bakker and his my grandfather's leather.

39:26 Casper's mother had spec Bakker blood in her. He was a lieutenant of Andreas Hofer who was a great fighter against Napoleon.

39:37 You can you can Google.

39:40 Sparkly Joseph Joseph spec Boxster S p e c k e r b a c h e r spec Bakker. If you Google it you'll be very interesting reading. He was a fugitive and then he was honored by the king and then he was a future that was very interesting God We Are tour through Central Germany. We had an Australian guy. A lot a week end of the tour. I said, you know, by the way, you know, the answers back bar just looked at me like I just couldn't believe that this American jerk was a spec Bakker. So that was fun.