I was born in Santa Ana, Orange County, California on May 2, 1890.
Santa Ana was founded in the year 1869 by William H. Spurgeon. My grandfather "William H. Titchenal" settled there this same year. The first church established in the settlement being the Methodist Episcopal Church South, was started in the home of my grandfather in December 1869. His house was one of the first to be built in the town.
One of my first remembrances was when I was five years old. Mother had sent me to a private school run by one of her friends, a "Mrs. Mosher." The first day of school, which by the way was my first and last day in that school. I turned over a bottle of ink belonging to my cousin, who was also attending the school and was a couple of years my senior. I remember him slapping me during the recess period and making me cry, and I got one of the other little boys to go with me and we ran away from school and went home. No more private school for me.
At the age of six, I again started to school, but this time to the public school. I had been going to school for about two months, when one evening while playing on the grass, I fell and broke my leg and was laid up in bed for several weeks with my leg in a cast. I can remember my first grade teacher "Miss Blanche Collins" coming to see and kissing me. I was very much embarrassed. After getting up from bed I had to use crutches for some time. I did not go back to school that year.
Another story the folks tell on me was one I do not remember myself. I must have been pretty young at the time. I seemed to have run away and the folks were hunting the town over for me, and finally found me sound asleep under a tree about half way between home and town.
Another episode in my young life I remember was at the age of eight, one of my boy friends and I gathered up all the old rags we could find and packed them off to the office of the daily newspaper and sold them. I do not remember how much money we got for the rags, but my share came to enough for me to purchase my first pocket knife, and on the way home I cut one of my fingers. Mother took the knife away from me.
Circus day was always a highlight in our young lives. In the early days of the circus they always had a big parade. School always let out for the parade, but I usually failed to attend school on circus day. I would get up early and beat it to the railroad yards to watch the circus unload, and then follow the wagons to the circus grounds to watch the big tents go up. I usually got a job carrying stakes, etc., for which work we would get a free ticket to the show. It was very fascinating for me at the cook tent, to watch the chefs cooking breakfast for the circus personnel. It always smelled so good around this tent. I used to be very much scared of the elephants. I can remember when viewing the parade I would always stand close to some stairway, so that I could run up the stairs while the elephants were passing by.
Another highlights was the fourth of July. There was always a big celebration on that day. There was no ban on firecrackers, and some of them were pretty big and dangerous; they really made a big noise when shot off. I remember one of my little school chums had his arm hurt so badly by a firecracker that is had to be cut off. I remember one fourth of July back in 1900 there was a balloon ascension. The man giving the exhibition let a number of us boys hold the ropes of the balloon while it was being filled with gas. When it was ready to let go, this man went up with it hanging by his teeth. When the balloon was up several hundred feet in the air, the strap broke and the man to his death. I was pretty scared the rest of the day.
We lived in a two story house on Wellington Avenue. There were seven of us in our family: Father, Mother, an older brother "Leon" who was two years my senior, I was next, then two sisters "Myrtle and Stella", and a younger brother "Jack." Father was 20 years older than Mother. There was an acre of land with this place, and I remember we had 10 loquot trees that always had plenty of loquots on them in season. Mother used to make jelly out of them, if she could get to them before the neighborhood kids got to them. One of my friends had a large fig tree in their yard, and we used to spend a lot of time in that tree when the figs were ripe.