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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Charles Mantkus on Leona Shafer

Charles wrote this for me about a year ago when I asked him to write something about Betty's Mother Leona. I wanted to re-post this since it talks about the time that Betty & Charles first met.

Just a short note on "Mom" Shafer When I first met Leona Shafer I was but 16 years old and working in a fruit and vegetable market. Seems she would always come in on a Saturday around noon or a little later. I always tried to wait on her myself as she was so pleasing and knew exactly what she wanted. It made working so much easier. This one day she came in and had a beautiful looking girl with her. In a little while I found out that the girl was her daughter, Betty. At the same time I turned to a fellow worker (Bob Lepano) and told him - "See that young lady over there at the meat counter?" He said "Yes I see her" Anyway I told him - "That’s the girl I’m going to marry." and I hadn’t even met her yet. After getting what she wanted from the butcher shop, Leona Shafer and her daughter came to the vegetable section. And of course I waited on her. I was introduced to her daughter and at that moment I was completely fouled up. Leona wanted two bunches of radishes and one bunch of onions. I got her two bunches of onions and one bunch of radishes and the foul up continued. Leona could see what was happening and she just grinned and bore with me. It took quite a while after that before I even had a chance to ask her daughter out for a date. That first date with Betty brought me to the Shafer home on Shannon Street in Spokane. There is where I really started to get to know Leona (Mom) Shafer. Mom Shafer was the kind of person you could put your trust in or ask her a question and always get a sane and simple complete answer to your inquiry. That is when she became my second Mom. Mom always seemed to stand up for me, much to the amazment of her kids (Betty and Gene). When something came up Mom and I would talk about it and come up with an answer. We would tell stories that we had heard and could hardly wait until our next meeting to share them. I never had to worry about Betty when I was in the service as I knew Mom and Dewey were taking excellant care of her. And when my daughter appeared on the scene Mom was right there to help out. I was always pulling tricks on Mom. As an example - One day I was standing in their hallway and leaned against the wall opening to the living room. I reached up and ran my fingers on the woodwork above the opening and brought down a smidgen of dust. I accused Mom of not being a very good housekeeper. Mom was just about five foot tall and it would have been impossible for her to even come close to reaching that heighth. She never forgot it and neither did I. It was done many more times after that. Mom Shafer is someone I could never ever forget. She was there when I needed an answer and her answers were always correct and the way they should be. Mom treatrd me as one of the family from the first day I entered her home. She was a grand and upstanding lady who I loved as a mother and a person I could depend on. May she rest in the peace and comfort of heaven as she made things so on earth. Her Son-in-law Charles Mantkus

Betty Mantkus’ History By Sally Shafer Burrows

My Aunt Betty recently passed away and so my Mother Sally wrote this short history.

Betty was born in Colfax, Washington to Leona Grimm Evans and Delbert Gallauger. Mother Leona, I believe, was nursing her invalid Mother, Ida Florence Grimm Evans when Betty was a baby. Betty’s Grandpa Ervin Minard Evans had already passed on. Mama Leona’s marriage didn’t last and her in-laws disowned Betty and her brother Gene. Some people wanted to adopt Betty & Gene, (they were gorgeous children) but mother couldn’t stand for that. Mama Leona had jobs in a bakery and dipping chocolates, but finally moved in with her step father, George Ramsey or “Gobby” as Betty’s daughter, Joanne, used to call him. Mother used to cuddle and swing with Betty & Gene in the evening and yodel to the neighbor. Eventually mother became a cook on a wheat ranch in Palouse, Washington and met John Dewey Shafer, a ranch hand. They fell in love and John moved them to Republic, Washington to work for his Dad for a while on another ranch. Dad’s sister Aileen helped Betty adjust to school.

Then Dad followed Grandpa to the Salmon, Idaho area because his sister Pauline’s rich husband wanted to invest in another Ranch. Dad and his family lived in a tent.

Well it didn’t have water! So, Dad moved his family to Spokane during the depression and took whatever work he could. Mom made Betty and Gene’s clothes out of flour sacks. One time when they were living on the west side of Spokane and the kids had walked to the Fox theater, Gene was tired on the walk home so Betty carried him along the long train trestle to home.

After Betty married Charles Mantkus and was expecting a baby he was drafted into the World War 2 Theater in Africa as an Engineer Corp Sergeant. Betty cane with the baby, Joanne, the cutest little blue eye blond, to live with us. “Joey” became my little sister. Eventually Betty was able to move across the street into her own home. She worked at the Fairchild PX to help support her and Joanne. (We were proud of Charles when he came home.

They moved down the street into an apartment until they could afford a lovely home on Empire and John their other child soon joined them. Betty took such good care of the home and yard, volunteered I think in Joanne’s school and taught Sunday school. She was a cook in Charles’s tavern on Monroe until they moved to Pasadena, California. I never got to see that home, but it sounded lovely with the “Betty touch”. Her children, John & Joanne graduated from school down there and started their own lives.

Charles managed two car dealerships in the area and they moved to Wrightwood, California, a ski lodge area high in the mountains. They built their dream home until Charles’s war sicknesses and driving two hours in the Los Angeles traffic to get to work got the bets of his health. The doctor recommended a dry place like Deming New Mexico.

They moved there and bought a beautiful Spanish home that a doctor had owned with a swimming pool. They had many Shriners parties and guests there. Meanwhile they took lovely trips to Europe and the Caribbean.

Betty did a lot of charity work for organizations, church, friends and neighbors. She even had an exchange student for awhile and they’ve remained friends.

Betty was a dear friend and we became closer as I got older and matured a little.