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Owen, Glen (1919 - 1987)

December 11, 1919 to March 31, 1987

THE EARLY YEARS . . .

Glen was born in Commerce, Oklahoma along with his twin who died at birth. It's believe he also had a sister who died at a very young age. His father, Glenn Owen senior worked underground in the Lead and Tin mines. His mother, Mildred (Dennis) Owen tended to the home, growing her own fruits and vegetables and raising prize winning Chickens for meat, eggs and a little extra income.

Photo of baby Glen

Glen, his Father and Mother . . . at home with the Chickens in Commerce OK

Downtown Commerce OK, circa 1918

With the Lead and Zinc mines off in the distance, the heavy pollution in the air is really evident in this vintage photo

Glen's first grade school picture

Glen standing right of center wearing a white shirt, overalls and a sweater, holding a book

Glen and his beloved bike . . .

His bike had one gear, with no coaster, and no brakes . . . he said he had to jump the rear wheel off the ground and skid to a stop! He loved to go downhill, really fast!

Glen with his Aunt Pearl and his Mom

Glen with his Dog

LIFE AND DEATH IN OKLAHOMA . . .

Life was hard, and when Glen was 9 years old his father, Glenn Owen senior, became ill with a non-specific lung disease. The family, at the recommendation of his Doctor, decided to move him to Southern California. According to the Mitchelson & Thomas Funeral Home, Commerce OK records, he passed away in the Veterans Hospital on December 13th 1929, just 2 days after Glen’s 10th Birthday. Back in Miami Oklahoma, just a day later on December 14th 1929, Glen's Grandfather Will Owen died. The cause of death was listed as "Tuberculosis", probably the same type that affected many of the miners, as well as the general local population at the time.

Glen's Dad, Glenn Owen senior, at age 18, Circa 1914

Milred and Glenn Owen, at a family outing

The Lead and Zinc mines in Commerce, Oklahoma

Glenn Owen, second from left

Both Glen's father Glenn Owen, and his Grandfather Will Owen served in the U.S. Army during WWI "The Great War"

"Welcome Home" Parade for Veterans of WWI, Sept. 26, 1919, Miami, Oklahoma

Mildred Dennis Owen, circa 1929

Glenn Owen, circa 1928

Glen's Grandfather Will Owen, circa 1925

Glen's Grandmother Alice Gasaway Owen, circa 1925

Glen’s Aunt, Myles Butterly Owen, wife of his Uncle Herman Owen, mother of Herman Owen Jr., passed away on June 2nd 1928. His paternal Grandmother Alice Owen passed away on May 3rd of 1929. On January 19th 1930, an infant Will Owen died at birth. Just 15 days later, on February 3rd 1930, his infant cousin, son of his Uncle John, died at 4 hours old. John Owen later lost another infant son, Earnest James Owen on June 18th, 1931. There were so many untimely deaths in the family, in such a short span of time, that it seems hard to imagine.

The Owen family home in Miami, Oklahoma

Built by Glen's Grandfather Will Owen in 1910, this photo was taken around 1985

A NEW START IN CALIFORNIA . . .

After the Oklahoma funeral of his Father and Grandfather on December 16th, 1929, Glen and his mother returned to California. They settled in Long Beach. It was just the start of the Great Depression and through a friend, his mother Mildred was able to find work. She worked on the gambling ships, like the SS REX, that operated beyond the 3-mile limit outside of Los Angeles (Long Beach) Harbor and Santa Monica. As a Cocktail Waitress and Shill, she made pretty good money for the time, but it wasn’t the best situation for a single Mom rearing a son. The hours were long, late into the night and most every day of the year, but they would have to make do.

Veterans Administration Hospital, Long Beach, CA circa 1930

Glen's father passed away at the VA Hospital in Long Beach, CA on December 13th, 1929 . . . the same Hospital where Glen himself passed away more than 57 years later in 1987.

The Gambling Ship SS REX, operating outside of Santa Monica, CA circa 1930

Home alone while his mother was at work, Glen told that at such a young age, he was so afraid that he had to sleep with a knife under his pillow. Sometimes it wasn’t much better when his mother did come home, if she was with some drunken gambler, or sailor, or so-called “Uncle”. But at least they had warm clothes, a place to live, and food on the table. During that early era of The Great Depression, things could have been much worse.

Glen and his mother Mildred, circa 1932

Long Beach Polytechnic High School, circa 1934

Long Beach Polytechnic, 2008

Glen attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School from 1934 through 1938 with elective studies in Commercial and Industrial Arts. He ran B track and field in High School, and won a bronze medal for the long jump at 23’-8” as a sophomore. In his High School Senior Yearbook, he was sometimes affectionately described as a little selfish and cynical. After recounting his early childhood, I shouldn’t wonder.

Glen's B Track and Fiead team as a senior, 1938. Glen is bottom row, last one on the right

Glen Owen, B Track 1938

Glen's High School Senior Yearbook Photo

One of the after school and weekend jobs he did around that time was as an exercise boy for the horses at Hollywood Park Racetrack. He knew all the trainers and jockeys back then, and learned a few tips and tricks along the way. After High School, he worked odd jobs that he could find, and when war broke out on December 7th 1941, just 4 days shy of his 22nd Birthday, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve before he could be drafted. The Coast Guard Reserve was there in Long Beach to keep an eye out against a possible Japanese invasion of the coast of California. They were also on night watch, and responsible for keeping the coastal area dark and secure during mandatory blackouts.

WWII - A CALL TO DUTY . . .

This is the apartment building Glen lived in, probably with his mother, at the time he entered WWII. The address he wrote in the Bible he carried throughout the war is: 854 Pacific, Long Beach, Calif. These pictures of the Apartment building were taken in April, of 2008.

Glen's apartment on Pacific Ave., in Long Beach, CA

Apartment 854, downstairs at the back

Before entering the war in 1944, Glen could be found hanging out with gamblers and bookmakers, and he had started smoking and drinking quite heavily. His mother said that when she found out he was smoking, she cried. One day, a bartender told him that he probably didn’t realize it, but he was putting away more than a fifth of hard liquor every day. He was shocked, and put down all but occasional social drinking after that. But he didn’t stop the smoking. It would take something far more serious to finally stop that, around 1972.

This is the Bible Glen carried throughout the war. His son has this Bible, as well as the Bible Glen's father, Glenn Owen, carried into WWI.

Glen Owen, Private First Class, USCG

Glen's Dog Tags

In 1944, he was assigned to the USS General W. M. Black (AP-135), commissioned 24 February. On the first voyage out of San Francisco, they sailed to Pearl Harbor, New Caledonia and Guadalcanal. From there, Balboa, the Canal Zone, and New Orleans. Then they headed for Kingston, Jamaica, and off to Norfolk, VA. Next, after 13 transatlantic round-trip voyages to Naples, the UK (Plymouth, Liverpool, Southampton), France (Cherbourg, Le Havre, Marseilles), North Africa (Oran) and Germany (Bremerhaven), they set off for India via the Suez Canal.

Manned by Coast Guard 24 February 1944 - 28 February 1946

Displacement 9,950 (lt.); Length 522'10"; Beam 71'6"; Draft 26'6"; Speed 16.5 k.; Complement 512; Troops 3,823; Armament 4 5", 8 1.1", 16 20mm.

General W. M. Black (AP-135) was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract 26 November 1942 by Kaiser Co., Inc., Yard 3, Richmond, Calif.; launched 23 July 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Decatur S. Higgins; acquired by the Navy 26 January 1944; converted to a transport by Matson Navigation Co., San Francisco; and commissioned 24 February 1944, Captain J. P. Murray, USCG, in command.

Group photo of the crew aboard the General W.M. Black, AP135

Glen Owen, PFC USCG

From India, across the Pacific, they returned to Boston via the Panama Canal with veterans of the war in the South Pacific. The USS General W. M. Black was decommissioned 28 February 1946 and was returned to service as an Army transport. One of the most active ships of her type, the General W. M. Black had plied the world's oceans and touched many distant ports in completing her varied missions as a troopship.

Glen manning the 5 inch gun at the stern of the ship

FAMILY LIFE, AS A HUSBAND AND A FATHER . . .

After the war, Glen took a job as a Dispatcher for a Tugboat operator in Long Beach (Los Angeles) Harbor where he met Florence, his future wife of 37 years. Florence Amelia Eckroat was a Payroll Clerk for the company, the same type of work she did for the Department of the Navy on Terminal Island during the war.

Glen and his wife of 37 years, Florence Amelia Eckroat-Owen, around 1968

They were married in 1949, and in 1950 their son Dennis was born. As husband and wife, they lived in a rental house in the back, on Gaviota Ave., in Long Beach, CA, just north of 10th Street. Dennis was born at Saint Mary’s Hospital about a mile away on 10th St. near Atlantic.

St. Mary's Medical Center where Glen's only child Dennis was born in 1950

The house on Gaviota Ave.

Glen and Florence lived here, around back

Soon after Dennis was born, they moved to a nicer rental home on Termino Ave., about 2½ miles away from the Gaviota house, where they remained until 1955. Through the G.I. Bill, they were able to get a loan on a new tract home in Garden Grove, CA, on Dakota Ave. near Trask and Magnolia, where they lived throughout the remainder of their married life.

Before they moved to Garden Grove, Glen had started working as a Dispatcher, with a Sportfishing outfit at Pacific Landing in Long Beach, for the owner of the Pacific Queen. The Pacific Queen still operates today, probably with a different owner, out of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Diego.

Glen as a Sportfishing Dispatcher

The Pacific Queen, 2008 . . .

The Garden Grove house sold new for $12,500.00, with no down on a 30-year mortgage, at 3½% fixed interest. Garden Grove was really the “Suburbs” back then, and orange groves and strawberry fields surrounded the housing tract, with a dairy farm only about a ½ mile away down Trask Avenue.

At home in Garden Grove. On the left is Florence's nephew Carl, Glen's mother Mildred, Florence's niece Roberta, Glen and Florence.

Glen with his Aunt "Ted", Estelle Owen

Florence and Glen, Christmas 1971

After the move to Garden Grove, Glen started working with one of his war buddies, Larry, who was a Licensed Surveyor. Glen never got a Surveyor’s License, but he did the exact same job, and with Larry to sign off on the work they made a great team. Glen continued to work as a Surveyor, throughout most of the El Toro and Irvine hills area, until he retired in 1975.

Glen's Uncle Bill, Aunt Louise and Aunt Ted

Around 1972, Glen was officially diagnosed with Emphysema, and that’s what it would take to finally stop him smoking. His cigarette of choice was Kool Menthols, one of the worst kind for lung damage. He said that he had always known he had some sort of lung problem as a kid, and that whenever he ran he was always more out of breath than the other kids were. Lung problems seem to run in the family. Glen's doctor at St. Mary’s put him on the Heart-Lung transplant list, but being in his mid-fifties, the chances of him getting a transplant were slim and none. Most Heart-Lung transplant recipients were in their mid-forties. For Glen, the inevitable was only a matter of time.

After 1975, he lived a good retirement on Disability for the next 10 years. He and Florence took many auto trips visiting relatives up and down the West Coast, and Las Vegas was always one of their favorite spots.

Glen and Florence at home in Garden Grove, Christmas 1985

By 1985 he was feeling too ill to drive any more, and soon needed full-time care at hospice. The last two years were a rough time for both him and Florence.

Florence and Glen at the Hospice around Christmas time in 1986, a few months before he passed away

At the Hospice he had been going down hill rapidly, and was in and out of the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach on a regular basis for the last six months of his life. He finally succumbed to the illness, and passed away on March 31, 1987, in the same Hospital as his Father years earlier. May God bless him, and may he rest in peace.

To find out more about the lives of Glen and Florence Owen, please visit the following link . . .

MEMORIAM.ORG - FLORENCE A OWEN MEMORIAL http://memoriam.org/memorials/florenceowen