Chapter I

My parents history & Ancestry.

My birth name is Jerold Jay Bertonneau.
I was born in the Pasadena Lutheran Hospital in Pasadena, California on November 8, 1943 at 11:50 PM. Jean Maxine Welch, then 19 is my mother. I was my mother's first child. My father's name was Richard Charles Bertonneau. His family called him Bud, so I will also use that name here. Apparently, from what I understand from words my mother related to my sister Susan, my mother & father were married sometime in 1946, before my brother Michael was born. The only information I have about my father is at the bottom of this chapter. In this & in 9 more Chapters are the story of my life. Not all is here, because some parts I cannot remember, & other parts I prefer to not remember. I may not be proud of all the things I've done in the past, but I am proud of who I am today & I continue to strive to be a better person. I hope that you will enjoy reading my story.

In this beautiful February, 1943 photo above, my mother Jean is leaning against my father's 1939 Ford Convertible. We were attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, so this photo was taken during WAR time! Everything was highly rationed by the time this photo was taken, so that may explain the terrible condition of the tires on my fathers Ford convertible. I was born on November 8, 1943. Depending on which February day this photo was taken, my mother is 1-3 weeks pregnant with me in this photo. Being that both Jean & Bud were living in Pasadena when this photo was taken, it appears to have been taken on the then famous (to Pasadena people) Christmas Tree lane in Pasadena. This long, North-South road was lined on both sides with beautiful homes and every December, the people who lived on this street decorated the big, pine trees in front of their homes with all kinds of Christmas lights and other Christmas decorations. I remember my parents taking me & my brother to "Lets go see the lights on Christmas tree lane." Note that even this famous place still was not paved when this photo was taken.

If you are a car buff, you may already know that the 1939 Ford was the last year for 2 items. Do you have any idea what the 2 new features that came standard on the 1940 Fords, that this 1939 Ford did not have? What are the 6 optional accessory items shown on this Ford? The answers are at the bottom of this page. Below is some history about my mother's family.

My mother, Jean Maxine Welch was the third child of Riley & Hallie Welch, born on August 30, 1924 in Lyons, Kansas. My mother Jean had an older sister named Ardys & brother named Paul, born in that order.

Below is some history about my mother's parents.

The above is a wedding photo of Hallie & Riley, married on April 24, 1917 in Lyons, Kansas. Riley Oscar Welch was born on March 4, 1892 & his family was from England. Hallie Dora Paul was born on March 27, 1888 & her family was from Germany. So, with that information, it is easy to deduct that Riley was 25 & Hallie was 29 when they married.

My Grandfather Riley was mechanically inclined when he was young, and he liked to invent & build things. My mother seemed to think that her father & his brothers were involved in starting up the Welch Automobile factory in Chelsea, Michigan. I have included as much information below as I have been able to find about the Welch Car Company, but after collecting the information below, it seems like my mother's father Riley was not involved with the Welch Car Company.

A research done by George Sparrow published in the Chelsea Standard Newspaper in May 12, 2010 about the Welch automobile being built in Chelsea, Michigan by 2 Welch brothers, Fred & A. R Welch. "The 2 Welch bothers set up a bicycle shop in Chelsea in 1901 and soon began experimenting with automobile engines. They put together a car to test their engines and had it ready for the road that year. They had such success that they offered the Welch “Tourist” at the Chicago auto show in 1903. The Chelsea Manufacturing Company built the Welch car. Unfortunately, within the next year financial problems cropped up and the Chelsea plant was closed. Above is a newspaper clipping photo of the 1903 Welch Automobile, their first year of production.

After their financial problems in 1903, the Welch brothers decided to move their plant to Pontiac and in 65 days put together a four-cylinder car for the 1904 Detroit auto show. It was a huge car that featured a telescoping steering wheel that could be adjusted from the inside, shaft drive, hexagonal hood and radiator shell. The photo above shows their 1905 model, a Limousine/touring car

By 1907 they offered a convertible model and an open touring car. These cars ranged in price from $4,000 to $8,000 and sold well at the time. A larger plant was built to meet the demands of the public for these cars and they introduced a smaller model named the “Welch Detroit.”

Below is a photo of a 1909 Welch brochure showing the various Welch models they offered in what was probably their last year of production.

Near the end of 1909, General Motors took in the company and expectations were high that the Welch would be their leader. The death of Fred Welch that year spelled the end of the Welch car in the future for General Motors. The Harrah Antique Automobile Collection in Reno, Nevada has a 1909 Welch car in its collection."

Here is more information about the Welch Automobile & the company they formed to build their cars. Author Unknown.

The Welch automobile was made from 1903 - 1911 in three locations: by the Chelsea Manufacturing Company in Chelsea, Michigan from 1903 - 1904 and by the Welch Motor Car Co. in Pontiac, Michigan from 1904 - 1911 and in Detroit from 1909 - 1911.
The Welch brothers put their car together in the Chelsea plant which was a bicycle shop.
Their car was introduced at the 1903 Chicago Show.
They made a few cars there before setting up a factory at Pontiac where the Welch brothers made larger cars.
Later, they opened their Detroit factory to make a smaller car known as the Welch-Detroit.
In 1911, the company appears to have been bought out by General Motors who had the machinery in the Pontiac and
Detroit factories removed and moved to Saginaw, Michigan where it was used to manufacture the Marquette.
Henry Ford built experimental cars in 1896 and 1898 which puts him ahead of the Welch brothers who did not begin experimenting until 1901.
Ford's first production car was the Model A in 1903, the same as the Welch, which could very well have beat the Ford out that year.

Very little information is available today about the Welch car company, which Welch family member did what in the company, etc., etc. or how many cars were produced through the years. I have a photo of the Welch family taken in the early 1900's, & no Fred or A. R Welch are shown in that photo, but maybe they may have not been able to pose for that photo because of business constraints. General Motors Corp. may have bought the Welch Car Company to reduce competition for their cars. Below is a Welch family photo.

Above is a nice studio photo of my grandfather's family. From my mother's information while she was still alive, I have labeled the people in this photo. The year? Oscar certainly looks much younger to me then in his 1917 wedding photo above, so I think I would put a date on this photo of about 1905-1910? My mother told me, that several of the Welch children are missing in this photo. My mother also told me that her father's brother Dow was killed during "A land rush". The last land rush occurred in 1895 in Oklahoma, so I am unsure about that story of her's because it appears to me, that Dow would have been too young then. Fred Welch died in 1909. The average US male life expectancy in 1909 was 50.5 years, so could it be, that Fred Welch was a brother of Eli Welch? Perhaps I will come across some additional Welch family history, to prove or disprove some of these theories.

My Grandfather Riley also designed & built a grain blower, below

This machine, a pneumatic blower, can move grain from a harvester into a wagon. It was typically powered by a Steam Tractor using the big leather belt. My mother told me that Riley designed & built several other things, but according to her, there are no photos or written evidence of other inventions her father built, only that she remembered hearing her family talk about her fathers other inventions when she was young. Below is a very interesting old photo that has a huge story to tell. Unfortunately, there is no information about who, when, where or WHY?

What do you see in this photo? I see that the Steam Tractor is fired up, as there is a slight trace of smoke coming from it's smoke stack. It appears to me, that this party of people have pulled off the road to pose for this photo. Maybe the steam tractor needs water for it's boiler, & there is a nearby stream? The tractor appears to be pulling some type of farm harvesting machine, most commonly called a Threshing Machine. Behind the harvesting machine is a team of horses possibly pulling a wagon with a small house on the wagon? If you study the history of this moment in rural farm life, the owner of the tractor goes from farm to farm during harvesting time & contracts with local farmers to harvest their crops. When harvest time comes to a farm community, ALL members of several farms pool their labor to harvest the crops fast & efficiently, because even with these modern machines, much additional labor was needed to do the many additional jobs needed to harvest a crop on a farm. According to Wikipedia.com, "Jobs included driving the bundle racks, pitching bundles into the threshing machine, supplying water for the steam engine, hauling away the freshly threshed grain and scooping it into the granary." The small house in the rear of this photo may be a portable cook house, & for the women in the photo, it would be their job to prepare food for this team of people. 1915-1920 is the date I would put on this photo. By about 1920, most of these steam tractors had been replaced by far more fuel efficient & easier to maintain gasoline powered tractors.

This excellent quality photo above shows another moment in Riley's life. He was also a volunteer fireman for the Lyons, Kansas fire department. This photo can be somewhat dated by the fire trucks, which now have Electric lights, so they are most likely from early 1920's. By 1925, Riley may have been having difficulty supporting his growing family in Kansas. In those days, there was a lot of talk about the better opportunities to make a living "Out West", as it was called there, So I am sure after much planning & thought, he packed his families entire belongings in & on their Durant Touring car and headed West as so many others had already done.

The photo above is of my grandfathers Durant touring car. From my research, this car appears to be a 1923 model. It was very typical of the times to tie & strap most of your larger possessions on the side of your car, because there was virtually no other way to transport those items. This photo was taken in Lyons, Kansas on August 28, 1925 before they left for California. The wheels are muddy, so it appears that this car has been recently driven on some muddy dirt roads. In 1925, most roads were dirt, so can you imagine driving almost 2000 miles on dirt roads to get to your destination! It may have taken them several months to drive from Lyons, Kansas to Pasadena, California.

Above is another photo of their Durant car. From left, Dora is holding my mother Jean, who is 1 year old in this photo. Then Ardys, Paul & Riley. They all look like they had heavy clothes on, most likely because this car did not have side curtains, so you can imagine how cold you could get being driven down a cold, dirt road in this open car! Also, note that in 1925, most everybody still wore a hat. Here is some information about my grandfather's car. The Durant automobile company was started in 1921 by Billy Durant, a former GM CEO. This touring model was produced between 21-26. A 1926 Durant Touring model sold for $830 & was equal in price, equipment & quality to an Oldsmobile. A new Durant came standard with an Ammeter, Electric Horn, Spare tire mount, Jack, Transmission lock, Tools & a Speedometer!

When the Welch family came to Pasadena, California in 1925, My grandfather, now 33 years old got a job right away working in a gas station owned by his brother when he first arrived. My grandmother Dora was now 37 years old.

Later Riley bought the gas station from his Brother. The above photo is a scan of his business card when he owned the gas station in Pasadena. When I was born, Riley had an automotive repair shop in the garage of his Elizabeth St., Pasadena home and repaired cars for a living there.

Above is a late 1920's photo of my mother & her siblings. From left, Paul, Jean & Ardys Welch. This photo appears to have been taken in a Pasadena Park after Sunday school.

As I stated above, my father’s name is Richard Charles Bertonneau. Bud, as his family called him, was born in Scoby, Montana, on February 16, 1919. By 1930, his family had moved to Pasadena, California. Bud's father was Francois Henry Bertonneau, Born on June 14, 1871 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His family was from France. He passed away Nov. 7, 1930 in Pasadena, California. Bud's Mother was Maria Octavia Vaccaro, Born on May 1, 1879 in New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana. Her family was from Italy. She passed away on Sep. 7, 1964 in Pasadena, California. Before Bud met my mother, Bud enlisted in the US Marine Corps on June 11, 1938 in Los Angeles, California. He was 19 then. Some of Bud's Military history reports that Bud was stationed in San Diego, California in June, 1940 in 1-6, Conf awtg BCD. 7, with BDC pur, sent SCM app 23Apr39. Char BAD. 16 das lost art. 10-99 (1) MCM. I believe the Marine Corps information indicates Bud went AWAL & was later given a dishonorable discharge from the Marine Corps in June, 1940.

According to my mother, Bud was a spoiled child, and had never learned much responsibility when he was young. Bud’s parents were somewhat wealthy, and my mother told me that they had a maid and other servants in their home, so Bud may not have had any responsibilities when he was growing up. When Jean & Bud were together, My mother said that Bud could never keep a job long, and according to my mother, most of the time he had no job, so you can imagine that this situation caused a LOT of distress for my mother. My mother also said, that whenever he was gone, he was often with another women. At the time of this writing, I know my mother & father were married sometime in 1946 before my brother Michael was born, but exactly when or where I do not know. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of Buds parents or of Bud & Jean's wedding.


Above is the only photo that I have of my real father. My only memory of my father Bud is when my brother Michael & I visited him one day in the late 60's’s. He had remarried then, and the above photo shows Bud & his wife in front of their El Monte, California home. Bud died of a heart attack at the age of 66 on October 17, 1985 in Coquille, Oregon.

Whether or not the above is true or not, I have no idea. Sounds good! It was my last name for the first 7 years of my life. After my mother remarried, then I would have a different last name.

Answers to the Ford questions above. All US 1940 Fords were sold with Sealed Beam Headlamps. The 39's had a polished Chrome reflector with a replaceable bulb. Dust, dirt & moisture caused the pre 1940 Fords headlamps to progressively get dimmer with age. The other 1940 Ford improvement was Hydraulic Brakes! Earlier Fords had Mechanical Brakes, like Bicycles still have today! The 6 Accessories that I can see on that 1939 Ford Convertible are:

  1. Extra front bumper guards.
  2. Fog Lamps.
  3. Radio.
  4. Flipper wheel covers.
  5. Rear Fender Skirts.
  6. Deluxe outside chrome trim & grill.

In chapter 2, I will elaborate about my in depth memories of my Mother's parents Pasadena home where I spent the first 6 years of my life.

Chapter 2

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