|THEODORE PAUL LIGDA||Born: 1912-01-28||Died: 1997-10-20|
|Father: PAUL VICTOROVITCH LIGDA||Mother: EDITH F. LIGDA|
|Children: ALAN SCOTT LIGDA|
|Siblings: MYRON GEORGE HERBERT LIGDA, MARY BARBARA LIGDA, VICTOR WORTHINGTON LIGDA|
Ted was the third child and second son born to Paul and Edith Ligda. Shortly after his birth, his father’s business collapsed forcing his father to leave home to find work to support the family. Hence, Ted was raised primarily by his mother during his pre school years.
He was enrolled in kindergarten at 4 1/2 in August, 1916. His mother noted that he was, “very proud of himself as a schoolboy.” Ted developed well. In 1921, when he was 9, his mother observed:
“I guess Theodore is our cleverest . . . His teacher told me yesterday he did the best of 100 children of his age [in the Binet tests], and was by far the most intelligent and advanced child in her room altho the youngest.”
Ted attended the Trinity Episcopalian Church where he was confirmed in March, 1923. His mother felt Rector Thomas was a good influence for Ted and commented: “Wouldn’t it be fine if Theo should enter the ministry eventually?”
Like his older brother, Victor, Ted was an active Boy Scout. As early as 1924, he attended summer camps. Ted enjoyed scouting and remained in the program for several years, earning several merit badges. His mother mentioned, in the summer of 1927, that Ted went to Scout Camp, “as usual.”
Ted spoke fondly of his Grandmother Ligda who died on November 27, 1926, when he was 14. He was fascinated with her ability to speak in so many languages. He also got along well with his Aunt Val who taught him some elementary Russian.
Despite the normal influences of his family, the Scouts, and the Church, Ted was attracted to trouble. His mother first mentioned it in a letter of September 5, 1928:
“Ted is in trouble again; last week he rented a new Chrysler roadster to make a splurge after school for an hour or two and let a 16 yr old girl drive it. She ran into a stone porch, and damaged the machine to about the extent of $80, and the porch too. I don’t know yet what it will cost to repair the porch. Legally he or we are not liable, but Paul and I don’t feel we can let him do anything but earn the money to pay for it. He got a job today as a linotype operator 1 at 7 cents an hour, to work two nights a week for six or seven hours. I hope he can keep it till he earns the money, but he is better at getting jobs than holding them. Hasn’t much perseverance or energy.”
Ted liked the work and stayed with the job. His mother was duly impressed, writing: “Ted is certainly doing wonders and deserves due praise. It is so nice of him to be good so I can be happy here not worrying over him.”
Ted graduated from high school in 1929 during the Great Depression. He considered college, but felt the expense too great and felt he should work instead. His Grandmother Griswold sent him some money as a graduation gift. His mother was not impressed with the results:
” . . . about your gift to Ted . . . I was very much annoyed that he should waste the money you need for comfort and necessities. Ted has been working most of the time since he graduated, and has paid only $20 on his debt, spending the rest of the money for foolishness . . . It seems wrong that Ruth should be spading the garden while your money goes to give presents to lazy and husky boys like Ted . . Of course, you didn’t realize that Ted is so wasteful; if I had known that he had the money, I would have seen that it went in some sensible way . . .[he] does not seem inclined to make the financial strain any easier on [us].”
According to his sister, Barbara, Ted came to the attention of the authorities for writing worthless checks. The checks were passed so skillfully that, at first, the Police did not believe it had been done by a juvenile. Ted was held overnight in Juvenile Hall before being released to his parents. Later, according to his sister-in-law, Caroline, he compounded his problems by forging his Aunt Val’s name on a Capwell’s charge account and also by taking money from her. He was declared a Ward of the Juvenile Court. There was some concern that he would be institutionalized, but the Judge took a liking to him and allowed him to ship out as a member of a crew. Ted was 17 at the time.
Ted’s maritime career lasted until his ship reached New York. There, he jumped ship and made his way to his mother’s family home in Worthington, Ohio. He spent Thanksgiving of 1929 with his Grandmother Griswold. She reported he, “was not a bit of trouble,” the few days he was with her before going on to Cleveland to stay with his Aunt Carrie. She thought him a, “fine young man.” From Cleveland, Ted went on to Chicago where he stayed with his Uncle George Griswold. His mother visited him there in July of 1930. She observed:
“He is terribly thin and stooped. I am worried about him. I got him a hearty breakfast and gave him some money also. He wanted to come with me to Worthington, but the fare one way is $11. I stayed in Chicago 3 hours visiting him in the station and walking around the streets. He does not want to come home yet, but I think he ought to on account of his health. He says if he came without any money, that would be “another failure.” Ted thought he might come down [to Worthington] after he has had a pay day. I advised him not to but to use the money for food.”
While in Chicago, Ted attended the Greek Orthodox Church where he met Olga Brashavetz, 2 the eldest daughter in a family which had immigrated to the United States from Russia. Her parents managed what Ted described as, “not a very classy apartment building” on Cornelia Avenue. After a brief romance, Ted and Olga secretly married. After the marriage was discovered, her parents insisted on a formal church ceremony after which they provided the newlyweds an apartment. Ted and Olga lived in the apartment a short time before moving to California.
Ted and Olga made their first California home with his parents at 6165 Chabot Road. Adjustments were awkward. Ted’s marriage was the first for any of the Ligda’s children. His wife came from a family which gathered frequently to drink and socialize. Olga liked her father-in-law, Paul, who shared her Russian heritage. She felt he went out of his way to make her welcome and comfortable, but her mother-in-law, Edith, was too austere for her liking. She felt Edith looked down on her because her parents were immigrants. After Paul’s death in 1932, Olga felt more estranged and homesick for Illinois.
With the help of her sister-in-law, Barbara, Olga got work as a life guard at the Woman’s Athletic Club. She was elated to get out of the house and to earn some money. With her earnings, she and Ted were able to rent their own apartment
at 2346 Valdez Street in Oakland. 3 They developed a circle of friends which included Meryl Grinton Jones, who was to become Ted’s next wife. Olga and Ted separated in 1933. 4 Ted returned to his mother’s home on Chabot Road. In January, 1934, his sister-in-law, Caroline observed:
“Ted is out of a job and actually lazy. I never saw two brothers so different as Vic and Ted. Ted continuously raves about his girl friends. He is skinny and stays out ’til 3 or 4 in the morning and sleeps ’til 3 in the afternoon. He irritates his mother, but she says she doesn’t want to excite him. It’s bad for him.”
On June 10, 1934, Ted enlisted in the Marines. He was initially assigned to a base at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo. His military career reflects he was twice reduced in rank to Private. Nonetheless he completed his enlistment and was discharged at the expiration of his term of enlistment on June 9, 1938. He returned to live with his mother 5 and found work as a printer and linotype operator. He enjoyed the work and developed considerable skill. He eventually acquired an interest in a linotype shop, but gave it up in 1940 to go to work for the Gazette, a local newspaper.
On June 18, 1939, Ted married Meryl Grinton Jones. 6 In 1940, they rented an apartment at 2318 Leavenworth Street in San Francisco which they shared with Mildred Scott Bennett. In 1941, Mildred became pregnant with Ted’s child. Ted and Meryl moved back to Chabot Road with his mother. In November, Ted left, moved to a rooming house in Vallejo, and took work repairing submarines at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Meryl remained at Chabot Road until an interlocutory decree of divorce was granted on November 20, 1942. 7
Mildred gave birth to Ted’s only child, Alan Scott, on June 4, 1942 in San Francisco. Neither Ted nor Meryl told the family of Alan’s birth. Ted first shared the news with his brother, Herb, after swearing him to secrecy. This was probably in October of 1943 when Herb was in California between Army assignments. Herb convinced Ted to tell their sister, Barbara. Edith, his mother, did not learn of her grandson’s birth until sometime in 1944, 8 well after Ted’s marriage to Mildred 9 on December 2, 1943.
Ted was not drafted during the War as he was classified as an essential industrial worker. He worked in the defense industry at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, for Matson, and for Bethlehem Steel Company where he was trained as an instructor.
After the War, Ted and Mildred established a home on the Peninsula. Ted returned to work as a linotype operator. He is listed in 1948 as working for the Margaret Davis Co. and at Palopress in Palo Alto, a business he and his wife owned. At that time, they were living at 700 Menlo Oaks Drive in Menlo Park.
Mildred developed an interest in real estate. She began speculating in property: buying homes in need or repair, living in them while improving them, then selling at a profit. Ted helped in the repair of the houses, but had little interest in business and did not like the frequent moves which were required as the homes were sold. He felt that their differences on these ventures caused the decline in their feelings toward each other. Ted and Mildred were divorce April 22, 1954.[refMildred remained on the peninsula and continued investing in real estate making a good living. She became well known in the 1960’s as a leader in the fight to prevent Pacific Gas & Electric Company from extensive construction of overhead power poles. She never remarried. She died of cancer in Los Altos on August 15, 1973. She left 10 acres of land to her son, Alan Ligda, who was also the beneficiary of a $25,000 life insurance policy.[/ref]
Ted remained in Los Altos after his divorce and returned to his work as a linotype operator. In 1953, he and his sister-in-law, Dorothy, helped his mother bring the Griswold Lineage up-to-date. Ted printed 200 copies. He was still living on the peninsula when his brother, Victor, died in 1955.
In 1956, Ted married Mary Ann Woody 10 who he met at a party years earlier. From 1957 to 1960, they lived at 1662 Laurel Street in San Carlos. They later moved to a house on Easy Street in Mt. View. The directories list Ted as a publisher in 1958, 1959, and 1960. By 1963, Ted owned his own typesetting service in Redwood City. He and Mary Ann moved to a home they rented in Palo Alto. Mary Ann inherited a good deal of money from her mother with which she bought a villa on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. She and Ted moved there about 1965. He was living there in 1967 when his younger brother, Herb, died. About that time Mary Ann left Mexico, but Ted remained for some time. In 1968, he hosted his niece, Carol Ligda, who stayed with him a year while attending school in Merida. He later returned to the Bay Area and resumed work as a linotype operator. 11 He did not resume living with Mary Ann. 12 For a period, as a relaxation, he played the french horn at a club near Bush and Powell Streets in San Francisco.
In 1974, Ted was the owner and operator of A & P Typesetters at 1526 Stafford Avenue in Redwood City. Ted was spending the weekend with his mother at her home on Haste Street in Berkeley when she died on April 28, 1974. He was left a bequest of $2,226. Family members felt the relatively small bequest reflected Edith’s distaste for her son’s lifestyle.
In 1983, Ted sold his remaining typesetting equipment and returned to Mexico. He maintained limited contact with the family, primarily with his sister, Barbara, and his sister-in-law, Evelyn. He rarely contacted his son, Alan, who last heard from him in 1996. Ted’s was living at Petan 435 Colo Narvarte, Mexico, D. F., a home he shared with his mistress, Enriqueta Faubert, when he died October 20, 1997. His body was cremated the next day.
- This was the occupation he was to keep the rest of his working life. ↩
- Olga was born June 13, 1913. She was 17 when she met Ted who was 18. According to Olga, Ted told her he came from a very wealthy family which owned a mansion in Oakland (the rented house on Chabot Road); and that his father was a professor at the University. ↩
- Ted and Olga are listed at that address in the 1933 City Directory. Ted’s occupation is listed as a salesman. ↩
- Olga remained in the Bay Area for a while. She was listed in the 1934 City Directory as an Assistant Instructor at the Woman’s Athletic Club living at 32 Moss Avenue in Oakland. She was still living in San Francisco in 1937, but she eventually divorced Ted and returned to Chicago where she later remarried Carl Rhodehamel. Carl died in 1942. Olga died in June, 1980 ↩
- He is listed at the Chabot Road address in the 1935, 1937, and 1938 City Directories. ↩
- Meryl was born November 22, 1916. She was 22 at the time of the marriage. According to Ted’s sister-in-law, Caroline, she came from a background in which she had been catered to by others. While the couple lived on Chabot Road, Meryl expected Edith, her mother-in-law, to cater to her. They did not get along. ↩
- There are references to Meryl in several of Edith Ligda’s letters. Those references indicate Meryl was in some way connected with the theater. She was said to have left Chabot Road in 1942 for New York where she had a job with the Metropolitan Opera. In November, 1943 when the divorce from Ted was final, she was reported to be in Hollywood working as a, “concert manager or something of the sort.” ↩
- We do not know how Edith learned of Alan’s birth. Possibly, Mildred told her. Upon her discovery, she wrote Herb (who was then in Panama) to convince Ted to tell her directly. On January 21, 1945, she wrote Herb to tell him Ted had phoned and, “talked about his child.” ↩
- Mildred was born on a farm in Linn County, Kansas, the only child of William Grant Scott and Clara Ethel Sommers. She was never certain of her birth date. She used March 28, 1910, but that was inaccurate. Her son, Alan, has a postcard she wrote in 1912 which convinced him her correct date of birth was March 28, 1906. She had previously been married to Leslie Bennett, a British concert pianist, who died in Oakland on September 24, 1940. ↩
- Mary Ann was born August 12, 1915. ↩
- Ted was an exceptionally talented typographer. His views and opinions were sought by coworkers, printers, and book designers. He set quite a few books for Hoover Institution Press and is mentioned in the forewords of Martin Anderson’s “Welfare/The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States,” [Stanford, California, 1978] and his “Conscription/A Select and Annotated Bibliography,” [Stanford, California, 1976]. ↩
- Ted did escort Mary Ann to the memorial services after his mother’s death in 1974. At the time, she was living in a hotel. Mary Ann died June 4, 1993. She was then listed as living in Apartment 325 at 1569 Jackson Street in Oakland. ↩