Robert Gertsch was born in 1946. His grandfather and two brothers had settled in Garden Home in the 1890s and developed the early Shattuck Dairy. Robert started Garden Home School in the fourth grade in 1960 and graduated from Beaverton High in 1964. Robert is from the Fritz Gertsch side of the family.
The first Gertsch brothers, Peter, Christian and Fritz came over from Switzerland in the 1890s and Peter settled on the west side of Oleson Road north of Garden Home. Peter married Katy Tannler in 1894 and then unexpectedly died just six weeks after the birth of his first baby, whom they had named Pete to differentiate him from the father. Then according to Swiss custom, the next older boy, Christian, was sent for and he married Katy and they had two more sons, Albert and Christian in addition to Pete. This Pete married Rosalie Balmer and from this marriage, Shirley Gertsch Bartels was born. (See her story) Christian continued working with the Shattuck Dairy that Peter had started. It was located on the current Arranmore development including property north to Vermont Street. Fritz also worked with the Shattuck Dairy after he had earned enough money to purchase property on the east side of Oleson Road in the same area. Read more: Shirley Gertsch Bartels on Peter and Pete Gertsch.
The three brothers, Peter Gertsch 1867-1895, Christian Gertsch 1868-1949 and Fritz Gertsch Sr. 1881- 1954 are all buried at Greenwood Cemetery. Fritz Jr., Robert’s father, was born in 1910 and served in the Army in WWII. He died unexpectedly in 1988 as had his father, Fritz Sr. in 1954.
The third brother Fritz, usually called Fred here in America, came from Switzerland in 1898 and achieved citizenship in 1905. He worked very hard for a dairy east on Vermont, possibly the large Hoffman Balmer dairy. After working to develop some savings, Fritz purchased property across Oleson from Christian’s property and began working with Christian at the Shattuck Dairy. This Fritz, Sr. married Rosa Nuelerhoser, thought to be from Switzerland, and had a son Fritz, Jr. who married Olive Philena Wolfe.
Robert and Peter Albert Gertsch were born to Fritz Jr. and Olive Philena Wolfe. This Olive Philena Wolfe was born to Edna Oleson, a daughter of Ole Oleson who owned many acres in this area of Garden Home. Ole and his wife Polly Philena Patton had eight children, one son and seven daughters. Robert remembers his father as a great story-teller, usually with himself as the central figure, embellishing the stories from time to time. Read more: Oleson families.
The Shattuck Dairy property remained in Pete Gertsch’s name. Many other dairies in the area included the Hunziker Dairy and Alpenrose Dairy. The Shattuck Dairy had regular routes for every other day deliveries. They stopped the home delivery service in 1950. After that, Fred Gertsch Jr. then worked for Darigold, going out on the route to pick up 10 gallon cans of milk. Some farmers had cream separators to fill 5 gallon cans. Most of the dairies ceased operation after “the Columbus Day storm” about 1962. Fritz Jr. continued work with the Wilhelm Trucking Company. Read more: Early Dairies by Pete Gertsch.
The Gertsch family members are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in the South Burlingame area, off of Boones Ferry Road, near Palatine Hill Road. Most of the Oleson’s are buried at the Crescent Grove Cemetery on Greenburg Road, south of Garden Home. The Wolfe family members are buried at the Patton Cemetery, a small historic cemetery across Scholls Ferry Road from the Portland Golf Club.
Aunt Olive Oleson was a “no-nonsense” head nurse and along with her sister Lillian was a graduate of the Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing. They both served in WWI in Europe. Robert Gertsch served in the Army and his brother Peter Albert Gertsch served in the Air Force. Read more: Olive Philena Oleson and Lillian Oleson Harris Ruhl.
Robert had wanted to be a machinist and had training to be a welder. He also worked at an auto parts warehouse and as a welder building rail cars. Jobs were hard to get and he finally took the Post Office test. He worked 28 years at the main P.O. on Broadway, near the train station, retiring in 2011.
Grandfather Fritz Sr. had barrels in his basement where he made hard cider, wine and possibly other alcohol drinks during Prohibition. “He liked to have a little nip now and then.” Fritz St. was always able to get good quality whiskey during this period. Robert’s mother, Olive Philena, used to say “Bing Crosby music is not allowed” because Bing had been arrested for some alcohol possession and she thought he was a bad influence on children.
Robert got a lecture from Mr. Thurman, Garden Home School Principal, for fighting. The next year, in 6th grade, he splashed mud over a girl’s dress and had another talk with Mr. Thurman. He was to pay the girl’s family $10 to clean her dress but the family wasn’t concerned and simply washed the dress.
Other memories (please correct our spelling) in the Garden Home area include:
George Olus and Howard Lakanen, schoolmate of Olive Philena, ran the service station in Garden Home in the 1980s, located at the current station lot.
Lynch’s market in Hillsdale was used for grocery shopping.
Robert and friend Lyle Tate were scolded for bouncing a basketball in the ice cream parlor in Garden Mall. Irv Huppin had the pharmacy in that same mall beside the Lamb’s Thriftway.
The Benoits had three sons: Gordon, Stanley and Douglas. After an infraction on the basketball court, one of the boys pulled a pistol out of his jacket.
Harry Namitz did TV repair.
A big Swedish Model Home was a community attraction in the 1950s, located off of Peyton Road, off of Oleson.