Growing Up in the Mayer Household

During World War I, Herbert Hoover held the post of National Food Administrator. He urged Americans to show their patriotism by following voluntary food rationing programs. Families were asked to observe wheatless Mondays and Wednesdays, meatless Tuesdays, and porkless Thursdays and Saturdays. This wasn't difficult for the Mayers since Augustus was well versed in living off the land and caring for animals. They patriotically raised chickens, capons, and ducks in the backyard, and also tended a vegetable garden. Later in life, Bernie's own green thumb yielded a rich backyard harvest throughout every summer.

Augustus constructed a backyard swing set with rings for the children to play on. He also had the reputation for making the best ice cream around: vanilla, fresh strawberry, and even maplenut made from maple bar sugar. He would send for a "secret ingredient" from back east which everyone believed was what made his ice cream the best.

The house's basement also had interesting items worth noting. When prohibition came along, Augustus kept a supply of several barrels of wine. When he wasn't exercising at the YMCA, the children could watch him box with his punching bag downstairs.

Harriet was not without her talents. She was known as an exemplary seamstress. However, what family members most vividly recall about her and the family was the great amount of love they all shared with each other. 

The Mayer children visited their mother's relatives who lived just a short trip away in Sacramento. Bernie spent simmering summer days cooling off in the Sacramento river and fishing with his cousins George, Melvin and Ivanell who were Myrtle and Louis Nicolaus' children. On other occasions, the Mayers would go camping, hiking and fishing in the nearby Berkeley hills.

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