Jost Biographies:

Elwood & Dorothy Jost

Elwood Jost, my father, began working when still young. He was working for Elwood JostGilmore Oil Company when the day came to register for his next year of high school classes -- he had to work that day, so couldn’t make it to registration. A few weeks later, after he had been attending classes for some time, the prinicpal of the school told him he wouldn’t receive credit for the classes he was taking because he hadn’t registered. Daddy walked out of the school and never returned. He was needed to support the family after that. He worked as a distributor for Gilmore when they became Mobil Oil Company and worked for Mobil in the same capacity until his retirement. He was well-known and respected in the community, and a recognizable figure as he drove around town in his red pick-up -- his pick-ups were always red! I was proud to be able to be his daughter, and enjoyed hearing people say, "Oh, you’re E.B. Jost’s daughter!"

In addition to his work, Daddy was involved in the Lions’ Club, and served on the volunteer fire department for years.

Before retirement Daddy bought a small mountain cabin in the San Jacinto mountains above Banning. There he took the leadership of the association of property owners, and again earned the trust and respect of those he served and those who depended on him.

Dorothy Page JostMy mother, Dorothy Page, attended the University of Redlands after graduating from Banning High School. For years before, and years after their marriage she worked in the church, doing whatever was needed. But her area of specialty was teaching children. In her junior church class, she made it a practice to teach through the Bible once every three years. Many children came to the Lord under her teaching, and many have returned to pay her tribute for her influence in their lives.

In the 1970’s the local Christian school offered her a job teaching fourth grade--they had heard of her reputation as a Junior Church teacher. She was hesitant, not being an accredited teacher, but took the job on their urging. While teaching she became accredited, and again, she proved to be a major influence in many children’s lives, earning their love and deep respect. Again, I enjoyed the backwash of her reputation--I was offered a teaching job in the same school, largely because of being "Dorothy Jost’s daughter."

Daddy and Mother died in 1992--Mother in March, of pancreatic cancer, and Daddy on the fourth of July, of a condition the doctors call "failure to thrive". In other words, he pined away after Mother’s death. His death on the fourth of July reminded me of the numerous times he worked setting off the firework display in Banning, as part of the volunteer fire department.

One thing I have learned from my parents is the truth of Proverbs 22:1 "A good name is more to be desired than great riches." And I have worked in my own life to live up to their reputations, and to earn a good name of my own to pass on to my children.


In September 1986, Mother and Daddy and my brother and his wife were at our home. As we finished dinner, Randy brought out a small tape recorder, hid it, and began taping so we could record some memories:

Polli: Daddy, tell about the time you hid the alarm clocks in Hal’s Drug Store!Gilmore Oil Distributorship

Dorothy: She wants you to tell what an angel you were when you were young and foolish!

Elwood: Aw, the fire department used to go down to Hal Devoist’s pharmacy, he had an ice cream fountain there that was about 50 feet long, and had kind of a curve. The firemen went in there, 12 or 14 of us. As soon as we’d get done with a meeting, why we’d head for Hal’s and we’d all get ice cream, see?

Polli: This was just downstairs from the Jost Hotel.

Elwood: And up in the front he had a bunch of alarm clocks, these Big Ben alarm clocks, there must have been 150 alarm clocks in this stack--had ‘em all stacked up in boxes, and they had them on a sale price. So somebody got the wise idea. . . .

Randy: I want to know whose wise idea it was? Which Jost it was?

Elwood: Hal DeVoist wasn’t there that night, Carl Lovelace was there. So we got ahold of Carl Lovelace and made a deal with him, if he’d keep his mouth shut we’d have some fun. So we said, who’s going to open? He said, Hal opens in the morning. And I said, what time does he open up? And he said, seven or seven-thirty or something. So we all got up there and took these out of the boxes, and we wound them all and we’d set ‘em, starting at seven o’clock or at seven-thirty, every five minutes we had these alarm clocks set. And we put ‘em back in the boxes and planted ‘em all over the store, clear back into the medicines and stuff--wherever they had stuff, they’d put ‘em clear in the back end. So anyhow, that morning he got there to go to work, and he’d no more than opened the door up and the darn telephone started ringing. So he made a run for the telephone, and he, hello, hello, hello--nobody answered, you know? That was kind of funny, so he set it down, and about that time the darn phone rang again. So he grabbed it again. Nobody was there, see? So about that Mobilgas Planttime, why, he began to think, well that doesn’t sound like the darn telephone. So he said, I’ll fix it! So he left the receiver off. And it would ring again, see, then he knew he was fixed! And then he looked up front and all the alarm clocks were gone! All day long that day those alarm clocks were going off every five minutes! But he told us afterward, you know, that was the best sales idea I ever had. He said, I sold everything I had in the store; people had to come in to hear about it! He never found all of ‘em, ‘cause after a while they’d run down, you know. So two years later they were renovating, putting new shelving in, and here they’d run into a lot of these alarm clocks that were stashed all over the darn place.

Randy: How many years were you with the fire department?

Elwood: Oh, boy, I don’t remember, it must have been 25 years or more.

Randy: Did you ever have any close calls, anything dangerous?

Lance: Didn’t you burn your lungs once?

Elwood: I still have problems with that. It was at Weiffel’s Mortuary, in the--oh, where they put the stiffs when they freeze them--the embalming room. Years ago their refrigeration was all sulphur. When the fire burnt through and broke those tubes, why we got sulphur burns, and I got my lungs burned with sulphur. I had to go to the doctor, went to Dr. Reeves, and I was in awful shape. I couldn’t breathe, my lungs were burnt. He said he was giving me enough penicillin to kill a horse. And every time now if I get a cold, I’ve got to run down and get a shot of penicillin right quick or it goes right down in my bronchial tubes.

Dorothy: Of course, it was a volunteer fire department. The firemen worked in various places, and had an understanding with their bosses that whenever there was a fire they were supposed to go. So when we were first married that was one of the fun things we did, we’d get together for dinners and things like that. And they had Elwoodquite a thing chivareeing any new bride and groom. And when we were married we knew it was coming! So, sure enough, one night here they came, took us by surprise one evening, and, "Come on, it’s your turn to have your chivaree!" So they came with the fire engine, and had us both sitting up on the seat of the fire engine, drove through town, tooting the horn, ringing the bell. So they got down there--you know where the old theater in town is, on Ramsey Street, and it was right about the time that the first show was letting out, about nine o’clock. And they had us get out and walk up and down the street across from the theater where the people were getting out, and they made Daddy wheel a baby buggy. . . .

Elwood: They had a ball and chain on my leg, and I had to carry that ball with one hand and wheel the baby buggy with the other.

Dorothy: . . . Then they took us up to our house--they had to have refreshments! And they had gone to town and they had bought cake and ice cream to feed those big old hungry lugs. And they would eat ice cream and then drink hot water, and then eat more ice cream and drink hot water so they could eat more ice cream. And then they gave us the bill for all that ice cream and cake! Could you imagine, $7.50 for all that ice cream and cake, and we had to pay for it!

Elwood: In those days, a quart of ice cream only cost about 15 cents. The kitchen sink was stacked, tiered up with quarts of ice cream!

Randy: How many were there?

Elwood: About 16 men and their wives.

Randy: So it cost you $7.50? What year was that?

Dorothy: 1932. Our grocery bill ran $15 a month! The other thing we had to remember was, we wives found out, that if we heard the siren in the middle of the night, and if we’d hurry and get our clothes on real fast and get in the car we could go along and see the excitement. So this one night I hurried and got my clothes on, about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, got out in the car so I could go along. And we could see down southeast of town there was a great flare, so there was no need to go by the fire barn to find out where the fire was or anything, we knew right where it was, so we headed for it. Got down there, and all the firemen were there, and not a one of them had stopped for the fire engine. The first one to the fire engine would always drive it to the with Daddy's truck, 1956

: Weren’t there antiques and things in the bar?

Elwood: Charles Farrell, the movie actor, owned a building down there, and he had things stored--a tally-ho, old stagecoaches, and a calliope, and all of it burned up.

Randy: Did anybody finally go back and get the truck?

Elwood: Yeah, but it didn’t do any good. In the first place, we didn’t even have a pumper on the truck, all we had was a hose. And they didn’t even have a fire hydrant down there in that part of town. We had two soda and acid tanks on there, we had about 30 gallons of soda and acid, and with a fire that big, it wouldn’t have done any good even if we had had it--even if we had water it wouldn’t have done any good. So they had a big piece in the paper about it--the firemen made it, they saved the ground, but lost the buildings! Well, Farrell had it insured, don’t worry about that. A week or two later he bought steaks for us.

Lance: A bunch of burnt-to-a-crisp steaks! Thanks for your good work!

Elwood: When I first went to work with them, we worked for nothin’, just to be a fireman. And then years later, the city finally voted us a dollar a fire. Later, Tuffy Stuart, Harry Mitchell and myself, we went around and talked to all the city councilmen, and they agreed to give us a raise to a dollar and a half a fire. And the next year we went back and told them we wanted more than that, because we’d lose more than that in clothes! So they finally decided they’d give us a dollar and a half to start, and a dollar an hour as long as we were at the fire. So we’d save all our money for vacation. One year we saved it all year and we had a hundred dollars for vacation!

George Barker told me that not only did Banning’s volunteer fire department fight fires, they were also the community’s "walking blood bank" until a regular one was established.

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The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds!
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth!
Psalm 145:17&18 (NASB)