TRUCKEE, Calif. — Before the birth of his 12th child or his glass shop in Grass Valley, before his episode on “It Could be You” in Los Angeles, Bill Moule and his family spent three and a half years in a concentration camp overseas.
In December of 1941, the California native, his two children, and his pregnant wife were living in the Philippines.
At the outbreak of World War I, the small family sought refuge in the mountains only to be struck by malaria and eventually captured by the Japanese.
“Marg and I,” wrote Bill in his 1960 memoir “God’s Arms Around Us,” “brought three little kids through an ordeal that most single men couldn’t survive.”
SURVIVE AND THRIVE
Upon returning safely to the U.S., Bill opened a glass and paint shop with his thriving family. The challenges he’d faced overseas prepared him for running a thriving business.
Bill’s fifth son Ben looked up to his father, and like the brothers before and after him, followed in his father’s footsteps. All nine boys went into the glass business with Bill.
“He found out how to make a dollar work for him rather than work for a dollar,” Ben said of his father.
Just like Ben, who worked side-by-side with his father, nowadays owns and operates Truckee River Glass with his son Jake. Hanging in the glass shop is an old black and white photo of Bill and his nine boys out front of glass shop in Grass Valley.
Truckee River Glass, once located on Donner Pass Road in downtown Truckee, recently moved to Pioneer Trail, also in Truckee.
The shop specializes in customer shower doors and mirrors, commercial storefronts and restoring and replacing windows.
Although the space is smaller, Ben says it’s nice to be away from the noise of the train and the constant passing of trucks.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Ben’s father’s story is heroic and inspiring. Ben says he learned a lot of his business sense from Bill.
“It makes you realize your life wasn’t that bad when you look back at what your parents went through,” Ben said.
Ben remembers growing up in and around his own father’s shop, and never wanting to be put to work.
“You played every sport you could so you didn’t have to work so much,” Ben said. Ben’s father preferred that his sons were self-taught. He was known for leaving his sons with a project until they could come up with the solution on their own.
“He’d say, ‘Well figure it out,’” Ben recalls. “You’d get so mad but eventually you would figure it out.”
Ben said he learned a lot from his father. And Ben admits he learns a lot from his son. Jake’s addition to the business has allowed Ben to spent more time fabricating glass, leaving the business side to his Jake.
“We know our specialties and we stick to them,” Jake said.
TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING
Ben talks about the days when jobs were done over the phone “without even a handshake,” and said he’s glad his son has helped the business grow and change with the times.
“Jake brought us into the computer age, the 21st century,” Ben said with a laugh. “You have to be there now — it’s totally different.”
Jacob, Jake’s son, frequents the shop a few times a week. The 8-year-old has a special seat and finds tasks to help out his father and grandfather.
“He grew up here, since he was a baby,” said Ben’s wife Sue. “He’s not afraid of glass.”
Jake hopes Jacob will work alongside him one day, the way he has worked alongside his father.
Family business is something the Moules know well. Sue and her eldest daughter Julie Huck own Gratitudes Gifts and Home Décor, a successful shop in downtown Truckee.
“It makes you realize your life wasn’t that bad when you look back at what your parents went through.”