Luvenia Frances Bloss Pace
I was born January 22, 1917 in Chattanooga,
Tennessee to Eva (Burk) and Thomas J. Bloss.
We lived at 1908 McCallie Avenue.
My brother, Alba, was 10 years old, his birthday was January 11,
sister, Cathern, would be 20 years old, being born on October 2, 1917. My
sister told me many times that my brother said “I was not just an
a calamity”. She also told me that if
she had not made me baby clothes, there wouldn’t have been anything to
me. She was still in high school - she
graduated that year, and also married after graduation.
She said she had to push me in a baby buggy
while she did her homework. When I
would cry, she said mother would call out “Push the baby!”
One of Cathern’s daughters once told me that
Dick (Green), her husband to be, did her homework for her.
Somehow, with all this negative beginning I
heard about, I never felt unloved.
Perhaps this was just my sister’s idea of a joke and so I never
was married and her husband Dick (Herman Curtis Green) went off to war. While he was away, their first daughter was
born. They lived with us until he
returned. He was a supply officer and
stayed away longer than some soldiers.
was an engineer. He listed himself on
my birth certificate as a Mechanical Engineer.
In those days, an engineer did all kinds of engineering. He did surveys, electrical,
plumbing and heating, construction,
etc. He had worked for insurance
companies as an inspector for elevators, industrial plants, furnaces,
etc. His letterhead read:
The Hartford Boiler Inspector and
710 Cherry Street
T. J. Bloss, Inspector
was living at my grandmother’s hotel, the Burk Hotel, in Chattanooga
met my mother. After they were married,
they lived in several places. They
lived in Memphis, Tennessee, when there was an epidemic, I think of
cholera. My mother and sister went to live
with his parents, while my father stayed and worked.
They lived in Boaz and Florence, Alabama.
In one of
those places, I think it was Boaz, father bought a car.
It was shipped to him in boxes and he put it
together. I guess it was like the
labels today on some Christmas toys - minimum construction required. It was the only car in town and when they
went to church, it scared the horses.
The church people got up a petition to keep him from driving it
church. He didn’t keep it too long
after that. He sold it and he never
again drove a car.
I may have
been about 2 years old when we moved to So. Pittsburg (abt-1919) , so I
remember living in our Chattanooga home.
I saw the house many times. It
was red brick and built very much like our house in So. Pittsburg. There was a wall about 4 feet high at the
sidewalk and front yard. My sister,
Cathern, said Alba used to ride his
tricycle in the yard and fall over the wall onto the sidewalk. Alba had a small bump on each side of his
upper forehead. Sister said those were
bumps from him falling over the wall so many times.
had her first child, Eva, while her husband was overseas in World War I. They lived with us until Dick returned from
war. Then they moved to Birmingham,
Alabama. I don’t remember any of that -
Eva is 18 months younger than I am. Cathern eventually had four
children. I never liked for her to come
home for a
visit. My toys appealed to her children
and when they were ready to go home they wanted to keep my toys, Mother
say “Take them, Luvenia doesn’t mind”.
I did mind, but I never said anything.
to So. Pittsburg, Tennessee when my father took a job at the Dixie
Cement Co. in Richard City, Tennessee. We lived in a rented house while
father built our home. The house was
built of concrete blocks. The roof had
steel bolts that went all the way to the concrete foundation. The roof was slate, which was replaced by
the present owners in the ‘70’s.
Chattanooga home was torn down for a parking lot, they had to bring in
heavy equipment to knock it down. One
with one of those heavy balls that they swing against walls to knock
and then big bulldozers.
Pittsburg home was rectangular in shape with a living room, dining
breakfast room and kitchen on one side.
A front porch all across the house and three bedrooms and bath
other side. There was one long closet
in the long hall. One time one of
Alba’s cats somehow got in there and had kittens. There
was another hall closet that had a clothes drop for dirty
clothes to fall to the basement to a wooden shelf.
There was a rack there where my clothes hung.
I slept for the most part in the back
bedroom where my parents slept. When my
brother left home, when I was 10, my parents moved into his room and I
left home, he went to work for the National Cash Register Co. in
Ohio. He went to their training school
and learned to repair and maintain the
cash registers that they sold.
Mr. A. H.
Campbell, one of the executives of NCR, was a friend of Daddy’s. Before Daddy married my mother, he and Mr.
Campbell were both living at my Grandmother’s hotel.
He got scarlet fever and Daddy took care of him.
Everyone else was afraid to get near. Mr.
Campbell was always so grateful for what
Daddy did for him. They always kept in
touch and that’s how Alba got to go to work at NCR.
finished his training, they sent him to Texas to work.
He had been dating Virginia Stutz Kehr in
Dayton, Ohio and I guess he missed her, so he just quit in Texas,
notice, and came back to Tennessee. I
remember Mother was hanging up clothes and she heard a horn blow. She said, “if I didn’t know Alba was in
Texas, I’d say that was Alba.” It was
Alba. Alba had an air horn on his car
that made a bugle sound.
Daddy and me to Dayton, Ohio in 1926 when I was 9 years old. My grandmother, Mary Catherine (Bell) Bloss
died June 3 of that year in Dayton. We
must have gone up a few weeks before she died, because I remember
several weeks of school at that time. I
had to take a make up test for what I had missed. That
was a big worry for me.
in Dayton at my grandmother’s with my father’s sisters, Luvenia and
and when we where there we also visited the Campbell’s.
They had a large beautiful brick home. On
that trip we ate at the Miamisburg Mill
Restaurant and bought bread at a bakery Daddy had patronized when he
there. Thomas J. Bloss was born in Springboro, OH, a few miles from
Miamisburg. We also visited the
opened Cincinnati Union Terminal.
an earlier visit to Dayton when I was five.
My Aunt Luvenia Bloss let me help her make a cherry pie. She told everyone I made it.
That is my earliest memory of cooking.
think there was a close relationship between my father’s parents and my
mother. Mother was a southern girl and
it was too soon after the civil war for the scars to be healed. My father’s uncle, also named Thomas
Jefferson Bloss, fought with the Ohio 35th and was killed in
Battle of Chickamauga.
grandfather, R. Harrison Bloss, died in 1910.
My Aunts, Etta and Luvenia Bloss never married.
They always lived at home and took care of
their mother. Aunt Etta worked for
Frigidair as I recall.
Aunt Luvenia stayed at home and was the
homemaker. My father helped them
We had hot
water heat in our home in So. Pittsburg and there was a coal room next
furnace in the basement. The coal was
put through a chute in the side wall by the drive way.
remember we had an ice box that was on the landing of the basement
steps. The basement’s outside door was at
landing. The ice man could deliver the ice without coming into the main
house. When we wanted ice we had a
that we put in the front bedroom window.
You would point the arrow to the number of pounds you wanted
We had a
kerosene (coal oil) stove in the kitchen that we used in the summer. There was an oven that sat over two of the
burners for baking. We had a wood stove
that we cooked on in the winter. There
was a wood box built in under the kitchen windows.
It was my window seat.
got our electric refrigerator, a GE with the cooling unit on top, it
was put in
the hall at the top of the basement steps.
We had a
garage that was separated from the house.
There was an excavation in the floor, covered with a board door. When our car needed work under it, the door
was removed and my father or brother or both could get under the car to
work. I don’t know when we first had a
car because my brother was the only one that could drive.
My brother taught me to drive some time
before he left home to work for NCR in Dayton, Ohio.
We had a pick up truck to deliver items from our hardware
store. My brother let me drive while he
took cat naps after being out late the night before.
I was so short that when I put on the brakes, I almost
disappeared under the steering wheel.
Remember, in those days, there weren’t many cars, the roads were
very good, and cars didn’t go very fast.
There were no driver’s licenses.
If you could drive, you drove.
Many of my friends parents didn’t have cars.
started to teach Mother to drive before he left, and Alba’s friend
Patton continued teaching her after he was gone.
remember very much about my grandmother Nancy (Bradley) Burk. Two years before she died she lived part of
the year with us and part with Aunt Birda (Burk) Dayton in Chattanooga. I remember once I unscrewed the valve on the
hot water heater register in her bedroom (the front bedroom) and the
was pouring out. She stopped the water
with her hand while I ran to the kitchen and got a pan to catch the
she put the screw back on.
Nancy Burk, died May 1, 1922.
I was five years old. Grandmother
was at Aunt Birda’s in
Chattanooga when she became ill. I
think she had a stroke. She told Aunt
Birda she wanted to see me. Aunt Birda
called Mother and asked her to bring me up.
I was attending Mrs. Braggs’ Pre-School and Mother waited till
weekend to take me. Before we got there
grandmother was in a coma and she did not recover.
I remember her room was rather dark and her lips were very
parched and someone would take a piece of cotton and wet her lips. I was scared because I didn’t understand.
died, there was a service in Chattanooga and then the people and the
went by train to the cemetery. The
cemetery (Hoge #2) is on a farm out (South) from Jasper, Tennessee,
husband is buried too.
from the train over to the cemetery.
The cemetery’s name is Hoge’s. I
don’t know how everyone got home from there.
Years later my friends’ father, Mr. Barker, told me he was the
master that made the arrangements for the train to stop.
There is no station there.
was on four lots. We had a big garden
on one lot. Mother did a lot of
canning. There was a “dark room” in the
basement where there were shelves on the walls for the jars and bins
where potatoes were stored.
We had a
pecan tree, an English Walnut tree and a fig tree.
As I remember the fig tree, it was more like a bush. A ripe fig off the tree was really
delicious. As I have found with other
fruits - fresh picked when ripe -taste better than anything you can buy
had a big apple tree. I liked to climb
trees and I had a favorite perch in the apple tree.
We had “pie” cherry trees, peaches, plums and apricot trees, and
a long grape arbor with several kinds of grapes. Mother also raised
chicken house mother had was not so big.
Then that was torn down and Daddy built a much larger chicken
house. It had an entrance like a
hallway and chickens on either side.
Outside the chicken yard had a dividing fence, so that she could
separate the chickens whenever she wanted.
There were nesting compartments on shelves.
It was nice. Years later,
when Mother decided not to raise chickens.
Daddy had the chicken house moved to our lower lot, made some
improvements, and sold it for a home.
It’s still there, I doubt if the people living in it now know it
once a chicken house.
raising chickens, mother had an incubator in the basement where we
little chicks from eggs. The eggs have
to be turned - I believe it was every day.
I did that many times. When they
began to hatch, you could watch them pick their way out.
Occasionally one would be too weak to get
out. You could help them, but they
would usually die. They would stay in
the incubator awhile then they would be put with a mother hen who had
hatched chickens. Many times Mother
raised turkeys for Thanksgiving. They
were harder to raise.
To kill a
chicken, Mother would wring its neck.
Sometimes she would chop its head off with an ax.
The chicken would flop around on the ground
for a bit. When that was over, they
were stuck in a pan of hot water. Then
the feathers were plucked and the fine pin feathers were singed with a
newspaper. Then they were cut into
pieces and put in salted water or plain water and refrigerated till
remember my father working at the cement plant. He
must not have worked there long. They had
asked him to work on Sunday. Sunday was
God’s day and you didn’t work for pay on that day, so
a hardware store in So. Pittsburg. It
was between a Picture Show and a coal delivery company.
I had permission from the show owner to go
in free anytime I wanted to. I didn’t
go very often. Before talkies came in,
the action was more animated and the words the actor’s were supposed to
were printed at the bottom of the picture.
I didn’t even go much after the talkies came in.
was in High School, he ran the movie projector for the theater. Film was not as good in those days and would
sometimes break or tangled. When
something went wrong, the show patrons would whistle, loudly, till it
Mrs. Fair went to Chattanooga to see the first talking show. They were so excited about it.
It was “The Jazz Singer”. Tom Mix
was the cowboy movie guy then. I went to
see him when his movies came. I met him
several times. He and his friend “Cappy”
Holden had been
sheriffs around South Pittsburg and Richard City. That
was before my time, I guess. But when he
was in the area, he would visit “Cappy” and usually
visited our school.
Holden’s mother was my Sunday School teacher.
The only name I ever heard her called was “Mammy” Holden. She was a dear. I have a cut glass toothpick
holder she gave me.
(Methodist) was one room - the sanctuary.
Our class was on a pew at the side of the pulpit.
Other classes were in different areas. The
adults were in the very back pews. One
thing I always remember - there was a
youth choir. I was about 10 years old and
I went to the youth choir. On one of our
practice days, I was asked not
to sing because I was ruining the music.
That really hurt me. I always
wished I could sing a beautiful song and go back and show them they
sorry they didn’t let me sing. Needless
to say, I didn’t go back to choir practice, nor did I learn to sing a
would do her work at home in the mornings and then go to the hardware
take Daddy’s lunch to him and stay till closing time.
I guess that is why I went to Mrs. Bragg’s Pre-School. On Saturday’s, I too went to the hardware
other side of the coal company was a photographers place.
He and his family also lived there. The
wife’s name was Flossie. They had a son,
Charles D. that was just a
little younger than I. I would play
with him on Saturday and any other time I was at the store. There was a yard behind our store and behind
where he lived, so we had a yard. There
was a second floor on our hardware store, we could also play up there.
was heated with a pot belly stove. A
bench was behind the stove and many winter nights I slept on that bench
time to close. Then I would have to
wake up and walk nine blocks home.
area was just a raised platform near the stove. There
was a four or five foot solid railing around most of
it. One time when Mother went down to
the hardware store, she found my father had been robbed.
The safe was open and daddy was laying
unconscious on the floor.
Alba built a one room house in our side yard.
It was to be my playhouse. It
didn’t get to be my playhouse till Alba left home when I was 10. Until then he used it for his bunk house.
girlfriend that had lived in Richard City moved to Chattanooga. He continued to see her. When
he would go to see her, he would take
Jodie (Osborne) with him. He would take
Jodie to his girlfriend’s and when Alba was ready to come home, he’d go
Jodie up. For that day and time it was
unusual because Jodie was black. Jodie
would spend the night with Alba in the bunk house when they got home
late. Jodie was younger than Alba. He worked for Mother - mostly in the
garden. I think I always knew
Jodie. He would do anything for Alba,
and he thought a lot of my Mother and Father.
They were good to him. The black
druggist in town wanted to send Jodie to Medical School.
I think he did go to Medical School one
year. He turned out to be a fine
man. He married, had several
children. One of them did become a
doctor. He lived all his life in So.
Pittsburg. He never did go to visit
Alba after Alba moved away and married, but he would have been welcomed. They did keep in touch and remained friends.
in church, so many of the old songs we sing make me think of Mother. When she washed, she hung the clothes
outside on a clothesline in nice weather and she would sing hymns.
if anyone reading this would know what a “cold frame” is.
We had one near the playhouse. To
make one, you dug a deep hole as long and
wide as you wanted, then made a wooden frame around the edges and
with a pane of glass. It was used to
plant seeds early in the spring. You
filled your hole with compost and manure almost to ground level, then
your seeds. On warm days the lid was up
- nights and cold days the lid was down.
That’s how you got an early garden.
Jodie would help with
transplanting the plants and weeding.
My job was picking potato bugs off potato plants.
I got paid by the count. It took a
lot to make a quarter.
You had to
be six years old to start public school.
Since my birthday was in January, I was almost seven when I
started. That was the last year
children attended the old school. The
old school consisted of two frame buildings - a two story building and
separate one story building. I think my
class was in the separate building. The
next year we moved to a big two story brick building on the hill on the
side of town. There were classrooms for
the elementary students and a large study hall for the high school
which also served as the gym and basketball court.
The high school classrooms surrounded the study hall.
to trick me - for example, he would go to the trouble of
setting our grandfather clock ahead one
hour, then tell me I was late to school.
I’d rush out, sometimes without breakfast, then he’d have to run
clock hands all the way around to get the correct time.
It had to chime all the hours and half hours
as he turned it.
had a separate school. It was on a hill
on the east side of town. Theirs was a
red brick building like ours.
our school had one school bus. It
brought children from Orme, which was a coal mining area several miles
to and from school and walked home for lunch.
Alba rode his bicycle, but he wouldn’t ride me.
I would start out by the back door, cross
the alley to Crisp’s and usually wait for Roberta and Miriam to walk
me. Seems to me it was eight blocks,
but I can’t visualize more than six blocks.
I know the
Crisp’s moved in after we lived in our house, but I really don’t
not living there. Mr. Crisp was a
railroad Station Master. Mrs. Crisp
played the piano and sometimes taught music.
Miriam, Roberta, and Billy were their children.
Miriam was a little older and Roberta, or
Berta as I have always called her, a little younger, than I. Billy was several years younger.
The Crisp’s were family for me. I
would go home from school, change into
play clothes, and go back to Crisp’s till my parents came home from the
hardware store about 6 P.M. I really
don’t know how the Crisp’s put up with me so much.
an afternoon paper and when it came, we - usually it was me - would get
funny paper to read. Before we finished
looking through it, it was all mixed up.
Mr. Crisp never complained.
with Berta more than Miriam. Miriam was
two years older and when you’re young that makes a difference. She had outgrown our children’s games. We played “paper dolls” a lot.
Sometimes you would have printed people and
printed clothes with tabs to fold over to hold the clothes on the
people. Sometimes we would cut out people
in magazines and make clothes for them out of colored paper. I usually kept my paper dolls in a National
Geographic magazine. You would separate
the people and their clothes with different pages.
Crisp’s had a wall around their front yard and we liked to walk on top
that. Their front porch was pretty high
- I’d guess at least 10 feet. There
were concrete steps and every two steps had a concrete slab on the end. We used to jump off those end slabs to the
ground. I guess I was a show off and I
not only jumped off the end slabs all the way up, but climbed the
the porch and jumped off, not once, but many times.
I got stone bruises on the bottom of my feet.
For a while I could hardly walk. One
of the things they did was tie bacon
onto the bottom of my feet with cloths.
The bacon was supposed to draw the infection out.
It took awhile, but I recovered.
I got the
measles before I was in public school.
I’ve been told many times how I cried for 7 days and nights. We had one doctor and one dentist in our
town. Dr. Irish had been to see me and
I guess they thought I would be okay.
After all my crying, they must have called Dr. Irish back. He came and told my mother she must get me
to Chattanooga at once.
called a taxi to take us to the train.
My father called the Railroad Station Master to hold the train
doctor called the Chattanooga doctor to expect us. I remember it very
because they took me in my night clothes and wrapped me in a blanket. I was very embarrassed to be going in my
night clothes. The doctor was waiting
for us. I remember he stuck a long
probe into my ear, holding a cup under my ear.
It was filled with puss from my ear.
He told Mother that we got there just in time, before the ear
have burst and I would have been deaf in that ear.
that illness Mother also gave me Caster Oil mixed in orange juice. It was ages before I could enjoy an orange
again. About 35 years later, I found
the Caster Oil had done more than it was meant to do.
During some surgery the doctor found that at some time my
appendix had burst and scar tissue was all around in that area. He said he spent almost an hour cutting the
scar tissue away. He wanted to know
when I had been very ill, because if I hadn’t been sick and on
would surely have died.
remember getting well. Alba had gone
squirrel hunting and Mother made me squirrel soup with dumplings. It was the first thing I had eaten in a long
time and it tasted good. I always gave
Alba and his squirrel credit for making me well.
the other games we played were Hide and Seek, Jacks, Jump Rope, and Hop
Scotch. Sometimes Alba would bring his
girlfriend over to our house, Eva Louise from Richard City. She would play jacks with me.
I don’t think Alba was always too happy with
the attention Eva Louise gave me.
We had a
Victrola and many records. It was in a
real pretty cabinet. You had to turn
the crank handle to wind it up to play.
We had a number of Soussa’s March pieces. Sometimes
I’d play those and march through the house. When
other kids were there, we’d call it a
parade. There were two church numbers
we had that I loved, “The Ninety and Nine”.
It’s no longer in our hymnals, but Becky found it someplace and
copy for me. The other was “In the
Garden”. They were sung by a male,
Tenor, I think.
We did a
lot of roller skating on the sidewalks all over town.
I was a good skater. We
had some hills and you could really go fast going down.
One time I had skated just up to the corner
of our street and across the street it started to rain real hard. I turned around real fast, fell and skinned
my knees, got up, hurried home - but it never rained there.
wanted a bicycle, but my parents wouldn’t get me one.
I expected something good to come when Alba left home. I was sure I would get his bicycle, but they
gave it away. They said they were
afraid I would get hurt.
Kyle would gig for frogs. Alba would
bring them home and fry frog legs.
Sometimes the legs would jump when put in the skillet. I don’t
know if I
ever ate any of those. He also
fished. I helped eat his fish.
Kyle and Alba were sleeping in a tent at Battle Creek Campground, a big
rattlesnake got inside their tent. I
don’t know how, but they killed it.
Alba had the skin mounted on a board and hung it in my playhouse
bunk house). I believe it had 10 or 12
rattles. Is that a big snake?
Sunday’s my father and I liked to climb the Mountain.
We would spend all afternoon climbing. We
knew the mountain well and had our favorite places.
porch faced the mountain. We had a
porch swing and I liked to just swing and look at the mountain. Our street was the last street at the foot
of the mountain. I’ve always loved the mountains. Years
later when I lived in San Antonio, Texas, there was one
place high enough that at night you could see the lights of the city. I liked to go there.
said, I spent much time at the Crisp’s.
Mrs. Crisp was so good to me.
She would tell me how nice I looked, how well I had done
how smart I was. She gave me confidence
I did have
pretty hair. I heard that from many
people from many places. My Mother
would say “yes, she has pretty hair, but she’s not pretty”.
I had a
swing on the big oak tree at the back of the house.
It hung on a high branch.
I guess Alba made it, I don’t think my dad would have climbed
high. Because the rope was so long, I
could really swing high.
me a seesaw in the front yard.
Sometimes Alba would humor me and seesaw with me.
Mostly it was Berta and me. We
would seesaw and sing: “Oh the moon shines
tonight on Charlie Chaplin, his shoes are
want a blackin’, and his little red pants need a patchin’, where he’s
scratchin’ mosquito bites”. I
idea where that song came from. Maybe
we made it up. Charlie Chaplin was a
silent movie star.
special friend was Lois Barker. She had
four sisters - one older, the rest younger.
They moved into the house across the street from Crisp’s. Mrs. Barker was an excellent
seamstress. Mother would buy material
for two dresses. Mrs. Barker would make
two dresses: one for me, one for
Lois. I had some pretty clothes.
also sewed for me. One time she made me
rainbow dresses. That was seven dresses
- all a different color - one for each day of the week.
I started making my own clothes when I went
to High School.
Grahams were good friends of ours. They
lived on a farm out from Stevenson, Alabama.
They had several children. Lois
Graham was the oldest. I first remember
her as a school teacher. I also
remember two boys - one about my age, and a girl much younger. A few years ago, I visited Lois in
Georgetown, Kentucky, where she lives now.
I asked her how our families got acquainted.
Her father bought things from our hardware store and we bought
They had a
big farm house with a center open hall - called a “dog trot”. A large living room with a big fire place -
a large kitchen and bedrooms upstairs as well as on the main floor. There was a big spring house just off the
back porch. They kept their milk in
jars setting in the troughs where the cool spring water ran. They had an apple orchard.
We would pick apples and press them in a
wooden apple press for fresh apple cider.
had tennis courts and the boys would play with us.
We always took one of my friends with us - Berta, Miriam or Lois
Barker. They were always ready to go
when asked. We also ate lots of
watermelon that had been cooled in the spring house.
brother John Burk built a hotel in Harlingen, Texas.
Mother and I, Aunt Birda, her husband (Uncle Ed
Dayton who ran a drug store in Chattanooga),
their daughter Georgia and grandson,Dayton, all went to the grand
opening. We went on the train. When we first got to the Hotel and went to
my Uncle’s suite of rooms, his son, Raymond, who was about 3 years old,
behind me and broke a light bulb over my head.
I was very
impressed with the Hotel. There was a
roof garden where people could dine and dance.
The kitchen was downstairs and there was a dumb waiter to get
to the roof. A dumb waiter is like an
elevator shaft, with a platform to set food on and ropes to pull or
platform. I thought that was real neat. My father didn’t go because he had to take
care of the store. I don’t think he
ever had a vacation.
We went to
the beach at Port Isabel on the Gulf.
To get to the beach on Padre Island, you had to go on a boat. They were small boats. When
you got on, you went down a few steps
and there was a bench on each side where you sat. There
were windows back of the benches and if the waves were
high, you had to shut the windows or you would get wet.
There was a bath house on the beach where
you could change clothes, but no other buildings. It
was fun at the beach to play in the waves and look for
shells. That may have been the start of
my not learning to swim. Whenever, there or any place else, if I got in
part way up to my knees, my Mother would say “don’t go in so deep you
went to Old Mexico. You couldn’t take a
car over. I guess we walked across a
bridge, then got on a sort of bus to ride into town.
You got on the bus and there was a long bench on each side of
bus. You sat on the bench and slid
yourself down to make room for others to sit.
There was no floor in the bus.
tour of Matamoros, we went to a cemetery.
All the graves were above ground.
Some workmen were breaking the seal on a tomb.
We learned that no one was paying the rent on the tomb so they
were taking the bones out, so someone else could be buried there. At one corner of the cemetery, there was a
walled off section. That was the bone
yard where bones were thrown. Years
later, at a gift shop, I bought a necklace made out of bone. I hope it was animal bones.
I still have the necklace.
happened on that trip that caused Georgia and Aunt Bessie to have a
out. I never knew what it was, but it
lasted forever. When I was older, I got
along well with both of them and each of them did many nice things for
me. You didn’t have to guess about their
for each other, so I had to be careful of what I did and said.
I think I
was 10 years old when I started spending the summers with Georgia. Dayton would have been 4 years old. It was all fun for me, but I guess I was
sort of helping take care of Dayton.
They lived in a beautiful home on 9 acres in Red Bank, a part of
Chattanooga. Aunt Birda and Uncle Ed
lived on one side of the home, and Georgia, Milton, and Dayton on the
side. I had my own room on Georgia’s
side of the home. They had a maid that
lived upstairs. One end of the long
attic had been finished off for her to live in.
They had a
Gardener, who was from Germany and spoke very little English. He had quarters that were built behind the
garage. He lived there until his
death. His name was Rudolph.
He was a small man. I would see him
lift big bags of fertilizer
and carry them to where they were to be used.
There were rose gardens, flower gardens by the pool - which was
pool 2 ½ to 3 feet deep for children - and flowers around the house. There was lots of work and he kept
everything beautiful. Many nights I
would see him sit on the wall of the driveway that came up the hill to
house. He smoked a pipe and the smoke
would curl away from him. No one ever
visited him and he hardly ever went into town.
I’m sure he was a very lonely man.
He did his own cooking in his quarters.
I felt so sorry for him.
raised Chihuahua dogs. They are small
dogs. She gave me one.
Mother liked cats, but not dogs, so she gave
my dog away one day while I was in school.
I guess that’s another reason why, if I consider it mine, I
or give anything away even if it is worthless.
bird dogs. He liked to show dogs as
well as hunt. Each set of dogs had a
nice big dog house and dog yard. Dayton
also had a pony. There was a big barn
for the pony. When Dayton got older
there was a bunk house for him in back of the barn.
to ride on Dayton’s pony. There was a
neighbor with a daughter about my age and they had horses.
We would ride together all up and down the
hills around there. We stayed on the
side roads. There were other neighbors
with a daughter older than I and a son younger. They
came over and played a lot too.
Dayton started to school - he went to Baylor, a boys’ private school -
three special friends; Bill V., Zeek, and another Bill, Bill T. Bill V. and Zeek lived nearby and they were
over a lot. The other Bill lived in
town, so I didn’t know him very well.
entertained a lot. There was always
such good food. She would invite her
friends to play bridge. She taught me
to play bridge. They made homemade ice
cream a lot. It was so good -
especially the peach and the strawberry.
Rudolph would turn the crank on the freezer.
When it was done we would eat it in soup bowls.
I was amazed at Dayton. He wouldn’t
eat the homemade, so they bought
Sunday’s, Uncle Ed would drive us to either Dayton, Tennessee or
Georgia to get ice cream sodas. That
was a good way to cool off on a hot day.
had a drug store on Ninth Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. That was in the black section of
Chattanooga. He was also a druggist and
the people in that neighborhood really liked him. He
would always help them any way he could. Uncle
Ed sold ice cream. Whenever I went there,
the first place I
went was to the ice cream freezer to get an ice cream cone, two dips at
alley was next to the drug store. One
day when I was there, a horse drawn ice wagon was coming down and the
brakes broke. That made the wagon push
the horse too fast and when it ran into the street, a car hit the horse
killed it. I saw it happen.
It was awful.
just been invented and Milton got one.
It was called a crystal set, and Milton had to put it together. When he got it to working, everyone was
excited. The station was WLW
Cincinnati. Reception was very
poor. It was several more years before
we got a radio.
took us swimming at Lake Winna-pa-soka in Chattanooga.
One day, Dayton and I were playing on a
water slide. Georgia would catch us as
we came down. I got scared and put my
arms to my side and Georgia couldn’t catch me.
I went under and didn’t come up.
I was wearing a red swim suit so Georgia could see me and pulled
out. I had swallowed water and it
hurt. I never had fun in water again
and I never learned to swim. I always
said, “If you didn’t have to get your face wet, maybe I could learn.” A few years ago my Cincinnati friend, Nancy,
said she could teach me and keep my face out of water.
Maybe I’ll try some day.
I went to
Georgia’s the day after school was out and came home the day before
One year I
did get sick. They had a doctor see me,
but he didn’t know what was wrong.
Uncle Ed was a druggist and he got some medicine for me. I just didn’t get better.
One night Milton sat by my bed all
night. I was used to Mother taking care
of me when I felt bad. I thought Milton
really loved me to watch me all night.
The morning after that, they decided to take me home and see if
doctor could help me. I lay on the back
seat of the car as they took me home.
Before we even got home, I was feeling better.
They had just had my room painted and everyone decided I had
paint sick and as soon as I was away from the paint, I got well.
Mother took me on a tour of the west.
It was a conducted tour by train and bus. We
were on the train a lot of nights and I got to sleep in the
upper berth. It was wonderful. We had a booklet on the train that had
pictures and descriptions of things we would be seeing from the train. I think I still have that.
We visited the National Parks and stayed in
their lodges. I was very impressed with
the Grand Canyon and Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Park.
I was also impressed with Royal Gorge. We
rode to the bottom of the gorge in kind of incline car.
Looking up impressed me. The
fireplace and chimney in the Grand
Canyon Lodge was so huge. We saw Old
Faithful, the mud pots, etc. It was
amazing to me that something in the earth could be so hot.
We went to the movie studios in Los Angeles
and watched them film. We were in San
Francisco - just all the tourist spots through the west.
A Mr. and
Mrs. Harrison Fair rented a room from us (the front bedroom). They did their own cooking, sharing the
kitchen with Mother. I don’t remember
if they used the dining room or the breakfast room.
Mother often said that it was wonderful that two women could use
the same kitchen and never have an argument.
had a laundry in So. Pittsburg. He was
the only one that could make any money in that laundry.
When he got it going well, he sold it. The
new people couldn’t make a go of it, so
he came back and took it over again.
When they came back, they lived with us again.
was a big man - my father was not. We
went to prayer meetings on Wednesday nights.
I would go to sleep on the pew and when the service was over,
would carry me home.
Alba went to see his girlfriend in Richard City. I
never knew how it happened, but Alba ran the car through the
back of her garage. Alba called Mr.
Fair at our house. Mr. Fair left right
after the call without saying a word.
He helped Alba get the car out.
The car wasn’t damaged. Mother
never heard of that accident. I guess
Alba repaired the garage.
I know of
two other times Alba got in trouble with our car. Once
he drove on the Main Street sidewalk, after all the stores
were closed and no one was there, but it was against the law and the
saw him so he got in trouble. So.
Pittsburg only had one policeman and he lived over the furniture store
time was when So. Pittsburg and Jasper were having a parade before
game - Jasper and So. Pittsburg are 6 miles apart and arch rivals for
football. The roads were slick and
somehow the car turned upside down.
Kyle, J. D. and Pete were with Alba.
Alba, Kyle and J. D. crawled out of the upside down car, but
come out. Alba called “Pete, are you
hurt?”, and Pete said “I can’t find my hat”.
They turned the car over. It was
muddy, but otherwise okay. I was at the
Hardware store when Alba came in, put the car keys on the desk and said
never going to drive a car again”, then left without saying what
happened. About 30 minutes later, he came
us what happened, took the keys and said “I’ve got to drive now or I’ll
be afraid to drive.”
liked the Fairs. When they moved back
to Cleveland, Tennessee to stay, they sometimes came for a visit. I told Mother I’d rather they visit than for
Sister to come.
them in Cleveland. They lived in Mrs.
Fair’s home that she grew up in. It was
full of beautiful furniture and paintings. The
bed I got to sleep in had a feather mattress. I
usually took a friend; often it was
Lois. We both thought that that feather
mattress was great.
They had a
real cute little dog. It was trained to
never leave the yard. Without a leash,
fence or wire of any kind - it just would not leave the yard.
was real sweet and Mr. Fair was a lot of fun.
They never had children. Mr.
Fair had a big laundry in Cleveland. He was very successful. He was elected to city offices too.
good friend was Morris Kyle Patton.
Kyle’s younger sister was Minerva.
They lived less than a block from us.
It was very rare that Mother had anyone stay with me but Minerva
few times. Our school had Parents Night
- only one a year that I remember. We
had regular school at night and our parents could come to visit. My parents were working at the store and
didn’t come. Minerva was in High
School. I think I was a 3rd
grader. She walked home with me. One year we had planned to go visit Sister
and I came down with Chicken Pox. I
stayed home and Minerva stayed with me.
well one trip we made to visit my sister, Cathern Green in Birmingham. Alba drove and Kyle went with us.
Kyle played a French Harp. To me, a
French Harp has a lonesome sound,
but beautiful. The road was just a dirt
road and it had rained and the road was awful.
We came upon a car that had a flat tire. Another
car had stopped to help.
The tire was on the left back wheel.
There was no way to get the car out of the muddy road. The man that stopped to help was trying to
get a jack under the car. He had just
laid down in mud to get under the car, when another car came along and
the man. That car didn’t stop. I guess the soft mud kept the man from being
killed. They got him up and soon a
police car came along. They told the
what had happened. The police wrote out
a report and then asked the man that had been run over to sign it. The man was in a lot of pain and his hands
shook so that he could hardly hold the pen.
He signed the best he could.
on after that. We figured the police
would take care of things. We watched
the papers to see if anything was in the paper about it.
We never saw anything. I always
wondered if he died, because
something inside was surely crushed.
little town got some very unwanted publicity one year.
The men at the stove foundry went on
strike. It was very ugly.
They managed to drain our town water tower
and pour gasoline all around the stove foundry building.
The men were caught before it was lit. The
National Guard was called in. There were
tanks, trucks, and soldiers all
around. The Mayor had been
threatened. His only daughter had an
army escort take her to school. She was
blonde. I was blonde.
We were the same size and in the same
grade. My parents were afraid the “bad”
guys would think I was her. They had
threatened to kidnap her. My parents
walked to school with me. Nothing else
really bad happened, but for years after, when you told someone you
So. Pittsburg, they’d say, “Oh, you had to call out the National
one of our early cars didn’t have side windows. When
it rained you had to stop and snap in the sides. I
guess it was some kind of water proof
canvas. It was not very good.
The roads were pretty bad too. One
time, Alba hit a big bump he didn’t
expect and I nearly bounced out of the car.
I was in the back seat and was straddled on the door. It scared him more than me, I think.
I guess I
was 11 or 12 when we went to Texas to visit Uncle John Burk. Uncle John had built a hotel in Harlingen,
Texas which he named the Reese-Wil-Mond after his three sons, John
William Edwin, and Raymond. We took
Lois with us. We sang a lot while we
rode. I had her play double solitaire
so much with me when we were stopped, I think she was sick and tired of
solitaire. We were on a straight
stretch of road in Alabama, when we had a blowout.
Mother had been going pretty fast. Fast
in those days was somewhere between 45 and 50. Mother
couldn’t control the car and it was
going from side to side of the road and tilting on two wheels each time. Daddy was in the front seat.
The emergency brake was between the driver
and passenger. Daddy pulled the
emergency brake. When he did, the car
spun around to head the other way. The
front end was really airborne because there was a deep gully on the
side of the
road. All the luggage was piled on top
of me and it was lucky that Lois wasn’t thrown out.
soon a police car came along. They said
they were looking for us because when we passed them we were going too
fast. They didn’t give Mother a ticket,
but helped put on the spare tire and got us on our way.
trip, we also visited Uncle Ralph Bloss in McKinney, Texas and Uncle
Bloss in Wetherford, Texas - two of Daddy’s brothers.
I was so impressed with Uncle Ralph’s son, Charles.
He was older than Lois and I, and a very
good looking guy. He was in high
school. He was so nice to us.
He entertained us by taking us around,
introduced us to some of his friends.
Here were two girls he had never seen before, and he spent his
us, when I’m sure he would have liked to be doing other things.
We had a
very nice visit with Uncle Ralph Bloss, a railroad engineer, and then
to visit Uncle Charley Bloss, a retired college professor.
He had a farm, raised peanuts and
watermelons and had pecan trees. They
had a storm cellar, the first one I had ever seen.
It was a little way from the house - all underground - the dirt
was mounded over the top. A wooden door
opened on the slant of the dirt mound to the ground level.
There were steps to get down. When
we were there, Uncle Charley had
watermelons down there, which were kept cool.
He brought up a whole bunch and cut them end to end. We ate them in the yard. Just
take up a long slice, hold it at each
end, eat the heart of the melon, get another slice, etc.
Never bother with the seeds, no spoons
needed. Really neat.
On the court house grounds they had a huge
watermelon statue. The sign beside it
said, “Watermelon Capital of the World”, with the size and weight of
Charlie’s wife, Aunt Dixie,
was a super cook. I really ate there. She made some great pickles, the best I ever
ate - even yet. Years later I asked one
of her daughters if she had the recipe, but she didn’t.
decided to sell the hardware store.
Maybe Mother was tired of collecting from those she called
“deadbeats”. Daddy was an easy target
for one getting credit. He would
believe any hardship tale he heard.
Then after months of being unpaid, Mother would go out to
collect. I don’t know what she said or
unless the reason was real, she collected.
She could be an easy touch too.
There must have been a lot of bad debts on the books when he
know how the news got out that a hardware store was for sale. Daddy had several inquiries, but one was
really interested. He was from some
other area, and when he and his wife came to look it over, they stayed
house. They must have left and then
come back to finalize the deal, and again were at our house. The reason I remember it this way is that
Mother had time to let Aunt Birda know that there was a buyer.
received a letter from Aunt Birda saying she hoped the sale went
through. I read the letter.
I guess that was the first I knew they really had a buyer. Mother and Daddy had talked about going to
Texas so that Daddy could be the engineer in maintenance for the Uncle
hotel. So when I read the letter, I
started dancing around and saying we could go to Texas.
Mother was shushing me up to be quiet. I
guess she was afraid I would ruin the
sale. They, Mr. and Mrs. Honey, did buy
the hardware store, and they became very good friends of ours.
must have sold the hardware store before the ‘29 stock market crash and
recession. I know that they were making
plans to go to Texas and Daddy decided to put all his money accounts in
bank. He had used two banks.
The banks closed March 6, 1933. The
bank he chose to use was the one that
failed. I think he got about 15 cents
on the dollar for his accounts. My
small account was there too. I don’t
remember getting any of it.
It had to
be 1930 when we first went to Texas - sometime in late summer. Daddy was going to be in charge of
maintenance, such as elevator, heavy duty laundry equipment, heating,
whatever. There wasn’t air conditioning
at that time. Mother was going to
oversee the kitchen. Grandmother had
had a hotel and restaurant, one of her sons and his wife also had a
and Uncle John and Mother both had ideas along that line.
in one large room. If I had friends
over, we used the Hotel Parlor on the second floor.
I think we were on the fourth floor. Before
school started, I met Joy. Her mother was
a seamstress and had a little business just down
the street from the Hotel. Joy was the
same age as me, 13 years old. She was
allowed to drive her parents car and we went places together. She introduced me to others, so when school
started I knew a few kids. We roller
skated a lot too.
day of school, I took my school records from Tennessee.
I was to be in the 8th
grade. The principal put me in the 7th
grade because Texas only had 11 grades and Tennessee had 12 grades. Texas furnished your school books. I took the books and when I looked through
them, I had had all that material.
next day, I went to the principals office and told him I already had
material and I wanted to go into the 8th grade.
After a bit of “discussion” he said “Ok,
I’ll let you try the 8th grade, but if your grades aren’t
you go to the 7th”.
went to a room to get my books for the 8th grade. There was a list of required subjects and a
list of electives, which included foreign languages, home economics,
etc. I must say I was a little
because in Tennessee, that was the 9th grade.
indicate I was surprised. I elected to
take Spanish and Home Ec. The others
were English, Algebra, History, and Gym.
I’d never had Gym before either.
My school in Tennessee didn’t have Gym until high school, and
after school hours. During school hours
the gym was study hall.
I made the
honor roll so I didn’t have to go back.
I decided that they did 2 years
work in the 7th grade. They
had an A and B term - 7A the first half of the school year, and 7B the
elevator operator was Spanish. The fair
skin Mexicans are of Spanish decent and the darker skin Mexicans are of
decent. I did my Spanish lessons on the
elevator. It would be hard to find
someone that rode an elevator more than I did.
I liked Home Ec, because I liked to eat. Maybe
even knowing Joy’s mother got me interested in sewing, so I
did okay. Because Dad was an Engineer,
he could always help with any kind of math.
The rest was just study on your own.
one other girl living in the hotel.
She, Betty, was older than me.
Her father was a retired railroad executive. They
had a suite of rooms, a big car, and she had beautiful
clothes. I was so impressed with
her. I was given a dress that Betty had
outgrown. I thought it was the
prettiest dress I had ever had. It was
red, with white dots (dotted Swiss). It
had a full gathered skirt. I felt I
should go to a party whenever I wore it.
a boy that lived there too. His name
was Ted. He was in my class.
His father said that he would give us money
for every A we made. I don’t remember
how much it was - seemed to me it was $1.00, but that would have been a
money in those days. Maybe because I
had several A’s I got $1.00. Poor Ted,
he hardly ever got an A.
or Betty’s father drove us to school.
One day when Betty’s mother was picking us up and I was standing
sidewalk talking to a boy, she told me that I was too young to have a
boyfriend, and I shouldn’t be talking to him by myself.
I did have my first boyfriend that year,
but it wasn’t the boy I was talking to on the sidewalk.
My boyfriend’s name was Eugene, or
Gene. We always did things in a group,
or sometimes we would walk to a movie theater which was close to the
Some of my
friends thought it would be great to live in a Hotel.
Some would want me to go to their house because they were shy
didn’t want to come to the hotel. Joy
wasn’t shy. It didn’t bother Gene
good things about Hotel life. No
housework, laundry, or cooking. I could
always order anything I wanted from the menu.
Steaks, chicken, desserts, ice cream.
I liked Heinz Chili Sauce with my steak. Uncle
John would tell me he had to buy Chili Sauce by the case
just for me. When I got home from
school, the dining room was closed, but I could go to the kitchen and
myself a dish of ice cream, a really big dish.
would let me drive his car if I wanted to go someplace after school. A few times one of my teachers let me drive
her car to run an errand for her. I was
glad Alba had taught me how to drive.
I was in
some school plays. Sometimes speaking
parts and sometimes dance routines. I
never took private dancing lessons, but a teacher would teach us as a
little tap for a number or something on a more graceful line. We had tap shoes and ballet shoes. It was more or less something only a parent
Tennessee, I had taken piano from Mrs. Turner for several years. I would walk to her house after school for
my lesson. When we had school programs,
Francis Kellerman, who was in high school, sometimes played the violin. He was good and I liked it so much, I wanted
to take violin. I guess it took 2 years
or more before my parents gave in. I
finally got to take violin. I got an
award for making the most progress in one year. I
guess I was in the 6th grade when I got to play in
the school orchestra. A man from Jasper
came to our school to direct us.
elocution for a couple of years. My
teacher was a daughter of the only Jewish family in So. Pittsburg. She was real nice. You
had to memorize the pieces, and the only thing I remember of
that was a piece called “Why Worry?”.
It went something like this:
There are only two things to worry about - one being something
do anything about, the second being something that might not even
doing a program one year in Texas when a hurricane was reported. There were a number of people in the
convention center where the program was to be.
We all felt safe in this large sturdy concrete building. The storm did not develop that time, but
when it did hit about 2 years later, that building, and our school
were destroyed. A large hotel sign on
top of my Uncle’s hotel was also blown away and never found. I was glad I wasn’t there then.
Virginia were married June 7, 1931 at 8 A.M. in the Presbyterian Church
Pittsburg. At that time our Methodist
Church was being torn down and a new one was to be built in its place. Since we were not there, Alba’s friends took
care of decorating the church and had a reception for them.
working for the National Cash Register Co. in Nashville, Tennessee at
time. Virginia had come from Dayton,
Ohio, several months before and also had a job in Nashville, Tennessee.
bought a car in Chattanooga and Alba was bringing it to us in Texas,
was their honeymoon. We would all go
back to Tennessee together.
seeing Virginia for the first time. We
had never met her. We were having
dinner in the Hotel dining room when they arrived.
I looked up and saw Alba and Virginia in the doorway. Virginia was wearing a blue and white print
dress. Part of the material had a blue
background and white print and part a reverse of colors.
She had made the dress. It was very
pretty and so was she. I was happy to see
school year was over, we went back to Tennessee. Life
for me in Tennessee was a bit different. I
had grown up there and people knew there
were many things I wasn’t allowed to do, so I was not asked - like no
except maybe Rook or Old Maid, no dancing, no movies on Sundays. I didn’t go out with boys, just girl
groups. I always said, “My rules were
the same as the rules Sister had 20 years before, but now times had
changed.” I thought for something
special I should have been able to stay out after 10 P.M.
After 9 P.M. was considered late.
the rules had been relaxed a bit. Maybe
Uncle John had something to do with that.
He used to take me places - Mexico was fun.
He took me to a wrestling match.
The wrestler got thrown out of the ring and landed on me in the
row. I didn’t like that so I never went
that came to the Valley to perform stayed at the Hotel and I would get
them - Amelita Galli-Curci an opera star, was probably the most famous.
school started back in Tennessee, I went into the 10th grade. That didn’t make me very popular.
The kids I had been in school with didn’t
like the idea of my being ahead of them, and the ones I was with now
too happy to have that kid that was always a year behind them to be
enough to be in their grade.
didn’t teach Spanish in Tennessee, and you needed two years of foreign
language. I decided to wait and take
French in the 11th and 12 grades.
I never expected to go to school in Texas again.
I guess it must have been fairly easy for me
to learn. I did study and do my
homework, but I don’t think I ever had to struggle.
I was on the Honor Roll a good part of the time.
When a subject was over, I didn’t retain
that knowledge, I just wiped that away from my brain and went on to new
things. If one study wasn’t necessary
to the next, it was gone. That’s what
happened to my Spanish. I didn’t expect
to need it for school, and no one I knew in Tennessee spoke it, so
and I did.
For gym, I
now stayed after regular school for Basketball. I
did not play on the Varsity team. We had
two teams in our own school. I mostly
played guard. I
was always shorter than the forward, but I was fast and could jump
did a fair job.
Mother was driving a car, she went to Chattanooga more often. I liked the days she went, because I got to
buy my lunch at school. There was a
small building on the school grounds where you could buy a sandwich or
dog. They had candy bars and a big jar
filled with dill pickles. Dills in
small jars never taste like those in those big jars or barrels. They would reach in with big tongs and you’d
get a big pickle and eat it like you eat an apple.
Also, when Mother came home, she brought me a Creme Horn from a
super Chattanooga bakery. It was
I went to
Georgia’s again when school was out. By
now, she was introducing me to her friend’s sons. I
met some nice fellows and girls too. Dayton
had more interests of his own too, so we didn’t always go
or do the same things at the same time.
school started that fall, Uncle John wanted us to come back to Texas. We rented our So. Pittsburg home and went
back to Texas. This time, I would have
been in the 11th grade in Tennessee, but in Texas the same
was the 10th grade. I signed
up for Spanish again. It was
embarrassing. The teacher asked me, in
Spanish, what my name was and I didn’t know what she said.
That’s a basic first thing you learn. We
had a “discussion” about that. They had a
record of my grades for 1st
year Spanish and they again took a chance on me. I
took 1st and 2nd year Spanish.
Each was a separate class. It
wasn’t long until I began to remember,
and did well in both classes.
still around, but I began to distance myself from her.
She did things I didn’t like. For
instance, Joy’s mother made her a very
pretty dress. Joy didn’t like it so she
just ripped it up into rags. I didn’t
approve of her behavior on dates either.
still a friend, but not so special.
There wasn’t any reason for that.
I just had a different group of friends. Several
of them went to the church I went to. Pinky
(Kathleen) became my very special
girlfriend. Dub (W.C.) became my
boyfriend that year. Dub’s special
boyfriend was Darrell, so I wanted Pinky to go with Darrell when I went
Dub. Pinky liked Randall better and his
special friend was JoJo, so Pinky wanted me to go with JoJo. The boys were more willing for that
arrangement than Pinky and me.
the first and only place I ever had a nickname. I
was “Tiny” and still am to my Texas friends.
our car to school every day. I went to
the new high school and it was a long way straight down the street from
Hotel - 10 blocks, I guess. That made
me different, living in a Hotel and having the car all the time.
We did a
lot of horseback riding. We rented the
horses. We rode along the arroyos (dry
stream beds) out to the airport. There
weren’t many airplanes, so the airport was a good place to ride. I rode a horse named Coca Cola.
One day at the airport, he ran away with
me. Randall, I think, because he was a
good rider, caught up with me and grabbed the reins and stopped my
horse. I was really hanging on. After that, they told me he had been trained
to be a race horse, and that day something made him think he was in a
race. I rode him after that, but I was
more careful to control him better.
we would take a Victrola and records, and a bunch of us (10 or 20)
would go out
to one of those concrete roads in an unbuilt subdivision and dance in
One of the
fellows had a Model T Ford. Dub drove
one sometimes, but it didn’t belong to him.
One of the fellows had a motorcycle.
I don’t remember which one that was, but I rode with him
sometimes. Maybe it was JoJo.
I remember it seemed awfully fast and the wind could blow tears
out of your eyes. I didn’t ride very
often. I did enjoy the Model T.
would also have swimming parties. I
think I went to one, but no more, because I couldn’t swim.
It was no fun to sit on the side line, while
everyone else was in the water having fun.
I had my
16th birthday that January.
Pinky had a little party for me at her house.
I don’t remember who was there.
Would you think it strange that I don’t remember the girls names
but I do remember some of the boys:
Dub, Randall, Darrell, JoJo, Gene, and John.
I do remember John for sure.
He had lost an arm in an automobile accident in the fall of ‘32. A girl was killed in the same accident. I had gone to her funeral.
I remember how her hands looked. They
looked so unnatural. One doesn’t expect
young people to die.
year I was in Texas, a girl in my class died.
She had trouble with asthma.
When she would have a bad asthma attack, her parents had
give her and it had always helped, but this time, when she took the
she started to foam at the mouth, and she died soon after.
one that died was Lois’s sister. She
was about 8 years old, a little younger than Lois.
Her name was Mildred. She
had dark hair and was a very pretty, sweet girl. She
was ill for several weeks.
One day when I was at their house, Lois and I and I guess
sister, were talking and laughing and Lois’ mother came in and told us
quieter. I guess it was about a week
later that Mildred died. I don’t
remember what she had. It was a real shock. I just couldn’t believe she was dead.
my age died in So. Pittsburg while I was in school.
One was due to an accident, and one to illness.
John - Kids had a saying: “Sweet sixteen and never been kissed, or
sixteen and never been missed”. I
hadn’t been kissed and the boys were daring each other to kiss me. I knew they were doing that.
I was keeping a sharp eye on the boys I had
dated, but I had never dated John. I
was in my car and ready to leave and John walked up to the car and
even suspected, he kissed me.
I was mad
that I had been tricked. As I drove to
the Hotel, at a cross street a block from the Hotel, a lady on the
did not stop at her stop sign. I was on
the main street without a stop sign. I
hit the back bumper of the lady’s car.
Her car tilted over on its side, then settled back on its wheels. She was not hurt.
started coming from everywhere. There
was another Hotel on that corner, so a lot of people were around. You should never do what I did, but I
decided to put my car in the garage before I got hit by one of the
cars. The garage was in the middle of
the block, just beyond that intersection.
We kept our car there all the time, rather than leave it on the
street. The Hotel didn’t have a garage,
and we got a special rate there. I had
not been going fast and it really was the other lady’s fault. The police came down to the garage and
talked to me. They talked to some of
the witnesses too. The police took me
to the Hotel to talk to my parents. Our
car wasn’t damaged, so nothing happened to me.
The other lady was charged for failing to stop at a stop sign. I never told my parents that I was mad
because I had been kissed. Would the
accident have happened anyway?
an orchestra that played during the dinner hours in the dining room. That evening the orchestra dedicated a
number to me and the drummer presented me with a rose.
That was a good ending for my 16th
Texas began to issue driving licenses.
Alba had been transferred to Harlingen by the National Cash
Co. He and Virginia were living at the
Hotel till they found an apartment. He
went over and got a driver’s license.
He told me I should go. He told
me what you had to do. They had oral
questions, actual driving and parking.
He went over with me. I took the
test, passed without any problems, and got my first driver’s license.
never told me about the “birds and the bees”.
I don’t think they ever told Alba either. One
day he told me that if there was anything I wanted to know,
Virginia would talk to me. I guess I
didn’t want him to know I didn’t know very much and made some excuse so
didn’t talk to Virginia. All my
information came from the older girls at school. Not
had an active youth group. We had good
times at the church, went on day trips. Pinky
was a member there too.
We had parties. I seem to go way
back when it comes to enjoying food.
Miriam would make us candy, chocolate fudge, buttermilk fudge,
cookies... Years later I asked her for her
fudge recipe and she didn’t remember ever making it.
Ice cream at Georgia’s - everything was good.
Mother cooked some good stuff too. Even
when Alba was still at home, if he
didn’t go to church on Sunday, he had to cook Sunday dinner. That was fried chicken. The
Hotel dining room food - food - I do
like good food.
needed to have surgery. He needed to
have his tonsils and adenoids removed.
I took him to the hospital. I
believe it was in Mission, Texas, which is not far from Harlingen.
Daddy had a
local anesthetic. He sat in a chair for
the surgery and I sat at his side and held his hand.
I watched a little. Daddy
held my hand very tight. When the
surgery was over, they put him in a room and I stayed with him. The nurses checked him a couple of times,
then it was lunch time. Daddy started
to bleed badly. I went to the hall and
called loudly for a nurse. Only one
nurse was left on duty and she was with another patient.
I got some ice and held it on him till the
nurse came. It was scary.
I took Daddy back to the Hotel the next day
and he recovered. He had more trouble
in the same area in later years.
doctor had a violin that he wanted to sell.
The label said “Stradivari”. It
wasn’t a real Stradivarious. It was
beautiful violin though and the tone was wonderful.
It was expensive. The
doctor had gotten it in Mexico. Daddy
bought it for me. Daddy must have told
the doctor I played - why else would the doctor mention it? My father had a lot of confidence in
me. He thought I could do anything. Even though I may not have played any
better, the music sounded better. The
violin was destroyed in a fire at my parent’s motel in So. Pittsburg,
some years later.
I was in
school plays too. I have a newspaper
clipping from the previous time I was in school in Harlingen that says
president of the Home Ec Club. I don’t
even remember that. I was more popular
with the other kids in Texas than I was in Tennessee.
I began to play a little tennis that year.
had closed in his roof garden soon after he opened his hotel. He needed more rooms. He
now had a Patio where he had dances on
Saturday night. Our room was above the
patio and many nights I went to sleep listening to their music. I remember a piece named “Shuffle Off to
Buffalo” they played a lot.
we decided we would like to go to Monterey, Mexico before we went home. Alba and Virginia were going to go with
us. We drove both cars to El Paso. There we put Alba’s car in a garage and all
went in our car across the border. Alba
drove and we had a wonderful time. The
drive to Monterey was interesting.
Monterey was very pretty and Monterey Falls was pretty. When we walked down the street, a couple of
times a Mexican reached out and touched my hair. I
didn’t like that. I
guess they didn’t see blonde hair like mine very often.
Maybe they didn’t think it was real.
some pictures that the border patrol would not like.
They wanted your film developed so they could see the pictures
some away from you if they didn’t approve.
We hid our undeveloped film under the dashboard.
up Alba’s car in El Paso and all of us went to Tennessee.
Mother started out driving our car, but she
couldn’t keep up with Alba. He stopped
and had me drive. I followed him. When he wanted me to pass a car after him,
he stayed in the left lane. If he moved
to the right lane, I stayed back.
good to get back to Tennessee and see the Crisp‘s.
Mrs. Crisp, as always, built up my ego, I think sometimes to the
detriment of her girls. Miriam said she
wanted to go to - I think it was New York.
Mrs. Crisp said she would let Miriam go, if I went with her. She said I was so well traveled, I’d know
how to take care of Miriam. A few years
ago I asked Miriam if she resented the attention and confidence her
me. Miriam said not often, but
time again with Georgia. We went to
Daytona Beach, Florida for a week or so.
We had done that before. I was
still riding horses too. Always
interesting things there. I even
enjoyed sitting on the porch in the evening watching the cars go by
on Dayton Blvd. You could imagine who
were in the cars, where they were going, and where they came from. I watched Rudolph still smoking his pipe,
but older, and lonely.
Milton, Dayton and I went to the Chicago World’s Fair.
They had rented an apartment for a
week. It was close enough to the fair
grounds for us to walk. There was so
much to see and do and eat at the fair.
The main thing I remember was Sally Rand, the Fan Dancer. There was so much - pro and con - about
her. We saw her. We
were way back from the stage, and what we
saw was a graceful dancer with very large feather fans.
home, a friend of ours had a beauty shop.
She lived on our street and I had known her a long time. She asked me if I would like to help her at
the shop. She showed me how she wanted
shampoo’s done. I would do that. That helped the others do more
customers. Most hair was set in waves,
not rolled on curlers as is done now.
By watching, I learned how to set my own hair.
I also picked up a little on how to cut my hair, at least
trim. I also swept up and did a few
other things, a sort of “gopher”. Sometimes when I had set my hair at home, I
would go to the shop and she would let me sit under the dryer to dry it. She never charged me.
would be time for school. My last year
of High School - the 12th grade.
I had my two years of Spanish now, so I didn’t have to worry
foreign language. I needed a science
class. I had had Biology, so it was
either Chemistry or Physics. I didn’t
want either, but I chose Physics. It
turned out to be a lucky choice. The
Physics teacher was also the football coach.
I would not have said this then, but I do think he gave me the
of the doubt whenever he could.
no school transportation for the football team when they played out of
town. Are you ahead of me?
I drove football players to their games. That
was pretty neat just me and these
guys. They were a good team.
We won a lot.
big study hall room we had flat top desks with four drawers. Three to four students sat at each
desk. Our table (desk) had three: me, Fred - a football player, and
William. William could get me into
trouble. He had dry humor that could
get me laughing. I would get to
giggling. Fred was in class when
William and I were there. Mr. Shelton,
who was in charge of that period would walk over. He
had big eyes. He’d
look at me with a look that was frightening, and William would sit
innocent studious guy. I don’t remember
if I ever had to stay after school, but I may have.
could play the piano at the age of four.
He became an excellent musician and choir director.
He was the organist and director of a famous
downtown Chicago church.
I had a
pretty good year in school that year.
My classmates accepted me more.
One of my classmates was named Pace.
I don’t know what became of her.
Since I became a Pace it would be nice to know.
advisor was Catherine Dietzon. She had
taught Alba too. She taught
English. When Alba was either a Junior
or Senior he drove the car, a big touring car, for some of the high
teachers for an extended western tour.
Alba was well liked. It doesn’t
hurt to have a well liked brother to go before you.
Miss Dietzon let our class do some interesting things. I also had some dates. One
was a fellow named Clyde. I had
several good girl friends, even names I can remember.
I had a
nice part in the senior play. I had the
love interest, described as beautiful but dumb. Sam
had the part opposite me.
We had to kiss in the final act.
Rachel, Mary Louise, Clyde, Sam - at the moment I can’t remember
others. Miss Dietzon was our director.
recruiter called on me to attend a Girl’s college in Nashville,
Tennessee. That college has moved to
now. I didn’t think I wanted to go to
an all girls school. Miriam and Mary
Louise were going to the University of Chattanooga, and I went there
Daddy bought the old school property, where I first went to school. I’m sure it must have been Mother’s idea to
build a motel. They tore down the big
building and left the separate building.
Mother named the motel Courtesy Court.
Barker was now living in Jasper. I had
been visiting her and had the feeling that I should go by the
to see how things were going. So I left
and went back to So. Pittsburg, and when I got to where the work was
a workman rushed out to me and said, “I’m glad to see you, your father
a heat stroke”. I think the doctor was
there. They put Daddy in the back seat
and went with me so they could get Daddy out of the car.
They put him to bed, and the doctor was
there. He was very ill for some
time. I was very worried about him and
it was so fortunate that I went by just when I did.
I stayed with Georgia some.
She always had the same job for me each year - to straighten a
closet. It was a large closet with
shelves for both china and linens. We
took everything out each year. She
would hand things to me and I put everything on the dining room table. She would check, rearrange, clean if needed,
and I would hand everything back. She
had to use a ladder a lot. She was
short like me.
some of Georgia’s friends’ sons that summer.
We went to some dances, movies and parties.
I also played bridge with daughters of her friends.
It was called auction bridge, now its
different, its contract bridge. George
says no one plays auction bridge anymore.
It’s an older game. I think
We went to
Daytona Beach, Florida again. I’ve got
a picture of me with a whole string of fish we caught.
There was a real good place there to get ice
cream. Food again.
time came and I started to U. C. I
roomed with Miriam and Mary Louise.
This was in a private home. They
rented two other rooms and one man lived in each of those rooms. We ate our breakfast and supper there. They had a cook, and boy, what good
food! We all ate around a big
table. There was the father, mother,
daughter, and five boarders. The
daughter, Virginia, finally married one of the boarders.
She was older than we were and had finished
college. I never missed a meal.
It was a
big mistake for me to go to school there.
At that time they didn’t have any Home Economics classes. That was what I wanted to take.
There must be a gene in my line that leans
toward cooking. Grandmother, two
uncles, Mother. The only subject that
interested me was Spanish. This time I
had remembered it. My Spanish teacher
liked my accent. She was going to take
a group on a tour of Spain and wanted me to go. I
I was in a
History class with a girl named Dorothy.
I didn’t know her very well, but she must have liked me. She put my name in to be a Pledge to the
Alpha Delta Pi sorority. Miriam
belonged to a local sorority and put my name in there.
Her sorority later became a national one,
but I chose to go to the Alpha Delta Pi.
I met my Chattanooga friend Nancy there. She
was a pledge too. My
sorority had a real nice house. They
entertained a lot. You could go there
when you didn’t have a class. No one
lived in the house, maybe a housekeeper did, but students didn’t.
dances in the University gym and football games to go to.
I had my car (our car) there a good part of
the time. Sometimes we, Miriam, Mary
Louise and I would go to So. Pittsburg for a weekend.
a Jewish boy in school that talked to me a lot. He
was from New York. He
had asked me to go out with him, but I had refused.
Soon after that another older student came over to me, when I
in the library, and said, “don’t go out with that Jewish fellow - he
have any respect for a Christian girl.
He will try to degrade you”. I
don’t know if he knew that, or if he just didn’t like Jews. I never went out with him, but he only asked
me out once more.
to figure out which years I did what, from 1934 when I graduated from
school, to 1939 when I met George. I
didn’t stay in college. I left after
the first term, so I never became a member of the sorority. My grades were okay, but I wasn’t interested
enough in my subjects.
during these years when I was not in school, I happened to be at
she got sick, just too sick to go out.
She was a very good artist. She
did paintings and china. She was
teaching art at Baylor school. She had
me go over and take care of her classes for three days.
I have no qualifications to be a teacher and
certainly not an art teacher. All I did
was keep order in the class and see that they were working on something. I’d walk around and look at their work
- try to make an intelligent
comment. These were all boys and they
were well behaved. I believe it was the
7th grade. From what I hear
of schools today, first, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to do
if I had been allowed, the kids would have given me a hard time.
told me for years that if I would pick out a china pattern, she would
a set of dishes. I kept telling her
that I liked everything she painted and would be happy for anything.
Christmas in the 1950’s, she sent me a place setting and said if I
pattern, she would paint me a set. Of
course I did, and she did. She was
getting arthritis in her hands and sometimes her hands would go numb
would drop what she was painting. She
said this pattern was the easiest she did, and she could almost do it
stayed in a number of motels in our back and forth trips to Texas. We stayed in a motel in Arkansas that had
air conditioning. The air conditioner
was a box built by a window. The window
was open, the box was filled with hay or straw and wet with dripping
fan blew air through the hay. Some
things have improved.
was built. Mother named it Courtesy
Court. We sold our home to the
that had rented it the last year we were in Texas.
Most of the motels we stayed in were built with a room, then a
garage (with no door) - a room - garage - etc.
That’s how ours was. There was a
filling station in front, then a dining room, the station office - with
restrooms, and the kitchen back of the station. The
dining room was as large as the station and kitchen.
Our living quarters were next. We
had two bedrooms, living room and
bath. The separate building, that I had
started to school in, was left and upgraded.
Sometimes it was rented to a family or as a sort of bunk house
several men. A number of men that
worked at the stove foundry would rent there, but their families lived
Chattanooga, and they went home on the weekend.
1939, another row of rooms was built and metal material was used to
build a row
of garages. A storage space and wash
house for laundry was built at one end of the garages.
The bus station was moved to our place. Tickets
were sold in the filling station
office. Breakfast, lunch and dinner
were served 7 days a week in the dining room.
Carry out lunches were prepared for workmen that lived there if
sold gas at the station. One time a
fellow had a flat tire that I changed.
I don’t think he thought I could do it.
He stood over me, watching all the time. I’m
the one that now knows I couldn’t change a flat tire.
I don’t even want to get my own gas, and its
a lot easier than it was then.
helped wait tables and sell candy, gum or cigarettes when I was home. One time a fellow came in and wanted to know
if we had Brachs. I didn’t know what he
was talking about. That’s a candy
company. If he had asked for the kind,
they make several, I would have known what to tell him.
Mother’s main cook. She was a real good
cook. Her younger sister, Grace, also
worked there. She was like a mother to
Grace. Grace was married but Don had
never married. Mother, Don, Grace, and
another lady, whose name I have forgotten, did the kitchen and dining
room. Another lady cleaned the rooms. I helped her sometimes.
have been the summer before I went to U. C. that I took Daddy back to
see his doctor - Alba had been
transferred to New Orleans. On
this trip I had a new car. I was
Mother when she was buying this car, and I was wearing a gray suit. This silver gray car, a Dodge, with spare
tires on either side near the front, looked great with my suit. That’s the one we got. If
you think that buying a car to go with a
suit is a bit much, how about the time we bought a new one because the
had was dirty. We made a trip to
Sister’s once and when we got back,
because the car was muddy, we bought a brand new clean one.
from Chattanooga to New Orleans and we stopped to visit Alba and
Virginia. Alba showed us around New
Orleans. I guess we stayed a couple of
days. We left and spent the night
the way, then drove to Harlingen. I
drove a long way from early morning till about 8 P.M.
Dub knew I was coming, so he and Pinky had a little welcome
for me that night. I was so tired that
I really wasn’t too excited about that, even though I was glad to see
them. I went to the party, but I didn’t
remember much about it. I do remember
that I woke up in the night and didn’t remember if I had come home. The next morning, I asked Daddy what time I
came in and he said 10 o’clock.
surgery Daddy had had never healed properly.
We stayed in Texas awhile and I had a good time and Daddy saw
several times. Mother must have been
supervising something in Tennessee because she didn’t go with us.
I had a lot of boy friends, but most were boys that were friends. I was a good listener, and they would talk
to me and we could enjoy being together.
that time I dated a Tennessee fellow named Allen.
He was a younger brother of one of my So. Pittsburg High School
teachers. He lived in Chattanooga. His sister had introduced us.
She had left teaching and was the book
keeper at the Broad Street Garage, where I parked our car when I went
town. My friend Nancy knew Allen
too. We double dated.
Several times we went to the “Alhambra”, a
night club in Chattanooga. When I dated
Allen I was at Georgia’s or at U. C.
Allen was a good dancer and I enjoyed dancing.
Allen did or said something that I didn’t like.
I think it had something to do with
Daddy. I didn’t hold anger long, so I
knew I would forget why I was mad at him, so I wrote it down and put it
safe. After a few months I took it out and
threw it away, so I don’t know why I was mad at him.
spends the winter in Florida now. Last
time I saw her, Nancy asked me if I knew what Allen was doing. I had forgotten him completely.
He’s a lawyer and Nancy told me some of the
things she’s read in the paper about him.
Some of his doings seem a bit shady.
The union at
the stove foundry was in the news again.
Daddy wrote a piece for the paper that the union took offense
threatened to harm Daddy. He went to
Birmingham and stayed with Sister till it blew over.
daughter, Susan, sent my husband, George, a book: “Ladies
of the Club”. The
lady that wrote it lived where Daddy grew up.
That book explained to me where Daddy got his views about many
things. When unions were first
starting, that area was not a union area.
With Daddy, if you worked for someone, he was your boss. If you didn’t like what he asked of you, you
quit, like he did at the Cement Plant.
When we still lived at the house, Daddy had something in the
the union didn’t like and they threatened to burn our house down. A police detail watched our house, but
nothing ever happened.
father was a union man and for him it was good, and most union people
people. I think the unions were
necessary, and are now, but I think they have gone too far and asked
sometimes. George and I can disagree on
became ill and was taken to Temple, Texas.
There is a very good hospital there.
Aunt Bessie needed to be at the Hotel, so she asked me if I
in Temple with him. I got the train in
Bridgeport, Alabama. A friend took me
to the train. It was during the 1937
flood - January. I had to change trains
in Memphis, Tennessee. I got a sleeper
there. The train pulled out at
night. The Mississippi River was right
up to the tracks. The train barely
moved. I was told a man walked in front
of the train to be sure the track was still there.
Bessie had rented a room for me across the street from the hospital. I ate my meals at the hospital.
I read a lot of books and magazines and sat
beside Uncle John. He was not able to
get out of bed. He had fluid develop in
his chest cavity. They would put a
needle in his chest and draw out the fluid.
This would have to be done every few days, and it was very painful.
There was tuberculosis in this fluid, but no place else. It was something very rare.
Dr. Moon was his main doctor and he gave a
report about Uncle John at one of the large doctor’s meetings.
over to see me and Uncle John. He was
living in Tyler, Texas. He always
worked for NCR. It was pretty cold
there. My heat was a small gas heater
in my room. Alba didn’t like that. There was no vent for the heater.
He told me to turn it off at night. He
was afraid I would be asphyxiated.
there about two months. A lady from
Harlingen came to the hospital for some treatment.
Aunt Bessie told her to look me up. She
did. She was staying
at the downtown Hotel and she had her car.
She took me to lunch at her hotel.
I really enjoyed that outing.
That and Alba’s visit was the only diversion I had.
doctor’s decided there was nothing they could do to help Uncle John and
John wanted very much to go back to Harlingen.
So Aunt Bessie rented a house and hired a nurse, and Uncle John
went back on the train. An ambulance
took him to and from the train. He was
into the house with Uncle John. I had
the front bedroom and Uncle John was in the back bedroom.
I had Uncle John’s car, so I went back and
forth to the Hotel. I ate most of my
meals at the Hotel. Most of Uncle
John’s food was prepared at the house.
There wasn’t much he could eat.
Most of his nourishment was given intravenously.
were away at school, so there wasn’t much for me to do.
I stayed at the house most of the time, did
a lot of reading. A nurse was always
with Uncle John, but I sat with him a lot.
I could talk to him about things and places we had been.
we were going on a trip. Some wild
turkeys were along the road. They flew
up just as we got to them. One broke
the windshield of the car and the glass cut Uncle John on the neck,
ear. He was bleeding a lot.
I don’t know how we happened to have some
bandaging in the car, but we did. I got
the bleeding stopped and put a bandage on.
We were a good ways away from a town, but when we got there, we
doctor who took better care of that injury.
We still had the turkey. It
wasn’t hunting season, but I don’t think we had any trouble about that.
I have a
ghost story. After Uncle John died, I
went back to the hotel to stay. Most of
my things were still at the house. I
had forgotten something I needed to wear for the funeral.
It was dusk, when I remembered, so I drove
out to the house. I parked in front,
and went in to get it. I had to turn on
the living room light, it was that dark.
As I started to my bedroom, the door knob slowly turned on Uncle
bedroom. The door opened just a bit,
and I left - jumped in my car and took off.
The next day Alba went with me to the house.
There was an outside door at the back of Uncle John’s bedroom,
and tire tracks in the side yard.
Someone had gotten in that door to rob the place.
So I had a burglar, not a ghost. I
guess he didn’t expect anyone to be there,
so I guess I scared him too.
died April 20, 1937. His services were
held at the Baptist Church where he was a member. Aunt
Bessie’s father had been a Baptist minister. Uncle
John is buried in a San Bonita
cemetery beside two of his sons.
son was named John. He was injured
playing high school football. His
kidneys were damaged. Aunt Bessie took
him all over the country trying to find a doctor to help him. He was never well. When
I knew him, he stayed in his room most of the time.
He must have still been in his 20’s when he
younger son was Edwin. He clerked at
the desk of the Hotel. A real likable
guy with lots of friends. Aunt Bessie
had always lived in Chattanooga, till she went to Texas about 1926. Edwin had a girlfriend in Chattanooga. Aunt Bessie wanted him to marry her. Edwin was dating a girl in the Valley (from
Brownsville to Edinburg is called the Lower Rio Grande Valley). Aunt Bessie was going on one of her many
trips to Tennessee with “Little” John, and she took Edwin’s car because
might make a handicap for Edwin and his dates.
Edwin was with a friend, in the friend’s car and there was an
accident. They were both burned to
death. It was difficult to identify
which was which. Edwin, too, was in his
twenty’s. Edwin and Alba were near the
Raymond. He and Dayton were about the
same age. Raymond had always gone away
to a private school. Aunt Bessie didn’t
think the Hotel was any place for a child to live.
Aunt Bessie decided that if I would agree, she would rent a
in San Antonio, hire a house keeper, and I would live there and look
Raymond. She would pay for me to go to
a Business school.
Uncle John died, the Dining Room Cashier and Hostess quit without
notice. Aunt Bessie asked me to take her
job - I
enjoyed it. I liked to be with people. I soon learned you must seat a waitress’
customers at their station or you will hear about it.
They were nice about it, and I tried to remember.
I took care of ordering all kitchen supplies
- after the requests were made. I also
paid those bills and kept records.
Menus were updated as directed by the chef.
It was a busy job and I didn’t have much free time.
Alba had asked me to go with him and
Virginia to Galveston Beach on their vacation.
That was before Aunt Bessie asked me to take the job. I had told Alba I would like to go - so I
told Aunt Bessie to try to find someone else.
I guess I only worked about 8 weeks.
I went to
Tyler, Texas where Alba lived and went with them back to Galveston
Beach. I got some rest and also had a lot
fun. After the vacation I went back to
Harlingen. Aunt Bessie had her other
three nieces come for a visit. Two
sisters, I only remember as Ted and Sis.
Ted was my age and Sis just a little older.
They were daughters of Aunt Bessie’s brother.
The other niece was Jerry. She was
the daughter of Uncle John’s
brother, Will. Will had died when Jerry
was a baby.
think I ever met Will. He was the
youngest of their family. I had always
heard about Will’s first wife, Maud.
She was so beautiful. They had
three children, Gertrude, Billie, and a boy.
The boy was run over by a street car when he was about 2 years
was killed. Sometime later, Maud
died. Will remarried, and Jerry was the
daughter of this marriage. There had
been a number of years between marriages, because Jerry was younger
than I and
Gertrude was married and had children when I was still a teenager. Jerry’s mother also died while Jerry was
still a baby and Jerry’s grandmother, her mother’s mother, raised her.
never met these girls before. We got
along fine and had a great time together.
Aunt Bessie still had Uncle John’s car and I had permission to
use it. We went to the beach at Padre
Island, to old
Mexico, played tennis, and even took a few tennis lessons.
We all felt sorry for Jerry. She
had her first menstruation period and
didn’t know what was happening. We
three tried to enlighten her on life’s little problems and a bit of the
and the bees. I must say we were poor
substitutes for the experts.
Jerry was born in Florida. Her father
died there. He worked on repairing
ocean vessels. He was working on a ship
when the coolant in the refrigeration unit was released and the
into his bloodstream, causing his death.
Jerry’s grandmother lived in Johnson City, Tennessee, so that is
she was raised.
few weeks together, Aunt Bessie took us all back to Tennessee. I don’t remember Raymond being with us. He was probably in Tennessee and Aunt Bessie
would take him back to Texas. I
remember Aunt Bessie being upset with Sis.
We had passed a skunk that had been run over and the odor was
awful. Sis said it made her sick at her
she had Aunt Bessie stop. Sis got out
and gagged a bit but really wasn’t sick.
Sis wasn’t as agreeable as the rest of us, and I think she upset
Bessie every once in a while. Ted,
however, was a super gal. I liked her
very much. I guess it was a year later
that Ted was diagnosed as having tuberculosis.
Aunt Bessie paid for her to live in a sanatorium in Kerrville,
Texas. She did recover.
wasn’t too much summer left, but I was at Georgia’s some.
Aunt Bessie’s sister lived in Chattanooga,
so she stayed with her. With Georgia
and Aunt Bessie in the same place, my enjoyment of the favors of both,
alert at all times. I’m not sure if I
went back to Texas with Aunt Bessie or not.
I think I went back on the train.
was back in Texas before school started for Raymond.
He went to the Peacock Military Academy in San Antonio,
Texas. Aunt Bessie had rented a house
about two blocks from the school. Mrs.
Daniels was to be our housekeeper. Mrs.
Daniels was the head of housekeeping for the hotel.
She was there when I went to school in Harlingen, so I knew and
liked her. If ever I was spoiled, Mrs.
Daniels spoiled me. She was an
excellent cook and delighted in my enjoyment of her cooking. She had meals to fit my schedule.
She kept the house in perfect order and left
nothing for me to do. She did my
washing and ironing. She welcomed my
friends and supported every direction I gave to Raymond.
It was a wonderful life, and it was mine.
in Draughns Business College in downtown San Antonio.
Our house was on a corner and the bus stopped there. I rode the bus to and from school. I studied short hand, typing, bookkeeping
and spelling. One of my teachers must
have just read: “How to Win Friends and
Influence People”. He kept elaborating
and talking about that book as a way to get ahead.
I met my
friend Beano there. She was living in a
boarding house, “La Casa”, a few blocks from the school.
There were lots of nice kids at the school,
but only Beano became my special friend.
I don’t know how Beano met these fellows, perhaps through her
sister - but she went with a fellow named Bob, who taught math and was
football coach. His friend was named
Bernie, who was a High School Principal.
I was introduced to him and he became my boy friend. There was a third one named Ray, and he was a
science teacher. He dated a girl named
Jane. I only saw Jane when we all went
couples had a lot of fun together. Many
weekends we went dancing. This was what
we call the “Big Band Era”. They all
came to San Antonio: Guy Lombardo, Glen
Miller, Harry James, etc. There were
dances at the hotels and a night club; all were nice places.
went ice skating. There was a nice ice
skating rink in San Antonio. Ray had
more trouble than the rest of us. He
was tall and what I call lanky.
Sometimes I would help him go around the rink.
We were certainly a Mutt and Jeff - short and tall - couple. Sometimes his long legs went every way but
the right way. I’m sure several were
amused by us.
we would have a picnic - sometimes a cookout, and sometimes we took
food. There were a number of
interesting places to visit around San Antonio. It’s
a beautiful city.
a high school boy that lived next door to us.
He had a sail boat, and there was a nice lake almost next to
school. I can’t remember the boy’s name
- but he took me sailing several times.
His was a small boat, and I was forever forgetting to duck when
when I was coming home on the bus, I saw Raymond in the school yard
something I had told him not to do. I
don’t remember what it was - but I know I confronted him with it. He never found out how I knew.
He thought I had some super power. He
was really a good boy. I really felt sorry
for him. He never had a chance to live the
life of a
real boy. I tried to do a lot of things
with him, like go to the parks and zoo, - the movie and ice skating. I encouraged him to do things with his
friends. The school had activities and
I always attended anything that was for the parents or the public. I helped him with his studies - he was a C
& B student.
Now that I
couldn’t go to a movie for free, I went more often.
Doesn’t make me very smart.
An usher recognized me from school in Harlingen.
I didn’t remember him. We would
talk a bit and he asked me to go
out with him. I went with him once, but
I had more fun when I went with Bernie.
was going to be at the theater. For
advertising, they gave out an item that looked like a free pass. I had one and that’s what I thought. Lots of people thought the same thing. The theater took out a full page newspaper
ad to tell people they were not free passes.
I did go to see Bob Hope - that was early in his career and I
then, and I like him now.
I went home
to Tennessee for Christmas. When I came
back to San Antonio, my world had changed.
A lady had asked Aunt Bessie to let her keep house for us, and
Bessie would still buy the groceries, pay the rent, etc., but the lady
not get a salary. She and her daughter
would live there and the daughter would go to business school. The daughter was named Millicent.
I don’t remember the last name. Now
the meals were served on her schedule,
whether I was there or not. I did my
own, and Raymond’s washing and ironing, cleaned my room, and some of
work. The cooking left much to be
desired. She constantly had
unflattering comments about how I looked, where I went, what I did.
rode the bus to school with me, but she wasn’t in any of my classes. I guess because of her mother, I never gave
myself a chance to know Millicent.
One time I
did look awful - whatever Millicent’s mother said would be true. Someone at school told me that when you
rinsed blond hair with buttermilk, it gave it a shine that was
beautiful. I had a date to go dancing with
the others, so I thought I’d make my hair shine and rinse it with
buttermilk. I did it, and Oh! it was awful. It was a greasy mess. I
tried to wash it out, but it wasn’t
helping. I was running out of time, so
I had to get dressed and go. All
evening I was asked: “What did you do
to your hair?” I felt so stupid, I
never did admit, I just said it needed to be washed and I didn’t have
more time after school with Beano. I
would go by “La Casa”, sometimes before I went home.
I got to know several of the girls there and enjoyed them.
Bessie had written me and said she wanted to go on a trip west as soon
Raymond was out of school. She said she
had bought a new car, and she wondered if I knew how to drive a car
stick shift. It was a big fancy car
with all the latest - cruise control. I
really didn’t know what she was talking about, but I said “sure I can”. Down at La Casa, a girl named Honey had a
boyfriend with a car like that, so I got him to show me and let me
car. Of course it was easier than the
Submitted by Richard Bloss
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February 27, 2005