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Things went along well for Mom and Dad for several years. Dad would fish and Mom would keep house and participate in church doings. She even got him a walkie-talkie in case he got in trouble on the lake. In 1972, Dad had a physical and a lung tumor was found. As he was taking medication for his heart condition, a medication conflict occurred between that the medication for the tumor. Dolores, Paige, Ellen, and myself flew down to see them in 1973 in my Cherokee 235 plane. Dad had also been in a car accident about that time and had been bruised, but not bad injured. We had a great visit and it was while we were there that Dad told us about his tumor. He said the conflict of the medications was not resolvable and that he would have to take one or the other, hoping that the right one would help him live the longest. We left to go back to New Mexico with heavy hearts. Our fears where that we might not see him again. I know that Mom had a very tough time mentally knowing that she was going to lose Dad before long. Sure enough, Dad passed away on March 15, 1975(per Florida death index) We boys flew down for the services and spent some time afterwards trying to find some way to help Mom. She seemed very composed all during the services. I suspect that she had cried herself out before we got there. She told us that she was OK and that we should go on home. We left with mixed emotions. For the next year, Mom was not able to cope, she admitted later. She seldom went to church, did not go out unless Fran came up from Miami to take her out to eat. It was a real tough time. Fran took her on a trip to Mexico to see if a change in scenery would help. It might have done some good. About a year after Dad’s passing, she woke up one morning and decided that she had to do something. She got dressed and went to town to seek employment. She went to a realtor’s office that she had met a church, and ask him what she needed to do to get a job with him. He told her that she needed to attend realtor training school to get a salesman’s certificate. She did and came back and he gave her a job. During this time frame she even studied Spanish. Now, it just so happens that she was uniquely trained for Real Estate. She had typed specifications for Dad in Midland for the houses and buildings that he designed as an architect. She had been around building a lot with him learning a lot of the elements that go into a house and how they functioned. She had also gone with him to appraise houses that were to receive a VA mortgage and helped prepare them for submittal.. She was totally familiar with that process. She was a natural. Mom was able to be a success almost from day one. She knew how to show a home, how to look it over and find the things that needed fixing for an owner to sell it, and how to be honest about whether the home would be what a couple was looking for. She sharpened her skills, and began to hit the high volume levels. She was Salesman of the Quarter several times and hit the Million Dollar Producer once. She called me once and asked if I would like to have a fishing camp in Florida. She had one to sell and the price was only $1,000,000. I laughed and said that I was not in the market for a fishing camp. She eventually sold it. She had people calling her from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and other northern states saying that one of her previous clients had given them Mom’s name as THE person to call if they were planning to buy a vacation home in central Florida. She would set an appointment with them, take them around to see the houses closest to the ones they had described as wanting, and usually got a sale from them. At times she was unhappy because she was making too much money, and the government was taking away some of her retirement. For many years, she had an income above $20,000, sometimes over $30,000. We boys went to Florida for her 75th birthday in 1984. It turned out to be a Davis family gathering. Sisters, cousins, in-laws, out-laws, and all came. It was really good to see her doing so well and so happy. She had found that she was really, really good at selling real estate, with no small measure of thanks to living with Dad for so many years. I know he was proud of her. She continued selling real estate and we boys made each 5th birthday after that. Along about 1996, Mom began to have driving problems. The first ones we heard about was that she was occasionally knocking down mailboxes on the road to town. Not many, and she always paid to have them replaced. Then there were a few small fender-benders. None of these were life-threatening but they caused us boys a lot of concern. In May of 1995 Bill & Norma stayed with Mom a month. A good time was had by all and Mom was ready for us to leave. Bill cleaned up around the house and along the lake front of Fran’s house and cleaned an ant hive off of her roof. Both Mother and Fran seemed to enjoy the attention. Norma spent a lot of time grooming both. Over the next two years we often called and talked with mother and had a lot of laughs. In 1997, she had pneumonia. She was aware enough to call the doctor who had her admitted to the hospital. She improved enough to be change to a nursing home in Lake Placid. Now, Mom did not like nursing homes, period. She did not like the staff, the food, or the fact that she had to take physical therapy. She had become so weak in the hospital that she could hardly walk. John and I went to Lake Placid to see her and how she was doing. All in all, she was not doing badly, just that she did not like being in the nursing home. We talked long and hard trying to convince her that it was for her own best good. We came back home not real sure that she had accepted our argument. After about 45 days, she called me one day, and said “Charles, get me out of here! This is where people are put to die, and I am not ready!” I told her that I would come. I called John. He and Bill’s daughter, Charise, met me in Orlando to drive down to Lake Placid. We made our battle plans on the way. We got to Lake Placid and the next morning, we went to the nursing home. I arranged to get Mom discharged after they understood that Charise was part owner in a nursing home in Texas where we wanted to take Mom. John met me, Mom, and Charise at the nursing home entrance. We took her out in a wheel chair and very carefully loaded her in the car. She told us all “Thank you for getting me out there.” We took her to her home and explained the plan to her. She would be going to Texas with John and Charise to recuperate. John told me later that it was a real challenge taking her up to Orlando. They decided to spend the night in a motel and leave the next morning after she was rested. Even after resting overnight, Mom was still very weak. They barely got her through the terminal and into the plane. They had the same challenge when they got to Austin. Charise talked John into letting Nancy take her into one of their group homes. Mom stayed there for a short time and Nancy decided that it would work best if Mom moved into Nancy’s home. So she did and stayed a month. She began to slowly recover her strength. Martha and I went down to see her, for her birthday I think. She had recovered strength enough that John wanted to take her to his house in San Antonio. Mom went home with him and stayed there 6 months. He bought her a special stuffed chair that had a mechanical lift when she wanted to get up. He fed her the best food she had in months, pumped her full of vitamins, and helped her gain more strength. Martha and I talked John in letting us take her to New Mexico to live with us. She did come live with us and we continued the same food and vitamins that John had started. She continued to improve. We had an old white cat at that time and the cat took to Mom. She would jump up on Mom’s bed, in her lap when she was sitting in her stuffed chair, and just hung out with Mom. Mom was really happy with the cat. She would giggle when the cat would jump into her lap. Finally the day came when Mom said she wanted to go home. It took about 2 weeks before we gave in after talking it over with John and Charise. This was late summer of 1998. Bill and his newly adopted sons visited with her before she leftAlamogordo. She slowly warmed to new boys in the family. John and I took her back home. She seemed real happy to be back. We had carried a lot of vitamins with us and made her promise to take them every day. We have doubts that she did. I installed handicap grab bars in the bath room to make it easier to get up off the toilet, and one in the shower for safety. Finally, I went down to see her and helped her face the fact that she had reached the point where her eyes and physical ability were getting bad and that she needed to give up driving. I found a local woman who was willing to be a hired driver whenever Mom needed. I arranged for her to bill me for the hours she drove Mom around Lake Placid or to the doctor’s office in an adjacent city. I went home knowing that the downward physical spiral had started. In 1999, we boys went to Lake Placid for the 90th birthday. Mom was having a difficult time getting in and out of the car. We took her out to one of her favorite places to eat and had a great dinner. We spent some time reminiscing about how much she had meant to our lives, things we did together, some good, some bad, some downright funny. It was one of the best birthdays that I remembered with her. John, Bill, and I decided that we would make it every year from then on because it was not possible to tell how long she would last. In all of this, no where have we mentioned that Mom had three sons, but six daughters-in laws, all of which she loved dearly, knew their faults, as were as her sons, criticized none, and continued to correspond with all even when her sons marriages had broken up. She loved all her grandchildren and want to remain close to all and their mothers. We went back again in 2000 for Mom’s 91st birthday. She was looking frail but able to get around very slowly. We took her out do dinner again which she enjoyed. We also checked her vitamins and food. It looked like she was eating mostly grits and maybe oatmeal. We left, glad we came, but feeling troubled. She was obviously getting weaker and sooner or later we might have to come take her back to Texas again. Bill said she was having trouble placing him. At times she thought he was John. It made him very sad. More than once she would ask about Kelly or the house in the Keys. Well, we got a call on September 24st, I think, from the nursing home saying she was admitted and was possibly on her deathbed. We got to moving, all met in Orlando, and drove into Lake Placid about 11 PM. We talked about stopping at the nursing home, but as tired as we were, we hoped she was strong enough to last the night. We went to her house and crashed. About 1:30 AM, the nursing home called and said we had better come now. We threw on our clothes and got there as quickly as we could. It was not soon enough. She was already gone. We quietly entered her room and looked at her. She seemed peaceful, though there was a tear in one eye that I wiped with a tissue. Her granddaughters placed her false teeth in and combed her hair to make her presentable. We all stood around her bed to remember her. We left and went home and back to bed. We began making arrangements for services and burial next to Dad. We also began cleaning the house with a goal of having it cleared before we left at the end of the week. It was a testing time for us all. We had misunderstandings, conflicts, arguments, you name it. But, we got it all cleaned and the house was vacant when we left at the end of the week. Mom’s services were at the Church and we all remembered the things that she had done and the funny things we remembered. and there were about 20 people attending. Afterward, we went to the burial services and saw Mom and Dad together again. In 1967 John and Dottie, with daughter Kelley returned to the United States from their tour in Ecuador, and John was on his way to Vietnam. They were looking for a house in Ft. Lauderdale, were Dottie could continue teaching but be close enough to Mom and Dad if something happened. Also Aunt Fran would be close by. It was decided that Kelley would stay in Lake Placid so she could start school and Dottie and John could look for a house without being tied down to one area. This was great for Kelley cause she had someone who could help her with her home work, had a lake to swim in, and a teen age girl next door to teach her to water ski. In Nov 1967, John was hurt in Vietnam, and when Dottie was notified that he was hurt, but going to be okay, After having lost Elaine and Laural the year before, Mom and Dottie decided that they were not going to tell Dad until they were sure of his condition and knew that Dad could stand the strain, While Dad understood service to country and the reason for Vietnam, he was very emotional about his children having to serve. Mom was the same though she showed little emotion, and expressed no opinion, because she did not desire to start an argument. If the Army is what her sons choose, okay. She could not change it, but she did not particularly like it. Later, when John was assigned to Canal Zone, Mom and Dad visited. Dad assisted in raising John in the Masonic Lodge as a member of the degree team.. They were both impressed with the Masonic activity and the wonderful things they could buy.. Later they returned again to the Canal Zone for a visit, were Dad attended the York Rite Ceremonies with John and received a Degree that he did not have. After Dad died 1975 Mom returned to Panama to visit John and his wife, Denia and be at his installation as the Master of Ancon Lodge She well understood the importance of Masonry in the life of men and joyfully participated in those. Bill, John, and I left with our own thoughts about their lives, how they had given us a good chance in life with the education they wanted us to have. We all can say is that we are glad she was our Mother!
September 25, 2000 — Lake Placid, Florida
Charles E. Nolan, Jr. with add-ins by John and Bill Nolan
Born: September 4, 1909
Died: September 25, 2000
Birthplace: Valdosta, Georgia
Burial Location: Lake Placid, Florida
Father: Charles Henry Davis
Mother: Abigail Nancy Pike
Alice Nolan’s childhood in Valdosta, Georgia is not known, but her Grandfather was a meat cutter and grocer. It is thought that her father was also in that business. She seemed to have grown up in a family which was not poor. Pictures show her with riding cloths and good dresses.
Alice (Mom to me and my brothers) was raised in Valdosta in a family that had roots to the early settlers in Central Georgia (Effingham and Bulloch Counties) who came from England, Ireland and Scotland. Morven, Georgia, is a small town at a cross road, today, but was the migration location of the Davis clan.. Her Grandfather Emmett Henry Davis was a grocer and meat cutter in west Valdosta and had lived in Morvin as a meat cutter. He lived next the O’Neals whose oldest son remembered him. Sometime in her early life, the family moved to Miami, Florida, where her dad entered the retail grocery business, either as an employee or an owner. Pictures exist of two grocery stores. One is thought to be in Valdosta and the latter in Miami. He helped other family members enter the same business. The Davis family made trips back to Morven to the “Camp Meeting” that had been held each year since 1835. Members of several families came to this meeting to share their memories, go to church and to remember those who had passed on. The Pikes, Hendrys, Parrish, Halls, Edmonsons and Davis’all came to the camp meeting for a two week church revival because of a lack of preachers. The meeting became a yearly habit in October. Today it is less than a week. People came from as far north as Atalanta, from Augusta in the east, from Alabama in the west and south from Florida.On the way the Davis’ stopped in Ocala to hunt for food for the camp meeting and to visit with kin. In later years they would make hunting excursions to Ocala. A history of the Mt Zion Camp Meeting is included in the included disk. There are also burial list that is history itself.
At some point, her family was living near a family, one of whose sons became her husband. Mom did start a diary that has survived her, which was dated as being received in June, 1923, when she was 13 years old. She wrote on the front fly-leaf “Alice Now, Alice Forever. Davis Now, But not Forever. What then?” The diary, called “The Girl Graduate’s Memory Book” had specific sections for recording information about her high school, faculty, data about dreams, graduation, class members, events, autographs, and photographs. It does list her address as being 36 S. W. 20th Road, Miami, Florida and a comment about “Mr. Charlie Nolan, he’s nice!”Charlie lived next door and drove a Pierce Arrow. The dates of her attendance are listed as September 1923 to June 1926but no school identified. However, there is a commencement exercise invitation for May 31, 1926 at Elberton High School inserted in the pages of the diary. There was no card to indicate that it was hers or from a friend who graduated that year. In between other pages is a football ticket of a game between Key West High and Miami High. Other pictures and information make it clear that she attended Miami High School.
To review all of the diary would be a chore for a teenage great grand daughter.. It provides an interesting look at Mom as she was in high school. One tale, not in the diary, that she told us boys is that she and her girl friends would borrow her Dad’s Model T during the summer when watermelons were getting ripe. They would go out farm roads and when they saw someone working in a watermelon “patch” as they called them, the girls would stop and go into the patch to beg a melon. Usually, their begging was successful, and the farmer would offer to carry the melon to their car. They would not let him do that, as he would see that the car was full of melons that they had begged from others. When they had all they wanted, they would find a good place to eat the melons, and take them out of the car and drop them to crack them open. They would eat the heart out of one, then crack another. She loved watermelons, even when she was ninety plus.
Alice Nolan married Charlie E. Nolan on January 31, 1927 in Ocala, Marion, Florida. Their marriage is quite a story. She and dad married eight months after her graduation. She told of her marriage laughingly because it occurred rather quickly. She and Dad had been dating for a while (Some how I doubt this from seeing pictures of her dad)before she graduated. I guess after she graduated, their relationship got to the point that marriage was discussed and possibly decided. One day Mom was in the grocery store of a brother and happened to mention that she and Charlie Nolan were going to be married. Her brother laughed and told her that he really doubted it. He was so doubtful that he told her that if that married happened in the next thirty days, he would give them free groceries for a month. Mom evidently hurried to tell Dad. I am not sure how it happened but they got it all arranged and made it happen within the 30 days. Mom laughs when she tells how they would shop for groceries and get the best steaks and other good stuff. Her brother only complained that they were eating better than he was, when he went over for dinner.
During 1926, Dad was working with his father, Edward A. Nolan, architect, in Miami. It was about this time that Granddad went to Midland, Texas, to open an office,( too early for oil field growth, grand dad had an office in Tyler in 1930 and is in the census for that time. More than likely he wanted to be a big Texas Architect. His dad had been in Texas in the 1860s.) It is not known if Grandfather closed his Miami office. He invited Mom and Dad to come to Midland to work with him after they were married. They moved to Midland and got settled and Dad started working for his dad. Well, for some reason the oil growth failed to show up in Granddad’s office or Midland until after 1940.. He decided that it was a bad venture and closed the office and moved back to Tyler, leaving Mom and Dad there to work out their own future. Because of his background as an architectural draftsman, his experience as a building inspector for the City of Miami, and his experience working for electrical firms after he got out of the army (WW1), he applied to the City of Midland for a job. He was hired and did a variety of work. While that was not too bad, it turned bad after the 1929 stock market crash and the depression got serious. He was driving road graders, reading water meters, working as a power lineman, fireman, and what ever else he could do to keep his job with the City. He told me once that he was making about $50 a month. As we three boys were born and growing up, it became more difficult for him and Mom, and the rest of America.
Our house was very small, only one bedroom, living room, and kitchen, and the outhouse. The only heat was from an iron belly wood stove. When I grew old enough, I was expected to chop wood for the stove. I remember Mom heating her iron, to iron Dad’s shirts, on the stove, but I am not sure how she cooked.
On April 2, 1930 and October 18, 1931, first me and then brother John were born. About that time Dad added a kitchen to the back and changed the old kitchen into a bedroom for me and John. We had a cow that one of Dad’s friends had loaned to us. I think his name was Heavy Lester, the man not the cow.. He called Dad and told him that he was bringing a cow for us. Dad started to refuse but Heavy said those boys need milk. Just borrow the cow and return her when we were through with her. Dad milked the cow every morning and evening. Mom would put the milk in bottles that I, and later John, would deliver to neighbors for about 25 cents. Mom would keep enough milk for us and to churn into butter. She tried her best to feed us boys the best they could. We ate a lot of oatmeal for breakfast and many nights we had cornbread, milk and sugar for supper. Hot cornbread and milk with a little bit if sugar is really good. John and I did not know that times were hard. We looked forward to the cornbread and milk. Oatmeal, well, that was something we tolerated because there was nothing else. Once in a great while, we would have eggs, but not very often. Dad would buy chicks to raise. When they got grown, we had fried and roast chicken, often.
Our lot had enough room for a front yard that had room for us boys and two dogs to run and play in. There were 4 trees, one in each corner of the front yard. The house was located south of downtown Midland on Big Spring Street. The trees are important to this biography as that was the source of switches that Mom had us cut and bring to her when we had messed up and were in for some discipline, tree switch kind. One time John messed up some way, no memory of what,( we belive it was when he set fire to the wall paper that was stored under the chest in the bathroom , and the went outside without telling any one. Had Mom not smelled smoke and put out the fire, the house would probably burned down) and it resulted in a switching. Afterwards, John went out and sat on the back door stoop. Mom was at the kitchen window when she heard him mutter softly “Dammed old battle Ax!” She thought it was hilarious and almost laughed out loud.
Bill said the the name calling occurred in Lubock in 1951, but knowing John, it probably happened more than once,
Dad had joined the Masonic Lodge in Midland and it was probably natural that Mom joined the Eastern Star, a sister organization. She was active and participated in their meetings, though I am unable to recall when she attended. Mom was the Worthy Matron of Midland Chapter,# 253 of the Eastern Star in 1935, and Dad served as the Worthy Patron . Dad was also a Master of Midland Lodge 623 in 1936-37, and worshipful Master that year. A picture of the card is in the Mom picture file on disk.) She seemed to always be around for us boys, but she must have been busy in the church and Eastern Star.
On September 14, 1936, brother Bill was born. She never mentioned to me that she had hoped to have a girl as part of the family. But later said she had the name Suzzie picked and William and Kenneth were the doctors that delivered Bill. I remember Bill being a curious type who was into a lot of things. Once, when he was very young, he crawled onto the grille of the floor furnace and burned himself. After that, the word was “watch Bill”. (You did not mention Charles who used to play with the electrical switch that arced a spark when you closed it. Charles would put his finger in the arc and would gigle.) A baby swing was rigged in the door to Mom and Dad’s bedroom and Bill spent a lot of time in the swing as a way to keep him from causing himself harm..(We have pictures of mom with all three boys at the house in Midland)
Mom and Dad were members of the First Methodist Church. (We were all probably baptized there, but I can find no record.)They attended church regularly and took us boys along. I have scar on my forehead where I cut my head one Sunday morning when I stumbled on the church steps and hit my head. Mom was very active in the church and made many friends by her kind actions to help others. This was a cornerstone of her life. I’ll try to give some specifics as I go along. The time at the Mt Zion Church and Camp Meetings must have been imprinted on her life.
Mom and Dad almost never had arguments. I personally think it might have been that their birthdays were two days apart in September. The stars were perfect for both of them and they had a very happy marriage, from my view. They liked to do things together. They would take us boys out to the water farm where there was lots of grass to have a picnic. Before we were born, one of their Sunday events was to buy a gallon of root beer, take the rifle and some shells, and ride down the Rankin highway looking for and shooting jackrabbits. They kept count of successful shots by putting an empty shell in their pockets and when they got home, the one with the most empty shells was the winner. I don’t know what the winner won, but I suspect it might have been to have the loser cook dinner. (Mother was the Florida State rifle shot for her age at some point. I think the rifle was hers. It was a Windchester Pump 22 WRF 1890 model produced from 1890 to 1927 and sold for about $7.00. She could shoot the head off of a quail from the rear of a covey and continue on to the front. Both were good at shooting pack rats from the back door.) As far as what the winner won, what do you think caused all the kids. It surely wasn’t dinner.
They enjoyed the same friends and had many of them in Midland. One favorite was Dewey and Ophie Pope. We would go the Pope’s house and spend time with them. Ophie and Mom would get together to discuss Eastern Star activities or other subjects they had in common while Dad and Dewey played dominos. I remember going there many times. Many of Mom’s and Dad’s friends were member of the Masonic Fraternity and its affiliated associations. The Howes, Popes, McKees who were all close friends, and had proceeded Mom and Dad in the officers of their respective organizations. Their children were also our first playmates.
As I remember, Mom and Dad enjoyed excellent health. Dad lost his teeth in 1936 and had to get false teeth. This was probably because they could not afford to go to a dentist. But, I do not recall either of them being so sick that they could not take care of us boys.
Mom got a Singer sewing machine that replaced the old foot pedal type that she had. She made a lot of the clothes for us boys and dresses for herself. She would buy a pattern or sometimes make her own pattern, and make us shirts or a dress for herself. It was one way to save in those depression days. She used to complain about how fast John and I would wear out our shoes. Shoes for us cost about $5 a pair, which was a lot of money then. I think a lot of the time we played barefoot just to keep from wearing out our shoes. Shoes were one of the items that she could not sew.
At Christmas time, Mom and Dad went to great lengths to have some kind of special Christmas for us boys. Sometimes it was not very much. Other times it was great. I remember one Christmas when John and I got a wind-up train set. It was great to see it go around the track. Maybe the same Christmas or a year later, we got an electric train set. For some reason, we got it at a friends house, John Howe. I believe he was a plumbing contractor and was one of Dad’s best friends. He and Dad set up the train track and got the train going and played with it at first more than brother John and I did. We were a little put out with them for not letting us play with it sooner. After I completed the third grade, I had to go to fourth grade in a school that was across the highway downtown. That Christmas I got a bicycle, mostly so I had a way to get to school. There was no way they could use the car to take me every day because of the cost.
Sometime before I completed the fourth grade, Dad received a call from Granddad asking him to move to Miami and work for him. He had lots of work and needed help. Mom and Dad talked it over for quite a while and finally decided to do go. ( R.B.(Bum) Cowden even offered them a 180 acres of land to stay. They said it wasn’t worth enough for them to stay. Big mistake!) After discovering that they could not sell their house because it had been built on the wrong lot, they packed all they could and us boys in their 1936 yellow Chevy and we headed to Miami. Even though I was 9 at that time, I do not remember very much about that trip. I remember staying in a tourist court one night in Louisiana and crossing the Mississippi river bridge, but that is about all. It probably took three days or so. Bill said that all he ever remembered on Florida trips was the Mississippi River Bridge and the Vicksburg Battlefield. He wishes that he had known then what he knows now about those battlefields from Mississippi to Florida.
After we got to Miami, Dad started working while Mom stayed home and looked after us boys. John and I were enrolled in school. Bill was about 4 and was home with Mom. We stayed in Miami for just about one year. If my memory is correct, we lived in an upstairs apartment on 33rd Street. There was a vacant lot next door that had the largest mulberry tree around. We boys would climb the tree and swing from limb to limb. The limbs were long and limber. We could even swing down to the ground. We would gather mulberries when they were ripe and Mom would make a cobbler. We also had clothes that had a lot of mulberry stains on them which caused Mom extra work to wash. Bill fell off the upstairs porch, but the mulberry limbs and branches kept him from hitting the ground. Mom herd his schreeching and came to pull him out. There is a picture of mom, Aunt Edith, Aunt Eleanor Milby, Bill Nancy and probably Little Bob. At the beach.
After about a year or so, Dad and Granddad had an argument and Dad and Mom decided they would go back to Texas. Dad found out about a job in Fort Worth with the Federal Housing Administration. He put together his application, submitted it, and got a job that provided the reason to go back to Texas. Both Mom and Dad had swell pictures from that time frame. Dad must have needed a picture to go with the application. In 1941, we headed back to Texas. We have little recollection of that trip.
In Fort Worth, Dad and Mom found an apartment in the south part of town at 2619 S. Jennings Street, just a block or two north of Hemphill Blvd and near TCU. John and I got back in school and Bill soon went to George Clark Elementary. The apartment was a two story building. We lived on the ground floor and another family lived upstairs. The apartment was pretty spacious compared to our Miami apartment. There was a back yard where we could play. And a garage for two cars with a dirt floor. Bill found two Civil War rifles in that dirt floor, but Mom made him give them to the Children’s Museum of Ft Worth. There were China berry trees in the front yard and John and I and some neighbor boys would have berry fights, throwing them at each other. Dad got active in the Masons again, but I don’t remember Mom going back to the Eastern Star meetings. Bill should have learned all that was needed to be a Mason, because Mom would go some place and Bill would have to stay in the car with dad as he taught Masonry. It did not help Bill.
We went to church at Matthews Memorial Methodist Church on Hemphill. Generally, we all went to Sunday School, then to church services after that. John, Bill, and I would sit with Mom and she usually separated us so that the ones who were usually fighting would not be together. If we got a little restless, she had a smooth way of reaching back on the top of the pew behind us and pinching the be-jeepers out of the one acting up. She would not even turn her head to look at us, just gave her best impression of listening to the preacher. When I got old enough, I joined the youth choir to escape those fingers.
We lived in south Fort Worth until about 1943 when Dad and Mom bought a house in the west part of Fort Worth at 4313 Alamo Street. The house had about 900 square feet and had two bedrooms, a bath, kitchen and combination living-dining room, and an attached garage. I believe they paid $3,750 for it. One incident I will not forget. On the day they went to sigh the loan papers and take ownership, John and I got into a fight in the dining area and one of us kicked a hole in the wall sheetrock. We both caught fireworks over that. We lived in that house until 1948. Around 1946 mother had her teeth removed. I can remember riding the bus with her to south side to a dentist who had been Roosevelt’s personal dentist. He did such a good job, she had little trouble over the years.
I enrolled in Stripling Junior High and John and Bill went to South High Mount Elementary until John was old enough to go to Stripling. In 1945, I entered the ninth grade at Arlington Heights High School. During WW2 but there was rationing of gas, beef, and other staples that were scarce as a lot of food was being shipped overseas. Dad contacted the people who owned the vacant lot next door and got permission to plant a “Victory” garden. He borrowed a mule and a plow and gave me and John a lesson in plowing then said “Go to it!” John and I plowed and got it ready to plant. (Never forget the day the mule decide he wanted to run. One of you was up front and away the mule went. Almost killed us.) Dad planted a real garden with all kinds of veggies. Mom got the job of canning them as they got ripe. She organized the process, got a pressure cooker, a bunch of jars and lids, and started the canning process. I do not know if she had ever done it before, but she did it like it was old stuff to her. Never a doubt of how to put up black-eyed peas, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, squash, and all of the rest, including okra. About the only way us boys would eat okra was when it was battered in cornmeal and fried. Never boiled, never! Until mom took Bill to south Texas and he met Gumbo.
Dad made friends with some people in the construction supply business that he encountered while doing inspections on houses in Fort Worth. One was Ray Baldwin who owned a ceramic tile supply business. Mom and Dad would go to Ray and Bessie’s house once in a while. They had a big house and we really enjoyed it. They had one son and two daughters. The son was about the age of John and me, so we would get together and play like teenagers do. Ray had a fishing camp house at Possum Kingdom Lake about an hour west of Fort Worth.(In his Packard not our Dodge.) Mom and Dad and us boys made several trips to Ray’s fishing camp. It was not a big place but nice. There were cabins nearby that we stayed in. Cold? I do not think I have ever been colder. Mom got to sleep on the folding cot while Dad and us three boys slept on blankets on the floor. When one would turn over, all would have to move. We got to do some fishing, but I think we played more than we fished. –Never could understand how we boys always needed to go to shore and Mom never did. Maybe it was the scorpions we found under the rocks. We also used to go to Lake Worth fishing and swimming, and one night dad said we should try to see who could stay down the longest. I think dad stayed down over 4 minutes and mom was fit to be tied. She was mad at him for scaring all of us. The Baldwins would come over to our house to play canasta. One night Carolyn and Bill were playing on the front porch and mother pointed to the street. Everyone but Bill looked to the street, while she slipped three cards off the top of the discard pile. All Bill got was a wink.
While living in the Alamo Street house, we continued to go to church at the Matthews Memorial Methodist on Hemphill Street across town. Dad always stayed home and cooked on Sundays, and it was a joy to get back and find cornbread and the drippings from the chicken. Mom probably wanted him to go, but she let him stay home.) In retrospect, Mom was the guiding force for the family and Dad was disciplinarian. She also was the one who kept the house clean, took care of washing laundry and ironing, when it was needed. She sewed some but there did not seem to be too much need that I can remember. Funny the oldest looses his memory first..
DuringII years,there was a lot of rationing of food. Meat was rationed and there were small round red ration dots about the size of a button that were given to the butcher when meat was purchased. I believe Mom was allowed to purchase only so many dots each month. Dad had similar restrictions on the purchase of gasoline. I remember that he had a sticker on his windshield that allowed him a little more gas as he was a federal employee of the Federal Housing Administration. He needed the gas to go around town and Texas making inspections on houses that were under construction. We all learned to drive going on trips with dad to Mineral Wells and Abliene. Mom never got to go because she was always taking care of us boys.
During WWII Margarine was used instead of butter, and it was white and came with a little package of yellow dye that was hand mixed to make it look like butter. Mom’s early days in Midland made her an expert in getting by on minimum food resources. The victory garden made up much of our vegetables. Us boys always took our lunch to school in a paper sack. Mom would make us two sandwiches, one with a slice of lunch meat, mustard, lettuce, and tomato and the other peanut butter. Sometimes it was margarine on bread sprinkled with sugar. Not much, because of rationing and the poor starving kids in China. Sometimes we would have an apple or orange. She was a whiz at making desserts. We had lots of jell-o based deserts. One of my favorite jell-o dishes was lemon flavored jell-o with grated carrots and crushed pineapple. As I seemed to be the only one interested, she taught me how to cook a little. One dessert that I liked to make was crème puffs. Later after we were grown, John became the family member most interested in cooking. (After we grew up, we found that we boys all knew how to cook, at better than survival level.
I started dating in high school and Mom never did question my on my choice of dates. I never had very many choices. I believe the only concern they had was when I began to drive. Dad had taught me enough about cars for me to be able to get our car running if I had a problem, which was very rare.
It is amazing how mothers are always doing the things ahead of the time when they are needed. Our school clothes were always clean and ironed. Our school lunches were made and packed in a paper sack every school day. Our Sunday best was always clean for us to wear on Sunday to church. It was something that we took for granted, never realizing that Mom was behind all of the preparations that were needed. Our high school days were like most teenagers, we were interested in two things. One was ourselves, and the other was sports and girls. Dad joined the Shrine in Ft Worth and his fees were paid for by Jim Voss and Ray Baldwin as a gift because he had taught them their Degrees and help them enter Masonry.
After graduating from high school in 1947, I worked in a construction laborer job for the summer, saving money for college. Dad and Mom had told us boys long before that we were going to college. I had initially chosen A&M but, the spring before I graduated, there has a bad hazing incident that badly injured some students. Dad told me that A&M was out, and to pick another college. I chose Texas Tech. I think it was because my school counselor had a catalog from Tech and knew that they had an architectural degree. In late August or early September, Dad and Mom drove me to Lubbock. They helped me find a room and board and to get around the college to enroll. The day came that they dropped me off to enroll and drove back to Ft. Worth. Being on my own for the first time was a little daunting, but I eventually found my way around and began my studies for becoming an architect.(They probably introduced you to the church or the Methodist student union)
When Dad and Mom went back to Ft. Worth they evidently discussed money and how they would support not only me but John when he would graduate and start to college. One of Dad’s co-workers at the FHA was an architect. He resigned his position and opened an architectural office in Pampa, Texas, I think in 1945. Sometime in 1948, this architect, Royal Cantrell, offered Dad a job as a draftsman in the Pampa office, with enough of an increase in salary over the FHA job that Dad and Mom ended up moving to Pampa. When I got ready to come home for Thanksgiving that year, they advised me by phone, that I was to come to Pampa, not Ft. Worth. So, I hitch-hiked to Pampa for Thanksgiving. From then on for the next two years, my holidays were by thumbing a ride to Pampa. One Christmas, it was with other Tech students that I had met who were from Pampa. The first summer in Pampa, I worked on a gas pump station south of Pampa. The next summer I worked on a construction project in Borger, Texas.
Dad’s fortunes continued to improve. In 1949, he was offered a position as Chief Architect in the new FHA office to open in Lubbock. Needless to say, that was a great offer and he and Mom moved to Lubbock that summer. I moved out of the dorm that I was living in to live in an apartment on 34th Street with Dad, Mom, and my brother. John stayed in Pampa in 1949-50 to graduate. Mom and dad drove to several Pampa High football games. We lived there not quite a year when Dad and Mom were able to buy a new house on the corner at 2620-41st. Street and Boston Avenue. They lived there until 1966. ( I think that this was also about the time that Mom brought home certificates from the Womens Temprance Union for us to sign that we promised never to drink alcohol) Maybe she should have signed. If I remember right, one night we were all standing around at the heating register and Mom decided to teach us the Charleston. She said she was a flapper from way back. After a few wild steps she caught her heel in the floor register and down she went. He vanity was severely bruised. That was her last dance demonstration.
About this time we went on the last family trip, to Clarinda, Iowa to see Dad’s sister. The trip was fun, the snow was great, etc, and the Craigs, our in-laws were great. But with dad ailing, mother drove back from Iowa and put the fear of God in all of us. The weather was snowy all the way from Iowa to Plainview, just north of Lubbock. She drove fast and we would all cover our heads when she went around a curve. It was hard to believe that we made it back with all the mean looks we got from the rear view mirror.
We boys lived on 41st Street until we married or went into the military. In 1955 dad was forced to resign from the FHA when Eisenhower became President. He always said he was fired by Ike. He opened his own architectural office and did VA appraisals to get by until it got going. Mother was in a church study group and assisted dad in the office. We converted the garage into an office and built a garage on the back of the lot. Mom continued to be a mom. John was finishing up Tech and Bill Was starting high school. For some reason John stayed out of trouble. Bill grew up with his MYF group and none really dated, except John would always try to date one of the queens. Bill’s church group would meet at someone’s house on Sunday night after church and dance the new rock dances and swing. One Mint Julep was a favorite. Only at the senior level did Bill have dates, but only for the dances. Mon knew everyone in the MTF group and wrote to them for years.
During this time, Mom and us boys attended church at St. John’s Methodist Church on College Avenue and 15th Street. I sang in the choir and taught a Sunday school class of 8th graders. Mom was very active in the Women’s group. She received a Life Membership for the work she did in service to others. She did not work other than to take care of Dad and the house. They did pay social security for her secretarial work so she would be able to have more income after Dad died. It also gave Dad, a tax write off.
Mom and Dad loved to play canasta. They became good friends with Percy and Mary Williams, a contractor who Dad designed houses for. They also played with the Bertsch’s who lived next door. Weldon was the manager of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Plant where John worked one year, and Bill worked forever.. They spent many weekends playing canasta and scrabble together. By 1964 all of us boys had graduated Tech and John and Bill were in the Army, and married. Bill started Tech in 1955 and was on his way in architecture. On May 19, 1956, Bill and three other boys went to Clovis, New Mexico, to get booze to celebrate Tech getting into the Southwest Conference. Coming back the car was stopped and all taken to the police station in Lubock. The driver was tentatively booked and the rest released. The next week all were called into the Dean of Men’s office and were told that we were going before the discipline board but that probation would be recommended. In front of the board, we were told that the recommendation had been suspension. We were all speechless. Bill went home and told his mother who knew nothing of the event. Bill wanted to fight the suspension. Mother said, “No!”. We would not fight the suspension because one of the Church Deacons was on the discipline committee. A couple of days later Bill went into the Army. Mother’s beliefs had cost Bill at least a year of school and more than that in peer equality. Charles and John understand the year group game, but we also understood the commitment of our Mother to her church.
About this time Mother let the commander at Ft Benning, Georgia have a piece of her mind. She called him and said her wayward son had not written her for some time and she was very concerned. The General said he would correct that problem. John called with in minutes. It seems he had herd from the General. Of course we all know today, the General probably had a good laugh.
About this time Dad had a mild heart attack and was told to slow down. In 1965 he closed his office and was in need of something to do. The doctor told him that he had to close his architectural practice and retire. He spent several months in bed at home to recover. To help him pass the time, Mom moved the TV into their bedroom. That worked pretty well. On one trip that Dolores and I made to visit them, we discovered there was a problem. When a program would come on that Dad did not like, he would have to yell at Mom to come change it to something else. He was bad about changing pretty often and Mom would get a little peeved at having to go change the TV so often. Dolores and I talked it over in private and went to Sears and bought a small TV that had a remote changer. We took it home and relocated the old TV and installed the new one with the remote. It solved the problem and peace was restored.
It is not possible to know how much effort that Mom made in taking care of him. She loved him with all her heart and it was pretty obvious that seeing him decked by the heart problem was heavy on her heart. That he survived is in large part due to her love and support.
I had married in 1952 and had an architectural office in Alamogordo in 1966. My wife, Dolores Howell Nolan, and I became proud parents of twin girls in March 1966. We already had two girls, Paige (8 years old), and Laurel (6 years old), so we were big time in the girl-raising business. When the twins were 4 months old, Dolores took them to Amarillo to show off to her parents, the grandparents. Then she took them to Lubbock to show of to my parents, the other grandparents. Then she and her aunt who lived in Lubbock drove to Sweetwater to show off to another aunt. On the way back to Lubbock, Dolores was involved in a bad wreck about 30 miles from Sweetwater. I will not detail it very much. Dolores had bruises and a cut forehead. Paige had a broken left femur. Laurel had bad head injuries. One twin, Elaine, lived only a few hours after the accident. The other, Ellen, was badly injured with two broken legs and undetermined head injury.
Ellen received emergency surgery on her head but the neurosurgeon said that her brain was too badly damaged and she died.
As I was still in Alamogordo when this occurred, Mom and Dad were notified of the accident and called me to let me know. They both were crying when they called, so I knew it was bad. I got in my car and drove all night to get to Sweetwater, arriving about 4 AM. Mom and Dad were there helping Dolores as best anyone could.
To sum this up, with the help of Mom’s sister, my Aunt Francis Harp and her Piper Apache, we were able to relocate Paige and Ellen to Lubbock to Methodist Hospital, fly to Alamogordo for funeral services for the two girls we had lost, and go back to Lubbock to return Mom and Dad and check on the two girls there. Mom and Dad were rocks that we leaned on emotionally and physically. Dolores stayed there to look after the girls and I returned to Alamogordo to work, as if I could. Mom drove Dolores to the hospital for the better part of two months, provided a bed for her, fed her and nurtured her in the tough days of recovering from the accident. I was not there but I know this is what she did.
Prior to the accident, Mom and Dad had been discussing possibly moving to Florida. She had talked on the phone to Aunt Fran about it. Fran offered information on a vacation home owned by her corporation in Lake Placid, Florida. She said that it was vacant and was not being used by employees for vacation. Fran told Mom and Dad to come to Florida and move into that house and live. It was on a nice lake where Dad could fish. All that Fran asked was that they keep it up. They had made up their minds to go before the accident occurred. They did not mention it until after the girls were released from the hospital and I was able to get them back to Alamogordo. Mom and Dad called one night to tell us that they had decided not to go to Florida so they could be near if we needed them. Dolores and I told them that they should go, that the girls were doing as good as could be expected and that we did not want them to end their retirement in Lubbock when they really wanted to be in Florida. They resisted, but finally gave in and decided to go. They rented their house for twice their monthly payments and moved in the fall of 1966.
At the time, they had a nice second hand Lincoln to make the trip in. I do not know for a fact, but I suspect they sold most of their furniture, rented a U-Haul for the rest, and took off to Florida. They left a lot of the furniture in the house to rent it. Renters broke into the store room and rand sacked the place and took a lot of our school stuff and some old Army uniforms were lost. Bill,Norma and I helped clean up the house to sell it about 1974. We have pictures of the house. From information that Mom told me, they had quite a time in cleaning their new home. It had not been occupied for some time. Dad replaced some Jalousie windows in the back porch that was closed in. He installed a new window air conditioning unit in the only bedroom. The kitchen needed a lot of work. I think they lived with it as is for awhile until they got a handle on their expenses. As some point, they replaced the kitchen cabinets and made it a much better kitchen. This work was done in the time period from 1966 to 1968 or 1969. Mom worked on finding some used furniture for the living room, dining area, and a sleeper-sofa for the back porch part of the bedroom. Dad went fishing a lot on the lake behind the house. They ate a lot of fish, but that saved a lot of money. Also, Dad really knew how to cook fish. They both started attending church at the Lake Placid Methodist church. I am not sure of the church name. They got to know a lot of the people in Lake Placid from attending church. Mom began attending the Methodist Women’s group. She had always been active in the Women’s group at St. John’s Methodist in Lubbock. As she got to know more of the women there, she found more opportunities for service. She got to know one elderly lady who was blind. Mom began to help her by picking her up once a week and taking her to the local grocery store. She would assist where she was needed to find specific groceries or canned goods, help checking out, and load the groceries in the car, and take her home. This went on for years until the little lady died. John was there visiting once and Mom introduced him to the little old lady. At that time she happened to be wearing a pair of tennis shoes. From then on, John teased the “little old lady in tenny shoes”. She always giggled when he would call her that. They had several neighbors along the lake and some who only came in the summer. Dad would cut all his neighbors lawns and a few more. He helped build fishing piers and docks. They both puttered in the yard with dad grafting all kinds of fruits on base native trees and raising two avacotos in the back. He also planted some very small pine trees and we all saw them grow into giants.