unknown — Burbank, California
Our mother - Lucy Methesmith or Messersmith Sharpe
A WORD PORTRAIT
Lucy Methesmith Sharpe was born in the little town of Waynesboro, Franklin County, Pennsylvania on 2 September 1878, the fourth child of Moore Irwin Sharpe and his wife Catherine Rebecca Johnson. The name Lucy came from (?) the name Methesmith was the name of Catherine’s best friend.
The first years of Lucy’s life were spent between Waynesboro where her father was employed by the Frick Manufacturing Shops, doing carriage black smithing, the other time were with grandmother and grandfather Johnson in St Thomas, a village twenty miles away.
Lucy was always considered the prettiest and most talented of the daughters. her father had carried her to the presbyterian church as a very small child to the baptized, she always had strong religious background and convictions. All the Sharpe children were highly intelligent. Each of the nine brothers and sisters graduated from a college or university and each went on to become a teacher, principal, lawyer or judge.
In 1885, the Sharpe family with the seven children came via train to Hampton, Iowa to make a new home. Father had been assured by his wealthy widowed sister that money rally did grow on trees in Iowa. Lucy was seven at the time and soon adjusted to the new life. Besides attending regular public school she was kept bury in Mrs. Simplots Sewing School for girls and home sewing, taking elution lessons, as well as singing lessons for her fine, clear soprano voice, plus all the church activities of that era.
Whenever a storm or tornado was approaching, the family would take refuge in the cellar because neither mother or father Sharpe had experienced such weather where they lived previously. They were most fearful or these episodes of harsh weather. The children alway touched the big locked Bible for reassurance of safe keeping during the storms. Father Sharpe kept the key of this large Bible hidden safely away, as this was the Bible with all births, marriage, and deaths recorded. Once when father and mother were away, the children dashed to the safety of the cellar as usual. Suddenly Lucy produced the forbidden key. She read the story of Jezebel out loud and showed the Bible pictures. Pretty heady stuff. The brothers and sisters sworn to secrecy, never disclosed this information to the parents.
While attending High School, Lucy lived with a doting aunt in Hampton. Life was fun and easy there. She was a good student and good grades came easy. To help finance each child’s college education, each contributed to the college fund every week. Sometime it would only be a dime or a quarter depending on how much had been earned the previous week. After college graduation, then a portion of the salary was sent home regularly so that the next one in line could get their higher education. This continued until all were educated.
Lucy’s parents moved to Iowa Falls and she entered Ellsworth College. While there she met a fellow student, Carl Jerry Bremmer, who later became her husband. Lucy was popular in college, alway ready to give an elocution reading or singing for groups.
She was five foot tall, green eyes, light brown hair with a reddish tinge, always slim (weighed about 115) and had a good figure. She was very stylish in her clothes as she had a great talent for sewing. this ability came from her mother who had been a tailor as a young woman in her father’s tailoring shop back in St Thomas, Pennsylvania. Lucy could design and make clothes, if necessary out of old clothing that made one look like a fashion plate. In later years, her kids were always the best dressed in school.
After Lucy and Carl married, and had their first child, LeRoy Farland. Carl’s parents decided for the good of all, the young couple should move onto one of the Bremmer owned farms, near Sibley, Osceola County, Iowa. Carl was not cut out to be a farmer and had early on decided not to farm. As a result of this Lucy assumed the responsibility of managing the farm. She hired two men to work the place, she ran the home, raised a garden, kept chickens, sold eggs and all the other work that was the lot of a farmer’s wife. Besides caring for the three children (LeRoy, Russell, Glee) that were born in the next fur years, she wrote local news columns for three weekly county newspaper. What a life this must have been for a “town girl.”
In 1905, Carl and Lucy left the farm and moved back to Iowa Falls. Carl got a job with the railroad and Lucy was happy to leave the drudgery of the farm life and to be closer to her parents, brothers and sisters.
Carl and Lucy moved to Des Moines for a short time, then Carl was transferred to Fort Dodge. The family reside there for many years and Carl worked for the Minneapolis, St Louis Railroad.
Carl had become a drinker in his college days, more so during his escapades from the farm life. This continued on throughout Lucy’s married life. Carl was never cruel or dangerous during these bouts, just a “good Joe”, “everyone’s friend” but causing the family great embarrassment and made to suffer financial losses many times. In 1924, Lucy desiring a change from this life, she divorced Carl.
Even though Lucy and Carl were divorced, neither one married again. I am sure if ether had been interested, they could have easily done so. On one occasion a man from our church wanted to come courting Lucy, she tried to discourage him but he insisted. Lucy warned that her children were night owls, stayed up late, never going to bed without her. He asserted that he could out sit anyone. So there sat three children (me, Lucille and Earl) in the living room (obnoxious), coached before hand by Lucy not to fall asleep At long last the would be suitor got the message and left, he never came back. After that we returned to our early bed time routine.
Lucy alway considered herself the wife of Carl, and after his death, she called herself his widow.
After the divorce Lucy went back to college and received a degree in business from Tobin College, she went to work for Shipley Dry Goods Store. The three younger children, at home were in school.
In early 1927, Lucy decided to move to Sioux City (a wise choice), her older sister Annie William lived there and they always been close. Lucy went to work for Stoup/Schaefer’s at the Stockyard Restaurant. Hard work but she soon made many friends and go along well on the job.
First, we lived in an apartment on Jackson Street, just behind the Library (a good place to spend hours) but the apartment was really too small. Next we moved to 1019 Douglas Street into a town house, row type of houses. Lots of room and soon several of Lucy’s friends prevailed on her to care for their children so that the mother’s could work. Lucy agreed.
First came Bonita, daughter of a friend, next came the Gordon twins, Gloria (aggressive), smart and domineering, Gordon (shy), a slow learner and easy to control. We never knew how their mother heard about Lucy, but she was most grateful that her twins were in a good wholesome family situation, away from the house of ill repute where she worked. She and her pimp would drive up (always in a new car) bringing lavish gifts for all. We often wondered what became of the twins after Lucy left for California in 1930. The French boys came to live with us George and Gene. Their mother had been a former “Miss Sioux City” and didn’t wanted anyone to know about her boys. As boy go, those two kept Lucy alert at times. There were others, forgotten in the dim past, except for a baby sleeping in the clothes basket, packed along on the furniture van for the move to 823 Douglas Street.
This was a large house on a corner, close by the school for the children to attend. All went well, Lucy was busy all the time, until the Big Flood. *see
Winnifred Life Story for details*. Standing and looking at the mud filth, debris that had poured into the basement, Lucy decided that it just wasn’t worth it.
Lucy had been contemplating moving to California where her son Russell and daughter Glee lived, and now the time seemed right. Winnifred and Vernon had been talking of buying a home, for with two children plus Bonita, it was a logical thing for them to do. Lucy bought a car, held an auction sale of the beautiful marble topped furniture and antiques as she was determined to make a new life in Los Angeles.
In 1930, the big trek to California got under way. Vernon’s brother Percy, unemployed offered to drive the car. Lucy with children (Earl, Lucille), Wilma French with her tow sons George and Gene went along for the ride. Lucy had a con job, a real rip off pulled on her, the agreement was for the two women to share expenses. Not only did Wilma get a free ride, but when the arrived at the El Sereno home of Glee and Pat Yost, Wilma dumped her boys and disappeared. It took Glee a couple of weeks to locate her.
Lucy got a job as a housekeeper for the wealthy Schulman family in Beverly Hills. Earl and Lucille stayed with their sister Glee, but Lucy soon tired of being separated from her children.
Her next move was to rent a large old mansion at 607 St Paul Street near down town Los Angeles, so that Lucille and Earl could be with her. The depression was on, everyone was having financial problems, so Lucy allowed Russell, Nellie and Mildred Ellen, Glee and Pat, LeRoy and his off and on again wife (Martha), several hard up friends and various relatives to move in with her. By pooling their meager resources Lucy had her hands full keeping their finances above water, somehow she managed.
The big earthquake of 1933 which left everyone with a greater felling of insecurity, terror and apprehension changed all of this. the house was not in good condition from the quake so everyone moved out and established their own home again, for by now all had some kind of work and income.
Lucy moved to a large two story, four family flat in the Hoover/Olympic area, Earl, Lucille and LeRoy being with her. The two younger were in school, LeRoy would be there, then gone to one of his radio projects, and then back home again. Lucy worked as a housekeeper for several families during this time.
The Bremmer relatives had left our family pretty much alone through the years because of the divorce. However, as the Bremmers grew older and wanting to travel, especially to California, they remembered Lucy in Los Angeles. They soon became frequent house guests, old hurt feelings faded away.
Lucille married Bud, and Earl married Josephine and Lucy was alone. She moved to a lovely apartment house on Hoover Street near Melrose.
This was close to her Presbyterian Church, her doctors on Brench and Cooper, and close to the Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. During this time Lucy had several strokes, gall bladder surgery and suffered a bad accident. She was dragged across the Hollywood, Sunset and Vermont intersection by a Pacific Electric Red Trolley Street Car. She was laid up for some months, for the rest of her life she used a cane. Eventually the Pacific Electric made a cash settlement with her.
World War Ii was upon us. Earl had gone to Europe with the U.S. Army, LeRoy was in the South Pacific with the Merchant Marine, and Lucy kept busy with her Women’s Army Crop Auxiliary. Lucy would go off to her meetings, proudly wearing her military type khaki uniform with her overseas cap tilted at a jaunty angel. This Hollywood group of patriotic ladies rolled bandages and did what ever was requested for the War effort. (see photo and newspaper articles)
Several years after the war ended, it became apparent that Lucy should not live alone. She moved to the Pacific Retirement Home in Burbank and probably this time was the happiest of her later years. She had tried living with daughter Glee and Earl and daughter Winnifred, but the generation gap bothered her. The home was close to the Presbyterian Church and the Woman’s Club and this gave her additional pleasure.
The Korea War loomed on the horizon and Lucy became busy sewing clothes for the orphan children in Korea this gave her a feeling of great satisfaction. A fashion show of these adorable clothes “made by Lucy” was held at the church just a week before she died.
Bequeathed with charisma she charmed everyone from the early days of her life to her last days. Now Lucy was not a paragon of virtue, she loved to keep things stirred up so she could be center stage in settling problems. She was not cruel or vindictive but she certainly had the ability to keep the family in turmoil at times. Lucy was a gad about in her later years, she thought nothing of flying to San Francisco for a week end of night clubbing and fun. She even had cocktails before dinner (this for a gal who came from a family that did not allow tobacco, liquor or cards in the home). When I see the movie “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman” staring Cicely Tyson and I admire her beautiful portrayal of the elderly lady, walking slowly, proudly, with great dignity, making her way to the forbidden “Whites only” drinking fountain in the park, taking a drink of water, then slowly leaning on her cane, returning to the public sidewalk, defying the watching sheriff and other towns people, this aged black woman bringing tears ofadmiration for her demonstration for justice, then in my minds eyes, I can see my always proud mother, defying any restrictions, doing just such a thing. If she were alive in the ERA age, I’m sure she would have in her lady like manner, taken apart in the Women’s Lib Marches and joined in the Sit ins. Being so independent, she was really born ahead of her time. During the heat wave of September 1955, Lucy suffered another stork, due partly from the 113 degree heat that lasted for several days in Burbank. She died with all her children at her side except LeRoy.
Lucy was truly a remarkable woman and I am proud she was my mother. Her death certificate date 5 Sept 1955 lists cause of death: Cerebral Anoxic, Pulmonary Edema.
She was buried beside Carl in Forest Lawn, Glendale, California
by Winnifred Rhodes Jones (Bremmer)