Jamesport, Daviess County, Missouri
Interview with Frankie and Kenneth Miller conducted by Sharlene K. Miller on Sunday 12, May 2002.
Frankie tells that she and Kenneth met at a Fox and Coon hunt that ended at the Jamesport City Park. She was dating someone else (Bob Gillian) at the time, but Kenneth wanted to date her so he came by the house shortly after the hunt and asked if she would go out with him. They dated for three years before they got married in 1933. At the time Frankie lived with her parents, Charlie and Carrie Beaman nee Baldwin on the Pete Winn place atoug 1/2 mile east of Gallatin. Kenneth drove a 1926 Ford Roadster Model T.
Right after they were married they lived for a short time in a room in the Brown's house. Kenneth was working for the Browns as a farm laborer. The work was to last through haying season and then ended. They then moved to a little house, known as the Russell Wilson place that Kenneth rented. He was able to get the place for $6.00 per month, but instead of paying rent he could work off the rent by helping the owner. This place was about 6-7 miles NW of Jamesport. They lived at the Russell Wilson place for awhile and were living there at the time Melvin was born. When they first started housekeeping they did not have much money to furnish the house. They picked up a few pieces of furniture form Herbie Miller who had recently had a fire at his house. He had an old bedstead that had been through the fire. He let them have it free and Frankie bought a 10 cent can of purple paint that she used to paint it. She tells that her mother gave them a straw tick that she sewed for a mattress. Kenneth helped stuff it with straw and they used a feather bed comforter. The old bed did have springs. Mabel Miller, Kenneth's aunt gave them an old coal oil stove to use to cook on and they got an old heating stove out of Gay Nichols brooder house to heat there house the first winter. Frankie also got a couple of old orange crates that she used for a table and mirror in their bedroom.
Kenneth was a day laborer for several farmers in the area. It was very difficult to make a living during this time period. The roughest times for Frankie and Kenneth were from 1930 to 1937. Frankie tells of one time when they did not have anything to eat and Kenneth would go out coon and fox hunting. He came back and told her there was an old rooster out at an abandoned barn. She told him why didn't you just catch that rooster and bring him home for dinner. Kenneth went back the next day or so and did just that. When Frankie cooked the old rooster it was so tough they could barely chew it. Kenneth said she cooked it everyday for a week before they could eat it in soup. Some times they would eat greens because that was all there was to eat.
They moved around quite a lot during the first years of their marriage. For just a few months they lived at an old house that was on a farm that Bob Miller rented so he could keep stock there. They did not have to pay him anything since he already had the place rented. Another time they moved into Jamesport with another couple and shared the rent on a 5 room house. They had two back rooms and the other family, Carl and Marg Hampton had the front three rooms. They also lived at a place known as the Ollie Robinson place that was near Antioch church. One of the pictures of their family was taken at this farm. [The one with Melvin about 2-3 years old and Frankie in a spotted dress.] They also lived at the Brook Stith place before Melvin started school. When he was starting 1st grade, they moved to the Sydney Lockridge place. Melvin attended East Brushy school for his 1st year of school. They moved to the Holmes Leopard place on / near SK highway and lived there for several years. Melvin attended the Blake School for grades 2-5. They then moved to the Nell Hoskins place, sometimes referred to as the Cora Walker place, where they lived until they left Missouri and went to Denver in January of 1949.
Kenneth and Frankie were forced to leave Missouri due to Kenneth's severe allergies. The fall of 1948, they went to Denver to see if they wanted to move there. They had friends who had gone there previously, the McQueens. When they got ready to move to Denver they had to have a household and farm sale and get rid of most everything they had. This was a very sad time for the entire family. Melvin was about 14 years old. Frankie tells that she found him behind the chicken house the day after the sale 'crying his eyes out.' He had to get rid of his dog Rustie, his mare Roxie and her two foals, Topsy and Rex and his bicycle.
On the way to Denver, the Millers had a flat tire and only made it from Jamesport to Hiawatha, Kansas the first day. They stayed in a motel that had a shower in the room. Melvin had never had a shower before and was really excited and anxious to give this a try. The next day they got an early start and were able to make it to Red McQueens house in Denver late the 2nd day. They stayed in the basement at the McQueens until they could buy a house in Denver. Shortly, they found a new house on 2163 West Warren Street in Denver where they lived until they left Denver in January 1954.
While living in Denver, Kenneth worked at the filling station owned by the McQueens on Santa Fe Drive for about four years. While he was working there Frankie worked at the Bailey Overhaul factory sewing and at Hilbs Western wear where she also sewed. She also worked for a couple of bakeries in Denver. Frankie tells one time she was working on the line at the bakery taking hot cross buns and putting them on the frosting line. All of a sudden a rat jumped out at her. She began hollering and screaming and the boss just came out and said "Get those buns on the line!" Some time in 1953 both Kenneth and Frankie started working at the Sampsonite Luggage factory and eventually they were laid off. They decided they were not that happy in Denver and wanted to go back to Missouri. They moved into their home in Jamesport on 16 January 1954. They have lived there until 2002 when they had to move to St. Joseph, Missouri due to health reasons.
After moving back to Jamesport, Kenneth worked at several different jobs. He farmed his Aunt Dora Hutchison's place and sold the crops from the land for a few years. He also drove the school bus for the Jamesport School district for about 12-13 years starting in about 1957. He worked at the lumberyard in Jamesport and he did odd jobs for others. To supplement their income, he cut and delivered wood to people who needed it for heating. One year, some time in the 1970's, he and Frankie worked the wheat harvest and traveled from Oklahoma to Minnesota.