The summer after Frank was 2 (1948), Dad and Grace went out to Santa Monica to visit Harriet who was working then at the VA Hospital. She had bought a duplex with another woman and Aunt Harriet had gone out to live with her. Aunt Harriet was working at I Magnins in Westwood. Jim, Frank and I left Ohio a week or two later and met Grace and Dad at Salt Lake. Grace and Dad took Frank back to Mansfield with them and Jim and I went on to Santa Monica for our first real vacation together. The Harriets were wonderful hostesses and really showed us around Los Angeles area. We saw most of the sights as Knotts Berry Farm and La Brae Tar Pits. Disneyland was not there yet. We took the ship Santa Maria to Santa Catalina and had lunch at the Casino at Avalon Bay after Aunt Harriet had a short talk with the Maître D and persuaded him to let us in with slacks on. It was against their dress code. Her argument was that they had advertised on the way over on the boat but hadn’t mentioned that we wouldn’t be served in slacks. They gave us an out of the way table but we were served.
On the way back home, we went through Death Valley to the lowest spot in the United States and then we started climbing to an elevation over 6,000. Our poor car just wouldn’t make that kind of climb in one try and we had to stop along the way to give it a rest. Sometimes I couldn’t lift my head off the back of the seat we were climbing so fast. One place we parked along the road and walked around the lonely spot for a while and then we got back in the car and made love.
We left Frank with Dad and Grace often and had a week or two to just be lovers. After Jerry was born, Frank didn’t want to stay there while we took Jerry home with us. One day we wanted him to take a nap before we started home. He was afraid we would leave him. I promised him that we wouldn’t and he went to sleep. Then Jim, Grace and Dad wanted me to leave him. I didn’t want to break my promise to him and I wouldn’t do it. I really didn’t understand why they should want me to. So our time for being alone was over for many years.
Pearl was my oldest sister from Dad’s first marriage. She was married to George Ellis when I was 4 and they moved between Salt Lake and Nebraska with the Utah Wollen Mills where George worked. I didn’t see much of them and didn’t know them very well. They would visit now and then after we moved to Wentworth Ave. in Salt Lake. Pearl would give us some of her clothes. Mostly I remember that she always had silk stockings. She would give us the ones that had runs in and I would spend many hours mending them so I could wear them. We never got new silk stockings then.
One day, when I was a teenager, Mother got a letter from Pearl. It wasn’t a nice letter. It was after Mother’s Day and Mother must have written her something about not hearing from her. One of her remarks in the letter was that Mother was not her mother and she needn’t expect any honors from her on Mother’s Day. She berated Mother’s housekeeping, Dad’s attitude towards his daughters, Reta’s care of her children. It was a very vituperative letter. I think Dad destroyed the letter but the visits from Pearl stopped as well as the letters. I took that letter to mean that she didn’t want any part of my family. They were still friendly with Gordon and Leah but for the rest of us for many years Pearl and George were not a part of our lives. I always sent Christmas cards and they did us. Pearl had never met Jim or seen my boys.
When we came back from Germany, I decided to write to Pearl in my Christmas card and tell her we would be passing through Nebraska on our way to Salt Lake. She answered my letter and invited us to stop and visit. We planned our route through Bridgeport and stopped overnight with them.
I had known Pearl had left the Mormon Church for the Presbyterian Church and we had a lot to talk about of our experiences as apostates and with other churches. Pearl died of cancer shortly after Jim left in 1971, but before she did she wrote me many letters of comfort and encouragement while our marriage was going asunder. I remember her telling me how Jim would spend many wakeful nights regretting his decision and loss of family. I also remember commenting in my answer that I didn’t know about Jim (I really doubted that Jim was awake nights), but she was describing me.
During our years of correspondence after our visit with Pearl and George, I wrote to her about Frank after he had gone to New Mexico to live. I had told her about him writing for an “underground newspaper”. Her remark about that was “What has he got against his country?” I was so taken aback with that, I spent one Saturday morning composing a response (copy enclosed). A mother going to the defense of her son, yes. But it also shows where my head was at that time.
Pearl is gone now, bless her heart, but I still have some of her letters and reread them now and then to give me balance and remind me what it is like in middle America.
December 23, 1970
Thank you for your lovely Christmas card. But the accompanying letter left me a little shaken and wondering what I said to provoke such a reaction. I have done a lot of thinking about it and find myself answering you in my mind so I am going to put it down on paper.
I have debated with myself whether to answer you or ignore it. But I strongly feel that part of the problem with the world today is the lack of communication and understanding of other peoples ideas. So I will write and express some of the feelings your comments provoked. This is going to be rambling, but bear with me and I hope you will consider a dialogue with me. Writing is so cold. I wish we could talk about this in person and without excess emotion.
I have the beautiful message of your card before me and I especially like the passage “…and a love which thinks no evil, is not easily provoked and seeks not its own.” Let me take it from there. I don’t know who Bishop Remington is a romantic. I hope not too romantic for our time of existentialism, the philosophy of today.
Now to your letter. Let me quote again what you have written so we know to what I refer. “I regret that your Frank has elected to write for underground publications. What is his case against our country? I have worked too long and too hard to inspire faith in it, that I cannot find charity for the subversive ones.” WOW!!
I am not going to try and defend Frank’s philosophy of life. I don’t need to and I am not sure I know what it is exactly. He is radical and provocative. But I guess you and I are, too, as we seemed to have provoked some emotional heat.
What seems to upset you is the use of the term “underground” as used with publications of any sort. I don’t know what the term means to you, or for me for that matter. I used it myself because that is what they are identified as. But what are they? Frank has written for them off and on since high school. They always evoke controversy. But what is wrong with that. Anything can provoke controversy in certain circles, even the flag. But I don’t honestly see any difference between them and the so called “straight publications”. In high school it was a little sheet written and distributed by students with the cooperation of a church. It wasn’t published, so maybe it was underground. It was similar to one we put out at the skating rink when I was young. Ours was a stupid silly affair that could not compare with the depth of conscience the young people show today. The ones he wrote for in college, and is writing for now, were published and sold. I equate them with the publications we receive in our home that are categorized as special interests as “The Air Force Times”, “Postal Record” and the “American Legion Magazine” which I find rather provocative at times and very biased.
The magazine that he writes for now is no worse than what you or I can read in our daily newspaper or many magazines on the market. No worse, surely, than “Playboy” which probably has the highest circulation of any magazine and would probably rate with “Reader’s Digest” on the other side of the political spectrum. Both of which we have in our home. But the thing that disturbs me is that you have concluded for that word “underground” that Frank is subversive and has “a case against our government”, (If I am wrong, please correct me as I may have written something else that offended you.) without ever reading what he has to say. That sounds like you are condemning him as guilty before he is proven innocent when justice American style subscribes to a person being innocent until he is proven guilty. What in the world did I say to make you think that?
I am not sure what you mean by “inspiring faith” in, I suppose you mean, our country. I am wondering why the country itself doesn’t inspire that faith, and why you are so frightened by what seems to be subversive. George Washington was condemned, in his time, as being a traitor to his country by some of his contemporaries. If we had lost the Revolutionary War, our early patriots would probably have been hung as traitors.
Frank may or may not be a revolutionary. I don’t know anymore, but I think he has lost his political fever and turned to other interests. I am not close enough to know just what they are. I regret that, but realize that he has to make his own life. I am very happy that he is able to do that rather than living with his frustrations in his father’s house.
Our neighbor, who has a PhD in physics and is working very much within the establishment in college and church, thinks Frank is not revolutionary enough. So, I guess it is just where you stand how you view him or others. In the eye of the beholder, so to speak. I think we have to examine our own motives and prejudices.
I do know that Frank is a very sensitive person and alert to what goes on around him. Maybe more than we who can walk and talk and get bogged down in every day trivia. He is concerned with the lot of the grape pickers of Delano, the plight of the blacks of Watts, the excesses of police in a legal demonstration and many other injustices that maybe are more obvious to us in California where there is so much coverage and it isn’t very far away, than a little town more or less insulated, like a baby in the womb, in the heartland of America. But America is much more than its heartland. It has its ghettos, its labor vs. management with strikes, its mafia, its good and bad police and politicians, the student unrest, the war in Vietnam that extended into Cambodia, shooting of students on our American campuses. President’s Kerner Report and others reports that we indeed have a racist society. I have to ask why. I don’t think we can wrap ourselves in the beauty of romanticism any longer or have blind faith that our country is the panacea we’d like to think it was. There are too many who do not share in the affluence or justice that America stands for…and I am afraid we are heading for another revolution or civil war unless we can somehow face the issues and problems we have with some degree of success. Can we? Is our government too big and bureaucratic to be able to respond to its needs? I don’t know. I hope it can, but I look to the young people to make the necessary changes. If they don’t or can’t, I don’t think we need worry much about revolution. We will die in our own exhaust and pollution. That is very real out here and may not be so pressing in Bridgeport.
These are the things that bother Frank and his peers. It is significant, I think, that Frank was born on the day they tested the Atomic Bomb at Ewol Atol and his generation has grown up under that threat. Their world is not our world. It can never be. They have to live in what they can make of it and I wish them luck because I am not very optimistic about it. They don’t want your charity. They really could care less what you or I think. But I am glad they have the courage of their convictions.
For a Christmas letter when one should be full of love and good will, I found your one paragraph about what our family had done during the year concentrated in one aspect of Frank’s doings rather narrow. I think you could appreciate the extreme courage it took for a man with his handicaps to break away from home and family and go so far to prove to himself that he could. It must have been frightening. But the love and friendship he found there helps me to have faith in human nature. The people he likes may have beards and long hair and not dress to our tastes, but they are all heart and I love them.
Well, I hope I haven’t bored you or that you haven’t marked me down as a subversive. If you have, I’ve failed. But, I got up early this morning to get this off my chest. I wasn’t sleeping; I was mentally arguing the points with you. Now I’d better get to work. It is 9 o’clock.
I am hoping we can get Mother down here somehow for the holidays. The last I heard from Thelma and Earl was that she did not want to stay there with them because they treat Ponto like a dog. It seems everything would be easier if they would let Ponto be with Mother as she is used to rather than insist she can’t have him. Mother feels a strong attachment and love for him that is very understandable as he returns it. They make things so hard for her. She is willing to ride in the back of the truck to get down here where she can have her dog with her. If Jim wasn’t working so hard, we would drive up and get her. I wish she would fly down. It would be easier all around and we could take her home later. I know everyone is up to here with her and her dog by now – Christmas love – Bah, Humbug. I really wonder what the man who’s birthday we are celebrating would think of us.
III. DEATH OF FRANK C MOORE
Soon after we moved into our new home in Redlands, Harriet and her family took a vacation to the East Coast and they stopped on the way back to visit Grace and Dad. While they were there Dad had what must have been a stroke or possible overdose as he had sent Grace off with Harriet and Dick and it happened while they were gone as if it may have been planned and his medication was gone. He was in a coma when they came back and was immediately hospitalized. Harriet called Jim and he got a flight out of Los Angeles International Airport. Being new in town, we did not know how to get to the airport without driving the freeway. Jim did not have much faith in my ability to drive the freeway system to take him in and drive back alone so he took a bus and rode most of the day to get to Inglewood. He got his flight to Wooster and arrived while his dad was still alive but never regained consciousness. He died a few days later in August, 1963.
As usual, I was home with the kids and Jim stayed for the funeral. They buried him in Monongahela with Aunt Harriet and the rest of the family. Jim stayed on with Grace to help her get things in order and then he brought Moke, Dad’s wired hair terrier he had gotten for Christmas while we were there a few months before, to live with us.
Moke was something else. I had often thought I would never have a dog like that. He was very hyper and wanted out to run any chance he got. When we visited, Dad sat with a heavy chain and a leather leash tied to his leg or chair so Moke wouldn’t get away when someone opened the door. Grace and Dad were living on a pheasant farm and when he got away he killed the birds and wallowed in the marshes. His predecessor, Mike, was just like Moke and lived with them in Mansfield. When he got loose we all had to chase him and try to outsmart him so we could chain him down again. Mike met his end on his last spree and was killed on the road.
So we inherited the fun of keeping Moke in. Of course we couldn’t do it. We had a nice large fenced in backyard and a screened in patio that should have been ideal for a dog. But Moke soon learned he could cut through the screen with his claws and easily climb our basket weave redwood fence and he was gone. The first time or two the humane officer brought him home and threatened us with a $50 fine if we didn’t take care of our dog. Most of the time, though, we had our telephone number on the license and the new found family would call us and we would go retrieve a dirty tired Moke. He would just run for a day or two in any direction and get as dirty as he could, then adopt a family wherever he happened to wear out.
The last time he got away, I had just had a new couch delivered and they had to take it through the back and the sliding glass doors. I opened the side gate for them and locked Moke up in the house. When they left, I let Moke out but forgot to go shut the gate. Moke was always alert for those lapses of control and he was gone. We saw him a couple of times in the neighborhood but couldn’t find him when we tried to catch him. The dog catcher was evaded as well but a few days later he had to fish him out of someone’s swimming pool, drowned. He had been able to scale the fence and got into the pool but there was no way out.
By that time, however, Moke had sired 2 female puppies for the local kennel. They gave us our choice and we took Mitzie. She was somewhat easier to handle. She didn’t run and she was too fat to climb fences. We kept her about 14 years until she was deaf and blind. One day she wandered away and hasn’t been seen since.
We also had a cat, Puttycat, that we got as a kitten in Victorville before we moved to Redlands. She lived through all the dogs and presented us with a few litters of kittens before we had her spayed. When Moke arrived, Puttycat had to take to the outside as Moke was pretty rough with her. He just played, and her kittens were a source of fascination for him. He would lie and watch them for hours. He never bothered mommie when she had kittens. He even delivered the first one she had while she was trying to get out of his way. It quite surprised him and then he showed a healthy awe for the process of reproduction.
Puttycat got back into the house again, after the dogs were gone, to keep me company. The two little old ladies alone. But it was her turn on Easter this year. I had been to church and had Angie with me in her pink organdy dress. We pulled into the drive and Puttycat was sunning herself on the drive. I slowed down so she could stay out of my way. Angie got out first and said “What is wrong with Puttycat?” I had run over her and she was in death agony which we both watched with horror. In a few minutes, after I had gotten over the shock, I wrapped her up and Angie and I buried her in the back yard under the flowering plum tree.
V. DRIVING LESSONS
After the war ended and we were settled in an apartment in Wilmington, Ohio, it was time I learned to drive. The Board of Education must have had husbands in mind when they decided to make driving ed a part of the public school curriculum. I just wish they had thought of it earlier. My husband had to teach me. He was sure I could never drive and he almost convinced me that I couldn’t. But he was brave and took me out to practice. One day I drove between a parked car and an oncoming truck on a two-way street. Jim didn’t think I could do it and started to scream at me. I was sure I was going to be creamed by the truck but I made it through OK. I really didn’t know why such a fuss. Two cars should be able to go through a two-way street OK. But once I got through that without taking any paint off, I was ready to quit for the day. I was too shaky to drive anymore. I am surprised I ever wanted to drive again. But I did manage to get my license and only then did I gain confidence. However, Jim was not as easily convinced as the DMV. It was only after I drove home from Mansfield alone with baby Frank with me that I proved to him I could drive his car. He seemed to feel that I had taken some of his manhood away by learning to drive. Maybe it was because I was a little less dependent on him. He would still drive cross country doing 8 to 10 hour stretches without ever letting me relieve him at the wheel. If he did, I was always aware that I was not driving as well as he did.
In June, 1958, the family drove to Florida to visit Grace and Dad who were now living in Tampa. This was our first trip south and east of Texas. Now we were seeing the deep South, the lush plant life and the moss hanging from the trees. We drove hard and long the last night out and got there about 10pm. Nobody was home. We were all so tired, we had to get a motel, anyway, and start our visit in the morning.
Florida would not be my choice of places to live. There is just too much water. It stands on the yards as it rains almost every day. Frank’s braces and wheelchair were not built for that weather and they began to rust. The grass was so heavy it was very hard to cut. Granted, we were not there in the best season. The winters must be better. But I really couldn’t see why so many easterners wanted to go to Florida to live, but they did. Grace and Dad didn’t stay very long. Ohio was home to them now and Dad went back there to die. Grace has remarried and gone back to Florida.
We did enjoy swimming in the ocean at Tampa Bay. But the fishing was for someone else. We spent one whole day fishing on a preserve owned by the Mormon Church.
On our way back, we stopped in Oklahoma to visit the Coxes who had lived in our basement apartment in Ogden. Then we went through Dodge City to let the kids see where “Gun Smoke” was coming from. And back to Roy where we had to turn our heat up to keep warm in June.
VII. THANKSGIVING DINNER
One of the most memorable Thanksgiving Days I have ever spent was about 4 years ago, or 1976. I had had an invitation from Lois to join her family and others here from people who didn’t want me to be alone. Before I accepted any, I wanted to make sure Jerry had a place to go. This year he didn’t so I turned down the invitations and Jerry and I, the vestige of our family, had dinner here alone. Jerry was living on Palm Street with friends and he came over early. We ate early and for the rest of the day we talked. With Jerry I can be very frank and intimate. He is the same with me. This day we had all to ourselves. We didn’t turn on the TV. We just talked and shared our feelings like two school girls. It was fun and very rewarding. His friends came for him in the evening and they went away. I was alone again but feeling very good.
VIII. THE TV STAR
Jerry has become quite an accomplished musician on the drums and guitar. The long years of practice in my living room has paid off. He is currently playing with a band in Yucaipa called The “Azurites” who have been in many musical festivals and engagements. With another group called “Van Norman and Stevens” they tried out for the Gong Show for daytime and were on the air in September, 1977 when they won 2nd place. They went back to tape a night time show in December. Carolyn and I went down to watch that taping. It was all so much fun with Jaime Fox and Pearl Bailey on the panel. This time they tied with a group called “The Midas Touch” but they got the glory and everybody was high. We have been able to catch that show a couple of times on the air and it is quite a thrill to watch your own son on the tube.
The “Azurites” got their act together and spent many hours in Los Angeles cutting a record that finally came out last year in time for me to get several off to family for Christmas. It sounds pretty good and now they have something professional to show to prospective clients. We are all waiting for them to make it big.
The ‘70’s have been the hardest decade I have yet had to go through. Our marriage came to an end in a dissolution and our family split in two. I have lived through hell but I have had some good times. It certainly has not been all bad.
Frank started his last year at Cal State and Jerry was going to Valley and they lived together. Frank dropped out of school after President Nixon ordered Cambodia bombing. Some of Frank’s friends had gone to Santa Fe and he went down to join them to see if he could make it on his own. That took a lot of courage but he had a lot of friends. He went to a crash pad run by a Catholic priest. Jim and I went down to take his things but he was out in the country visiting at a commune with friends. We drove out to see him and he was doing what he had wanted to do for a long time…be a hippie. He was happy and that satisfied me but Jim was thoroughly disgusted with it all. He was getting further and further from us. Frank moved in with a friend and her family on a ranch later and he was in. I was the one who had to face Welfare to keep his grant coming until he was established. They wanted to cut it off as soon as he left. That worked itself out and Frank was on his own, leaving us behind. Jerry, Jim and I cleaned up and closed the apartment and Jerry came back home to live. He later dropped out of school and went to work in a carpenter shop and moved in with friends.
Mother came to stay with us the day after Christmas, 1970. Reta and Emory brought her as far as St. George, Utah where we met them. Mother was getting pretty old, she had turned 89 in November. Reta and Emory were living with her in her house in Salt Lake with their adopted daughter, Bernice. They had a trailer and wanted to do some camping and scouting for old things in old towns. We picked Mother up in our ’68, air conditioned Chev wagon and brought her across the desert and to our home to spend some time with us. She had her little dog, Ponto, with her. She liked to come to our house because we treated Ponto like a person with our dogs. We had two then and Ponto liked us.
On January 15, I took Mother down to Newport Beach to visit Lois. Jim had gone fishing overnight with friends the night before and was not home yet. I had taken Mother to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant Saturday night. Mother was only to stay a couple of weeks and come back to us. We were planning to take her home in March. She was never to come back and this was her last visit with us.
Mother had only had a weekend visit with Lois and her family and Monday, January 18, she complained of a pain in her shoulder and arm. Lois took her to a doctor who diagnosed a heart attack and put her in intensive care at Hoag Memorial Hospital at Newport Beach. She was there 9 days while they punctured her arms and wired her to machines to monitor her vital signs. She was black and blue up and down her arms and probably felt worse than she had that Monday morning. She stayed in the hospital another 10 days or so and then was transferred to a convalescent hospital across the street where she was on February, 14, when Jim left me.
I was going down to see Mother as often as I felt I could and take care of my home and family too. Jerry was back home by that time. I was able to relieve Lois as she was riding her bicycle back and forth from the hospital and spending part of every day there. There was a lot of strain on us both, especially Lois. We were hoping that she would get well enough for me to take her home and we would figure out a way to get her back home to Salt Lake where she wanted to be. That was not to be. They sent her home to Lois’s house to die. It took her 10 more days of suffering before her body finally gave up and she died the morning of March 8, 1971.
This was a very stressful period in my life and it is very difficult to write about. I certainly am not very objective, but what I am about to write is my experience and reality. It is not nice. For me, very little was nice in that period. It was hell.
Things had not been well with Jim and me for some time. He was hard to live with and we all walked softly. Things had happened that should have alerted me. And they did, really, but I either was not willing to face the reality of the situation or be the bitchy wife. So I kept my peace when he went out to get some liquor so Ruth and Herbert Van from across the street could come over and have a drink with us on Christmas Eve. He didn’t come back. They finally left and I was very embarrassed. Jim hadn’t bothered to explain where he was and I didn’t press. He did apologize to the Vans, but I was not worth an apology or an explanation. That hurt as did the night he didn’t come home till after 2 and I got Jerry up to go out with me to find him. We found his car at the tavern but no one knew where he was or they didn’t want to tell us. As we were leaving, one of our friends drove through the parking lot and let him out. There was no explanation why he was with her. And the times when I couldn’t depend on him to be where I needed him while Frank was in the hospital; when he wouldn’t go to Santa Fe with me to take Frank’s typewriter and tape recorder the state of California had given Frank. He wanted Jerry to be where he was supposed to be. I should have been prepared when Jim came home on Sunday, February 14, 1971 (Valentine’s Day), and told me he was leaving me, but I wasn’t.
With Mother in the hospital dying and Jerry and Frank breaking away, this was a very bad time for Jim to break up our 30 year marriage. Yes, the signs were there, but Jim had always been a good family man. Our marriage had been good. It hadn’t been very long ago that he had sent me 2 dozen long stem roses representing his love for each of the 24 years we had been married. His friends from the bar had brought us an old geranium plant with 25 silver dollars pasted to it on our 25th anniversary. I knew Jim was going through a bad time with his family, but I really thought we had a good basis for working it out. When I was finally told what was happening, it was too late to work things out. I felt very cheated that he didn’t want to try. By then, as he told me the day he left, he had had 2 years of seeing Barbara and he was in love with her and not me. He wanted her. He didn’t want to live with us anymore. He didn’t want his family. He packed his things late Sunday afternoon and left me alone in the house. Jerry had gone to visit his girlfriend, Lynn, in Long Beach.
I couldn’t watch Jim pack and leave, so I left and went to visit a friend, Dorothy Timms, who was dying of cancer and who had been a regular visitor at the bar and knew what was going on. She told me what she had seen going on and we talked for a while. Then I came home to the empty house. My world had fallen apart. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. The next day was a holiday for Washington or Lincoln’s birthday and Jim didn’t have to go to work. That was my first holiday I had to spend alone. I got up early and went down to Newport Beach to be with Mother and Lois. Mother never knew what happened as she was beyond caring about the world out there. I met Lois at the hospital and we walked outside while I told her. I stayed down there that night but I didn’t sleep. I was really in a state of shock. I hadn’t really been able to take the impact of the situation in and my body was numb.
I called Jerry at Lynn’s house Tuesday and arranged to pick him up and we came home together. I told him the news at Lynn’s house. It really hurt him. I drove home as I was afraid he would take his anger and frustration out on the road. When we got home, I knew Jim had been there. He didn’t know where I was and I think it worried him. Wednesday night, he came by to tell me he may come back. I know it was very hard for him to do what he had done. He must not have been very good company for Barbara as he told me she told him to come back to me. I told him he had to make the decision but it was what I wanted. He and Jerry talked a little about why he had left but they were antagonizing each other. Jerry was coming on a little like the man of the family…a role he had just assumed. Jim resented that and there began a power struggle which was destructive to both of them. Thursday, he came by to tell me he was coming home Friday. He was having difficulty handling the fact that they were breaking up two marriages of long standing. I was very happy and thought I had won that one. I hadn’t won anything, only prolonged the misery.
One of the reasons Jim came back, I think, was because I was expecting Martha and Eldon to arrive Friday. Jim was very fond of them and we had done a lot of things with them like camping and fishing. They came down to see Mother and I had to tell Martha when she called. They didn’t expect Jim to be there when they came. I had gone shopping and done some for Dorothy and wasn’t home when either Jim or Martha and Eldon arrived. So Jim’s homecoming was crowded and hectic. It all seemed so good to all be together again and I was willing to let it go at that. Martha and Eldon had brought Russell with them and Jerry was home. Martha, Eldon, Jim and I planned a fishing trip for a few days and left Russell home with Jerry. We were enjoying the trip and things were good, I thought, between Jim and me. We called home to see how things were there and Russell answered and said Jerry had gone someplace. Jim was livid. I don’t think I have ever seen him so angry, really out of proportion to the event. It really worried me.
Martha and Eldon stayed a couple of weeks. We went down to see Mother who was now at Lois’s and we went out to dinner a couple of times. It was very enjoyable. But before they left, I was getting little messages that it was not so good. I voiced my concern to Martha. I was beginning to think Jim had come back to be with them and that he would leave at a better time. I think she was feeling it too. She told me to do what I had to do and let the chips fall. I can’t think why I was down helping Lois and they were up here, but Martha had a little time to talk to Jim and she asked him how it was going. He didn’t know but he said I was hovering. I had precious little time for that, but as the saying goes: I was damned if I did or damned if I didn’t. I couldn’t do anything right. Things got worse. I became aware that Jim was seeing Barbara and then he got blatant. He didn’t care how he hurt me anymore. Probably, he was trying to make me call it quits this time but I wouldn’t help him a bit. I bit the bullet and hung in.
On March 8, 1971, Jim and I went down to Lois’s to see what we could do for her and Mother. Lois had an appointment with Welfare to see about getting Mother on Medi-Cal. Utah officials were bulking about paying bills for her while she was in California. She had been here too long. Jim took her over and I sat beside Mother writing a letter and reading Sherri’s book, “Love Story”. Mother dozed off and I turned the oxygen down while she was breathing normally. I saw her jerk and then it seemed to be all over. I called the doctor and he came out and confirmed death. My remark was, “Thank God!” Her last words were, “I wish I could go”. Jim came back while the doctor was there and I told him. He said he was sorry and seemed to reach out to me but when I responded, I really needed his support, he held me off. That hurt terribly. Others were getting his support, but he could show me no mercy. How did he ever get so far away? He was helpful, though, and went back to get Lois. I called Reta and she gave me instructions as to where to call to have her prepared to ship her body home. Jim and I drove out to the mortuary to make the necessary arrangements and then we started home. We stopped for dinner at March Air Force Base NCO Club. There were a lot of black people there which upset him. But all he wanted to talk about was Jerry not going to school or leaving home. I never really understood his antipathy toward Jerry. He seemed to be the scapegoat for everything Jim couldn’t cope with.
When Jim first left, I called Frank to tell him. He was visiting his friend in Washington DC again and he answered the phone. I told him what to tell Frank. He said, “That old Fart!”, which of course, didn’t help the situation. Later I wrote to Frank telling him Jim had come back and I had a second chance, and that Mother had died. The response I got to that letter addressed to all of us gave me quite a shock. To quote some of his comments when he got to the “grittygritty”, “Dad, good for you! You finally brought it out into the open…I’m only surprised that all of mock shock on Mom’s part…that is all bullshit. Dad splits, groovy. Dad gets tired Barbara, groovy. Dad come back, groovy IF YOU BOTH REALLY WANT IT THAT WAY. But if you-Dad-came back just because felt guilty, then it is fucked because Mom will beat you over your head with your guilt until you split again.” That letter tore my heart out. I wanted to hide it and not let Jim see it. I was really walking on eggs by that time. But I knew Jim saw the mail at the Post Office and I didn’t dare. One day I missed the letter and the next day it was in place. I found out why later when Jim produced the copy he had made in Conciliation Court to prove that I was a bitch that couldn’t be lived with. Our family had split down the middle.
Late in May, we met Martha and Eldon at Lake Powell for our last trip together. I was going to prove to him I could fish too, if that is what he wanted in a woman. I did. It was a beautiful trip but it was obvious to me that he wanted to be with Martha and Eldon but not with me. He wouldn’t touch me, though we slept together. He told Martha then that I was clinging and wouldn’t let him breathe. Barbara wanted him and obviously he wanted her and meant to have her. It was just a question of time.
Shortly after that trip, on June 5, 1971, Jim left for good and filed divorce papers in July. The papers were served to me by a deputy sheriff on July 11. I was alone and cried all afternoon. I got a phone call from a friend which cut it off. I just wanted to tear up the papers and throw them away. That wouldn’t have helped, as Jim told me the next time he came by, there was a no-cause law now and the divorce would go through without my signature. I think that is a good law, but then it seemed so unfair to me. I didn’t have any recourse but to let him go. He was the one doing the things that were cause for divorce. I had tried very hard to be a good wife and mother, which was all I wanted to be. But everything that I had thought was good and right, turned out to be bad and wrong. I felt so helpless. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop this nightmare. Someone suggested Conciliation Court and I was willing to try anything. But that was too much like marriage counseling to Jim and he became very hostile, with his copy of Frank’s letter. Jim really let the counselor have it with how bad I was; he couldn’t eat a meal with me without me picking a fight; I was tearing down his country that he had fought for. It was a disaster. After, he went his way to Barbara and I went home alone to cry. I went down to Lois’s for moral support. Jerry was home and supportive but would rather be someplace else. I was hard to take.
It was a long hot summer and I went down to Lois’s as often as I could to get away. I spent a lot of afternoons in Ruth Van’s kitchen drinking coffee or ice tea. But I fought the dependency I was creating. I sensed healing would be done by me and I had to get on with the job. I really needed Jim to lean on but he was gone and I had to stand on my own two feet ALONE if I was going to make it. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to make it. I had seen the doctor when I knew Jim was spending his days off with Barbara and he had given me sleeping pills that I had intended to use all at once. I couldn’t do that, though, because it would hurt Jerry. I was aware that it was Jim I wanted to hurt, not Jerry. I tried to contrive ways to do it so Jim would find me. I couldn’t figure out how to do it without being too destructive to Jerry. I didn’t think Frank would care much. I would have done my thing and that was OK. So I went on living and had to figure out how to make a living for myself, though it seemed so pointless. There just wasn’t any good reason that I could think of for me to go on living. Jerry would probably be better off if I was gone. Maybe that would bring Jerry and Jim together. That was the “Crazies” I had to go through and I found out that it wasn’t all that different from separation by death. With death, the survivor does have family support and friends are sympathetic at least for a while. But, with a divorce, friends don’t want to get involved and you find yourself pretty much alone when you need so much help. I found myself comparing myself to a flower that had been pulled up by the roots and left to die; a boat cut off from the main ship and left to drift.
Jim wanted to get through the divorce with as little expense and trauma as possible and didn’t want lawyers involved. That would have been the best way if I could have handled it, which I couldn’t. I went to the Legal Referral Service and they referred me to Mr. Lunsford whose office was just across Brookside from me. He had also been our neighbor, which I didn’t know, and remembered Frank riding the school bus. I retained him and Jim had to pay for it. He couldn’t handle that so he got himself a lawyer to deal with my lawyer. The break up was bad, but having to go to court for the property settlement added to the trauma. I know it was hard on Jim as well as me, but he had someone out there to go to and I was alone and the rejected one. Jerry was here and Ruth Van’s niece who spent a lot of time with Jerry. Diane was very sympathetic which made Jerry more concerned. He was going through his own trauma breaking up with Lynn.
Now I had a lawyer to think about the divorce, I put my mind on other things. During the summer, I took a four day a week course in Medical Secretary and machines. I didn’t really think anyone was going to hire me at 51 +, but the work helped fill my mind during waking hours and gave me some place to go. It was the night time when I couldn’t sleep that the horrors poured back over me. In the fall, I decided to go back to Valley and take up nursing or something. I really didn’t have any real goals in mind, but I had to do something to move. I just pretended I knew where I was going but I couldn’t quite see a job at the end of it. I felt so old and worthless. It was late to get into classes at Valley, but my good friend Roger Woods came to the rescue and pulled the class cards for me and I started school again.
If I was going in for nursing, I had to start with sciences. They were a lot harder for me than psychology, political science etc. that I had really enjoyed before. My real love was philosophy which mystified Jim and I majored in psychology which frightened him. He would have been much happier with the sciences I was now taking and I could have used his help. I began with chemistry and spent hours learning symbols. That helped fill the evenings. Physiology and anatomy was harder with lab reports to make. But physics went right over my head. I didn’t fathom it at all and it was the first class I ever withdrew from. By this time, I had a job and really couldn’t handle it all, especially with 2 labs.
In December of ’71, Eleanor Yoeman from Dr. Carlisle’s office called me. Dr. Carlisle had been our doctor as he was close and I could get forms signed for Frank with the minimum hassle. He had died in October. Dr. Williamson had bought the practice along with the files of another dead doctor. I had talked quite a lot with Eleanor in the office and had taken a class with her in art. She knew that I was taking the Medical Secretary classes and she needed someone to fill in for the front office receptionist for Christmas week. I was so pleased as I was on Christmas break from school and I really needed the money. I had one day to get instructions and prescriptions, etc. in a very busy office. They were booked to the hilt. I was painfully aware of my hearing loss as sometimes I had trouble hearing calls. I was wearing a hearing aid again but that didn’t help on the phone. One call, I didn’t understand and I asked her to spell her name. She said w-i-f-e. It was the doctor’s wife and I knew I had blown it. It really shook me up and I knew they would not want me back. But I finished the week of 52 hours at minimum wage of $2 an hour and was happy to get my $104. Nobody was worrying about overtime. It was Christmas and I had just earned my first money. Then I went back to school thinking that was that.
But Eleanor called me again in January and asked me to work part time to straighten up the files of Dr. Browns. She had the idea of teaching me to do the insurance. The doctor didn’t think they needed anyone else but they did and the files just got me in the door. I sorted files and sat in the corner and learned how to bill insurance claims. I even came in early and cleaned the office as the doctor did agree they needed that done. The part time job usually was more than 40 hours a week and I was happy to work around my classes. Some months, I grossed more than the $600 he was paying his nurse and office manager. I got proficient with the insurance and moved around the office doing other jobs as receptionist, billing and simple blood tests. I could even give shots when I needed to. I took a couple of insurance classes and found I knew more than the teacher. I continued my school for a while until I felt I was really a regular employee and then I dropped it.
The divorce was proceeding pretty much without my attention. It was supposed to be final in 6 months but it took a little over a year. The court hearing was traumatic and stirred up the pain again. The first was the show cause hearing where Jim was supposed to show good reason why he didn’t give me enough money to live on. He had made the decision as to what it would cost me to live. That is pay the house payment, utilities and food. If I needed more, which I surely did, I would have to earn it. My lawyer was asking for support for Jerry until he was 21 and more money for me to cover car insurance and health insurance both of which I lost on the final date. I was to meet the lawyer at the court house at 8:15 and the hearing was 8:30. I was the only one there. That, I found, was par for the course with lawyers. Jim was waiting for his lawyer in his office. He had slept late and wasn’t in yet. I would rather have been in an office. I felt very alone. There was a break about 10:30 and then everyone arrived and we went on with the hearing.
Another court hearing was an attempt to settle the case out of court. My lawyer was there, Jim’s wasn’t but he did have a representative. Jim and I sat together in the spectator seats while our lawyers went before the judge to work things out. I couldn’t hear a thing but I knew Jim was agitated. I later learned it was because his man could not make decisions regarding the points they wanted to settle. So that day was wasted and we went our way to live our lives.
The last hearing was the final interlocutory judgment as far as I was concerned. We were the only ones there for Moore vs. Moore (that sounds like 2 prize fighters squaring off). Jim was going for a default “to bring the matter to an early termination”. I am quoting a letter from his lawyer to mine dated May 25, 1972. I can only assume that Barbara’s divorce was progressing to the climax and Jim was ready to come to terms. Much later, I was able to obtain my legal file from my lawyer’s office when he gave up his practice. In this hearing I signed my life away and began the painful process of a rebirth into a new life. I went to my car and cried and came home and cried with Diane and Jerry hovering and concerned. But it was good to have it over. I had had enough of courts for a life time. I think Jim felt the same way. The Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage was entered in Judgment Book No 253 page 342 on July 11, 1972, and my life of 31 years came to an end. I came face to face with what it was like to be single, or the life of the formerly married, especially a divorced single.
Suddenly, I didn’t fit in the world I had known for so long. I no longer had base privileges: medical, commissary or Base Exchange. I had to learn to shop again. Since Jim was to remarry very soon, he had to pick up my base pass and scratch off the sticker on the car. I felt as if my chevrons had been ripped off and I had been given a dishonorable discharge and cast aside so that a new wife could take my place. I had no claim to his retirement pay from the Air Force or what he would get from the Post Office. My lawyer told me there was no way that could be attached. So, after 30 years of faithful service, all I had to live on was what Jim would give me out of the goodness of his heart. We all know how many men do not pay child support, let alone spousal support. I was scared. There were many ways Jim could avoid paying if he wanted to and I certainly did not have any faith in my earning ability at this late date and no recent experience. I was painfully aware that the poorest segment of society was older women alone, divorced, widowed or whatever. I knew some personally. My friend Dorothy died of cancer alone on Welfare and bitter. I could see myself ending up like that. I found out I could get my part of Jim’s Social Security because I had been married over 20 years but not until I was 62. What happens to those married 19 ½ years? That time has been shortened to 10 years since. In retrospect, I didn’t need to worry about Jim. The gentleman he is, he has been very faithful with the support checks, mostly on time. There were times they were a day or two late and I panicked until I got it.
Faced with the realities of my security and finding a job, I learned, contrary to the home, mother and apple pie mentality, the work women are doing in the home is not valued in society. Your Social Security is in his name and you get half to live on with the same household expenses when he is gone. His retirement plan is his and goes with him when he goes. He “gives” you what he wants to give you because it is his, not yours. And that usually works out to about one fourth of the income you had together, usually to pay the same payments for house and utilities. His health and life insurance is no longer yours. Tough if you get sick. Get Medi-Cal.
To add insult to injury, The Automobile Club called me to tell me I could not get car insurance because I was a divorced woman. Jim could even though he was a divorced man for a short time. The agent’s suggestion was that I ask Jim for the insurance we had and he could get another policy. I didn’t want to call Jim about that or anything anymore. The agent called him and I got the policy in my name. Talk about discrimination. But that was the way it was and some people accepted. I was going to learn that not all people, as the women’s movement had begun and some things have gotten changed. Anyway, I had the insurance but I had to pay for it somehow.
I lived in dread of meeting Jim and Barbara together. So far, thank God, I have not had that experience. I have run into Jim now and then but it tears me up and I avoid it if possible. I think about what I will do at family events like marriages or deaths. Maybe time has taken care of my anxieties, I don’t know. But, so far, we have taken care of situations neatly.
When I went out into the labor force, I learned that a “displaced homemaker” had no credentials. It didn’t cut any ice with getting jobs. I, fortunately, got my first job without going out with a resume in hand. I didn’t have anything to put on one. Nobody cared that I had made a home and helped a handicapped child through his school years. My voluntary work may have been helpful but even that was too far away. My school helped but I had not prepared myself for a vocation. I got it on the strength of my little summer class and the fact that another woman had known my plight and wanted to help.
By the time the divorce was final, I did have a part time job but I knew that my hearing was a handicap there and it irritated the doctor. I was told that by 2 different people. My counselor for the nursing program said it would hinder me in nursing and I should try to get a job as a ward clerk. I changed my goal to inhalation therapist that required the same basic subjects. I felt everything was against me. The poor uprooted flower was going to die slowly.
I have learned that a divorced person goes through pretty much the same trauma that a widowed one does. The advice is not to make any major decisions for at least a year. Time will heal the pain and that was projected to a year. I was glad I didn’t have to decide to sell the house and I had been so long getting one I could really call home. I really needed the roots it provided for the flower if it was going to survive. I am glad I made that decision as it has proved to be the right one so far. Maybe I was a baby, but, instead of one year, it took me a good five. And I don’t think that is unusual. The real difference between the loss by death and divorce is the attitude of people and the division of property. In that respect, the divorced person has the harder road. If you have any friends left, they really don’t want to get involved and you find yourself accepting the blame and guilt of your part of the breakup. You have to get out and make new friends in organizations that will accept you.
I started going to groups designed to help you live with yourself and others. The first one was a transactional and analysis group at a Congregational Church run by its minister, Harry Suttner. It was a good group where we learned to analyze human transactions based on the book “Games People Play”. I met Buffy Smith who experienced divorce just a year before and she was very helpful to me guiding me through the maze. We became very good friends and do a lot of cultural things together. We both sew and have many other things in common.
I joined a group called We Care which was organized for people like me, recently out of marriage. I went with a friend I had met at the little church I had started to attend. Her name was Billie Baysinger and we have become very good friends mainly in relation to church. I met a lot of good friends at We Care. It really was a caring place. We did weekend groups to build our personality potential. It was all very helpful in building my self-esteem that had dropped to nil.
I heard about Carl Roger’s weekend groups going on in La Jolla. I went there first with Harlan Maase, a man I met at church, and we took Jerry and Diane with us. I wanted that as Harlan was and is married and I really didn’t want to get into any entanglement that way. That was a very good experience at lot like We Care’s weekend groups in another setting of lovely La Jolla on the ocean near San Diego. I went many times after that with many other friends. I met some very interesting people there as well.
The groups served their purpose and I have stopped going. I attend workshops on subjects as one coming up soon about wills, probate, etc.
I went away whenever I could and had as many new experiences that I could. One of the first was Frank’s wedding. He was living in a commune by now in Warwick, Mass near Northfield. I had read about the commune and him and his bride to be in a recent Mademoiselle magazine. I went on this trip the week our divorce was final and Jim’s approaching marriage was imminent. The Nashes had invited me to come to Austin to visit them which I did en route. I enjoyed the visit with them but missed Jim terribly. It took me back to the war days when I could put it all in a letter. Now that was denied to me.
I spent almost a week in the commune with Frank and Debbie. On July 29, 1972, a bunch of us piled into a van and went to get the set of rings for a double ring ceremony. I bought the rings as a wedding present. Then we went to the Justice of Peace for the ceremony. He would only let the couple, the best man and me in for the event. Everyone else had to wait outside. He seemed to be afraid of all those hippies from the commune in his house. I described the bride in a letter to Jerry that day as wearing a lovely velvet jacket with a peek-a-boo plunging neckline over faded jeans and barefoot sandals. The groom wore faded jeans and old tennis shoes, a sleeveless shirt set off with a bright red pointer on his head. The mother of the groom, not to be outdone, wore dirty (by that time) white pants with a blue printed shell with pink barefoot sandals. It was a motley crew but we got the job done, much against Debbie’s mother’s wishes. She had been frantically calling everyone at the commune and Jerry here at home to stop it. I talked to her once and thought she was crazy. My opinion has been reinforced a few times since then. But I had to agree that she had a beautiful (6 foot tall) daughter who was very talented. She was the artist.
I took the newlyweds to dinner at a local restaurant where I had lobster while they ate things like sandwiches. We toasted them with a bottle of wine. That evening, we went to a concert with the band, who was the focal point of the commune, and then back home on the floor of the van.
I found the commune very interesting and was impressed with their attitude about the American Dream i.e. having more and more things. They were not concerned with big homes, cars, nice furniture or expensive clothes. That was refreshing. They pooled their resources and talents to build the houses and gardens. There were always people around to support anyone who needed it and the children had lots of attention and love. I felt Frank had found his place and I was happy for him. I was probably lucky that I could go and experience without Jim’s intimidating presence. It was a good experience all around except when I read Frank’s story of his life where he blamed me for consorting with the doctor, when he had the trans-urethral section, to make him sterile. I had no idea he felt that way.
I flew back to Salt Lake and finished my two week vacation visiting with my family.
I was really turned off by the idea that formerly married people were not satisfied until they were married again. I didn’t think it had to be that way. I did feel very unlovable being rejected by Jim, and I really needed to know that I was attractive to men. In a way, I was very pleased to have my first date again after so many years not thinking about things like that. He took me to the Roller Derby. I hated the sport and was so self-conscious about wearing my rings that I didn’t want to take off until the final date. His family was there and I didn’t want them to think I was married and going out with him. I also knew that his motive was to get me to bed. He was very open about it. All this was too much for me, I hadn’t been desensitized yet. It was a disaster. But, under all the pain and indecision there was a little voice saying, “Hey, you can still attract a man!” I was on my way up. I had a few more dates with other men. Two mentioned marriage and I am sure one was serious. But, as I told Jim as he was leaving, he was hard to follow. I found myself doing anything not to be home for the man who was wanting to be with me. I just didn’t want them hanging around. I haven’t met anyone who has changed that idea. I find I would rather be in the company of other women; I am more relaxed; we don’t play games, and I don’t have to fight them out of my bed. I have decided that is the way it is going to be. I live alone, when Jerry gets it together, and I like it that way. I have learned to like myself again and I think I am good company. I don’t mind staying home and puttering around the house and yard and sew if I can find the time.
During the hot summer Sundays after Jim left, I knew I would have to start going to church to get out of the house and meet people. That is against my principles for church attending, but I had to do something and that is all I knew about on Sunday. One Sunday, I got dressed and went out looking for a little church on the north side of town (the barrio) that I had heard about where the minister and the people were brave enough to stand up for what they believed. I knew a girl who went to high school with Frank was going there. I was driving around over on the north side looking for it and ran into Jerry and his friend Marie. We stopped to talk and they wanted to know what I was doing. I started to cry and told them what I was doing. I went on to find the church as they were having coffee after church. I talked a few minutes to the minister, Hal Hudspeth, and felt better but determined to go back the next Sunday. I have never joined Impact, which is a liberal arm of the local Presbyterian Church, because I have formulated my philosophy to exclude organized religions. I was there for fellowship and love which I got in abundance. They accepted this Mormon renegade with her weird ideas and they didn’t care. In fact, they often shared them with me.
I asked Hal for some counseling. I didn’t know where else to go even though I had trained for the crisis line while I was in college before Jim left. He came twice to talk to me. He really didn’t give me all that much advice except to get out of hot Redlands as much as I could. But he listened while I got a lot of it out. He has been a very good friend though I haven’t needed his counseling anymore. He is the nicest man I have ever met and the most courageous.
My religious philosophy had evolved by now to some pretty concrete ideas. The last time I tried to teach Vacation Bible School in Germany, I told the superintendent about my Mormon background. She didn’t want any part of me teaching those precious children and had to pray for guidance. I was doing a little praying of my own. It was really alright with me if I didn’t teach, but I objected to helping someone who had had a lot less experience. I was ready to tell the super that I could better spend my time at home when someone had to drop out and she had to let me take her place. It would seem that our prayers had been answered. Later she told me I did fine, but she has no idea what she did to me at that point. I had to examine my motive for wanting to teach. I was there mainly because I wanted Frank to go and it was easier if I participated. But it was getting harder and harder for me to teach the material. I decided, after that experience, not to volunteer again and then began to study what my real attitude about religion was.
I found there was a middle ground between theism or monotheism, the belief in God, and atheism. That was agnosticism which says, “I don’t know, there is no way of knowing”. I go further: Nobody really does. You can believe but you can’t know. A good definition of God I found was Paul Tilloch’s ground of being. It takes care of God neatly, and I don’t have to deal with Him. That suits me, God just is. At Impact, this is accepted so I can enjoy the fellowship and social life with the worship. But I draw the line when it comes to joining and serving on the Session as it gets into too much of the doctrines of the larger Church. It was here that I met Harlan and Gladys Maase and became good friends. Harlan and I spent quite a few group sessions together getting to know each other rather intimately. It was a good experience to be able to open myself up so fully to a man. I had not been able to do that with Jim. He was too judgmental. I can with Jerry and could with Frank but I can’t any longer.
Frank and Debbie left the commune shortly after I was there, and went back to Santa Fe. But in December ’72, they were living with a brother and sister in Albuquerque and Jerry and I went to have Christmas with them. Jerry met his sister for the first time. Jim gave me his last Christmas present of $10 for the trip and I bought a beautiful Indian necklace made of glass beads.
Frank went back to school in Albuquerque and got his BA degree. He and Debbie met JoAnn who moved in with them and they went to Santa Fe where they met Ray Reece. Ray and JoAnn got married in a civil ceremony and later all four got married in their own ceremony with a lot of friends and me in attendance. True to form, the four of them are spearheading group marriages. What an interesting idea. Instead of polygamy that the Mormons practiced with one man and two or more wives, they are doing it with two equal partners. It seems to have worked very well and for Frank it is a very good situation with more than one person to take care of him and his needs. JoAnn was from Australia and they are all fascinating people. They all went to New York to live for a while and both Debbie and JoAnn had baby boys. Koala was born to Debbie on January 29, 1975 and Kilynn was born to JoAnn February 2. They had planned the births on the same day and were to have a midwife and have natural childbirth. That worked for Debbie, but for JoAnn it didn’t. She was having trouble and 3 days later delivered in the hospital. When the boys were about 3 months old, they all came back to California to live and took their friend’s house in Muscoy. They didn’t like it there and only stayed one month and went to Berkeley where they are now.
Jerry has moved in and out of the house and used the living room to practice until about 1975 when they built a music room in one of the fellow’s garage and that is where they stayed. Jerry met Carolyn Bond in 1976 and fell in love with her. She was married at the time but got a divorce and they have decided to live together for the present. Both were disillusioned with marriage. They have been together longer than some marriages I’ve seen. They lived with me over a year and Carolyn helped me take care of the house and the situation. Carolyn had a daughter Lisa and two grandchildren, Michael and Angelina. They were at the house a lot and I fell in love with the children, especially the pretty little blond girl who I could make clothes for. They both love me and are like grandchildren for me. Carolyn and Jerry moved out to live with Carolyn’s mother when her father died. Now they have a house of their own in Yucaipa.
My job with Dr. Williamson had progressed to where I had my own office and several increases in pay. He was finally telling me I was doing a good job and seemed interested in giving me a good place to work. My last raise he had given me in May, 1977 and told me it was long overdue. At that time he let his office manager go and we all did a lot of overtime work to keep his office running. He hired several people and let them go in a couple of weeks. It was sheer chaos. He hired my medical secretary teacher to organize the place and ignored what she suggested. That added to chaos and she quit coming. One day he hired a front office helper who said she could do insurance. The next day, September 6, 1977, after I had worked a full hard day and 15 minutes overtime, he came into my office and closed the door. He told me he had to let me go because I was not cooperating with the other employees. That was news to me but I knew about the power play that was going on and it was my turn. Then he said it was so peaceful when I wasn’t there. I had just come back from one week vacation. That was ridiculous. That office was never peaceful except when he was gone and we could catch up with our work. What I heard him say was he was tired of me being around. I had been there longer than anyone else and he was paying into a retirement plan. So it was time for me to go.
It hurt a lot, it was a blow to my ego. But I really couldn’t expect anything else from the man. He didn’t keep help long and it was usually a nasty separation and it just had been with his office manager. I had seen him at work and experienced his dishonesty and lying when he tried to say I said something I hadn’t said. I told him so and he probably didn’t like my not keeping my mouth shut. But I really didn’t expect the vindictiveness he was about to display when I applied for unemployment compensation. The worker called him while I was in his office and he told him what he had told me so they wrote him a letter saying they had decided I was eligible for the payments. That did it. He was angry now and he was going to show them and me that he was perfectly within his rights to fire me.
His appeal listed several things that I had never heard before: I didn’t send Medi-Cal in on time per instructions. I adjusted ledgers and gave refunds. Patients couldn’t understand me on the phone. Insurance forms mailed too late to collect. Refused his orders in billing history and physicals for hospital patients. I wore dirty clothes with dog hair on them. I knew where all of that came from. The power play had won her a seat next to God. But not for long. Her husband made her quit and she was gone in a few weeks but not before she accompanied Dr. Williamson to the appeal to testify against me, both of them lying, but with his witness, he looked more credible and he was leading the hearing. I could only respond to what he brought up. Then he walked out before I had a chance to say very much. I thought that would throw the hearing my way and was pretty confident. But it didn’t. The judge thought he was more credible and that was that. I wanted to appeal that but it was close to Christmas and I was learning a new job with the County and I didn’t have the time or energy. So I let it drop. I didn’t need his money by that time, but I wanted to clear my name. As it was, I had to start again with that kind of thing over my head. And my day in court was another disaster.
I got a temporary job with Central Services in San Bernardino County doing the health insurance. I had thought, if I lost my job, I would go right to a hiring agency and pay to get another one. But first, I wanted to take Civil Services tests and see where that would lead. My friend, Helen Campbell, took me over to the County Personnel to get my name on the testing list for the following Friday. I passed the test and got my name on the list and began interviewing. I took the temporary job because they were promising it would go regular. My supervisor was a bitch and gave me a really hard time about hearing and inability to work faster while I was learning the complicated procedures and answer the phones which were pretty busy. I hung in as I was too afraid to walk out and it did go regular in 7 months. I have been there almost 3 years now and on much better terms with the supervisor and the other employees. Contrary to Dr. Williamson’s parting remarks that I couldn’t work with other women (I had in his office for almost 6 years), I get along fine with my coworkers. And after the first evaluation which wasn’t good, they have all been good and I know I am doing a good job. The doctor really did me a favor but he needn’t have been so harsh. I have benefits now that I didn’t have with him and have a much better job.
It began before, but in the last decade I have become an avid feminist and joined the National Organization for Women. The women’s movement has said a lot to me as I learned to make it on my own. It gave me encouragement and reinforced my self-worth. I haven’t been as active as I would like to working full time with house and yard not to mention the car. I have met a lot of interesting people there and drawn a lot of strength from them. I served one year as their treasurer.
I have found my own circle of friends who never knew Jim. I enjoy them and they me. It is not a bad life. Once I really believed it was alright to be single, I was OK. The world out there is treating us better all the time and laws are changing in our favor all the time. Jerry and I are close but Frank has moved away from me. There is no communication. I have accepted that and wish him well. I know he is happy and that is the main thing.
Jim has made a new life for himself with Barbara and none of his former family see him except by accident. I would never have believed he could turn his back on all of us.
The sixth decade is ending good. I have a promotion at work and I enjoy my job. We keep moving around from one building to another and I have made more new friends there. I am about as secure as I can hope for at this late date. I am old to start putting into retirement when others my age are retiring. If my hearing and health holds out, I may be good for another 10 years, and then can collect retirement. I enjoy my home and yard though it is a lot of work keeping it up which I don’t do all that great. At first, I needed the discipline the upkeep demanded. Now, I enjoy the room it affords me with the patio, the yard and the fireplace that I wouldn’t have in an apartment or trailer. What I enjoy doing the most is taking a good book out under the tree on my lawn chaise and read all day in the quiet solitude. It is good and I guard my privacy jealously.
Next month on November 20, 1980, subtract 20 and, yes, I will be 60 and I will begin a new decade. It looks promising. Jim was right that it was better this way. I didn’t believe him and it took me a long time to come to it, but, yes, I am probably better off. We can never go back to the good times we had and as unhappy as he was, it would not have been good for us. I can say goodbye now. The pain is gone.
At the beginning of the 60s, I was selling the first house we had ever owned. Jim had already gone and I was left behind to close the doors. I wanted to sell it myself and not put it in the hands of realtors in order to keep the price down. I resisted the realtors but a neighbor came by one day and said if I would add $100 to the price and give it to him, he would bring me a buyer. I did and he did and the lady bought the house. We met at the escrow office on January 22, and I tried to figure out what was going on. This was a new experience for me. We spent all afternoon in the escrow office and I was beat when I was through. But I had in my hot little hand a check for $1,000 for our equity. I had never had so much money all at once in my life.
The house was sold and we had to have a place to live until we went to Germany. So Mother and Dad moved over for us again and we moved in. We had our furniture stored at the base. The kids were in school at that time of the year and I didn’t want to change them for the short time we would be there. So I arranged to take them up to Ogden three times a week and worked with them in the interim. This worked well as I could just carry on the work while we went overseas. We lived with Mother and Dad two months.
While we were in Salt Lake, one night the boys and I had gone out to Martha and Eldon’s. On the way home in the evening, we came to the rail road crossings where the lights were flashing. I pulled the car up a little to see if I could see the train coming and the guard rail came down on the car. I was scared and so were the boys. But I backed up and the guard rail came off the car and into place as the speeding train went past. The car radio was playing “Teen Angel”.
Jim came home for us in March and we drove to New Jersey to McGuire Field again where we got a commercial flight and were treated like 1st class citizens for a change. Our flight went into Frankfurt where Jim had left his car that he had bought over there and we drove home to a little town way out in the country. It was a windy road twisting around and through mountains and beautiful country. Jim had rented the bottom part of an old farm house with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and living room. If we thought Morocco was cold, it had nothing on Germany winter, spring or summer. It was nearly always cold. We were celebrating the Fourth of July in our winter coats. We had heaters in the living room and kitchen but the bedrooms were only for sleeping well covered. We lived there a month and then got an apartment in Bitburg close to town and the base. I started to take Frank to therapy but the school would not consider letting him go. They would let me take books and gave us a curriculum and I set up a school at home for him. He went to church and made friends there and with our friend’s children mainly Elon and Bobbie Nash’s boys Butch and David. But he missed the experience of school. He probably got a better academic experience and so did I. I worked with the idea that, since we were in Germany, we would learn as much as we could about the country. It had some fascinating history with old Roman sites to visit close by. Our first house had bullet holes from World War II. There had been heavy fighting through that area as Hitler was defeated. Bodies and old money were being dug up all the time. We didn’t do a lot of travelling as it was difficult with Frank but we did some sight seeing around West Germany, Belgium, France, Luxemburg and Austria. One vacation we went through Switzerland, across Southern Germany and a tiny corner of Austria mostly to see the country.
This way Frank worked through his junior high years and was ready for high school when we came home. This experience opened up doors for me as well. I really was learning to love to learn. I couldn’t get enough. We used the library a lot and I started my upper level education then.
We had a cleaning woman in Bitburgh who was a good clean person but I discovered that she was taking some things. I saw some in her purse one day, so I knew she was doing it. It wasn’t much but it was disturbing. After we moved into base housing, she was not as dependable. Then we found she had stolen some money from an officer’s wife and she was barred from working on base again. I didn’t get another one.
Our unit on base was situated near the hospital and Frank was able to go to therapy every day. I could walk him over after we had got down the 7 steps to the ground level from our first level apartment. One day I tried to hurry things up and took him down in the wheelchair. I couldn’t hold him and sat down on the top step and bumped down each step as I held the wheel chair upright. I didn’t try that again. I took his wheelchair down and used the rolling chair we used in the house to take him to the top. Then I walked him down each step and up again when we came back. One day, as I was going down those steps, I slipped on the top landing and fell on my back all the way down. It really scared Frank but, fortunately, all I did was strain my back and it was stiff and sore for a few days.
I began to notice that I was having trouble hearing soon after Jerry was born. The most obvious times were at PTA meetings in Dayton where I couldn’t hear a word the principle said when she was talking in the meetings. I was alright in a one to one conversation. The person losing their hearing is not aware of it for sometime so it took me several years to decide I needed a hearing aid. I bought a Zenith pocket model, but since I didn’t usually have a pocket in a convenient spot, I attached it to my bra and the cord went up my neck to the ear piece. I always tried to wear beads to hold the cord in place. But it was a nuisance. I had a control put on my telephone while I was working for the Easter Seal Society (Crippled Children). It didn’t help very much. So while I was in Germany, I decided to have surgery as there was a doctor in Wiesbaden AFB Hospital who specialized in the surgery. He thought he could help me with a surgery called stapes, or filling the bone away from the little bones in my inner ear as they had grown immobile with calcium. A condition called otosclerosis. He operated on the left ear first without too much success. Then he did the right with enough success that I didn’t have to wear a hearing aid for many years. Frank took it for a while until they could get his eustation tubs equalized with little tubes in his ears. I also had a D&C (dilation and curettage) while I was in Germany. I never really did know why they did that. It may have been something they thought they saw during a pelvic exam or they just wanted to practice the surgery. Who knows. I remember when Jerry was born, the nurse examined me and thought she saw a finger coming which turned out to be a small tag probably from another delivery. She called the doctor out of bed and he wasn’t very happy about that.
Frank had surgery to bring an undescended testicle down and while he was out, they siphoned the liquid from his eustation tubes. They did that to Jerry once while he was sitting in the examination chair. He fainted. Jerry was having some hearing problems when he was in the second grade in Utah and the doctor cleared that up with a tonsil-adenoidectomy. While Frank was in the hospital, I had to be on hand to feed him and stay with him at night. It was nice that I was close and could run home now and then. Jerry tells me he fell on some ice in Germany and hurt his elbow. He said he told me but I didn’t pay any attention. I guess I didn’t because I don’t remember it. It proved to be a serous injury as he grew up and got to the point that he couldn’t rotate his left arm. It swells on occasions and he has to have it tapped. How could I have missed such an occasion.
Jerry had had a hernia operation while we were in Morocco, too. Jim got to be on hand for him while I stayed with Frank. Jerry went in the night before the surgery and they wouldn’t let him eat. But they brought Jim a plate and Jerry unhappily accused Jim of eating his dinner.
Jim was a Chief Master Sgt. by this time. He had been one of the first in the Air Force to make Senior Master Sgt. and was soon promoted to Chief. In Bitburg, that gave him the job of being the building supervisor in our housing unit. That meant they were to come to him with their problems. This was not very much fun as it always involved us in marital fights. One nice couple above us fought a lot. She was pregnant and one night he kicked her in the stomach. The baby was later born dead. Another couple in the middle stairwell whose name was Moore too, Andy and Margaret, were our friends and he worked with Jim. He was playing around with their German maid and caused a lot of trouble with her. Margaret and Andy had 4 small children very close together, one set of twins. She would call Jim to go out to find him in the middle of the night. Jim would go hoping he wouldn’t find him. I would go over and stay with the kids while they were out. One night Andy came home while I was there and it was rather embarrassing. We had them both at our house another time when he had come home from Tripoli without letting Margaret know and went to see the maid. Margaret got wind of it and went to pieces. She came to our place and collapsed. Her parents were visiting and were home with the babies. We even had the base commander there. Someone finally found Andy and he came home. Then everybody went home but we were all upset.
Germany was strange in a different way than Morocco. We had the tensions of the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany. The base was supposed to be war ready. They were sending men to Tripoli to practice bombing runs. Jim spent 6 weeks at a time down there every couple of months. Then we would have alerts with sirens going off in the middle of the nights. If Jim was at home, he would have to jump up and go. If he was not, I would wonder if it was the real thing or not. During the days, the families in housing went into the basements with the mice and broken windows to wait for the all clear. We were instructed to have supplies ready to go in case we had to evacuate the area. Jim, of course, would not be able to go with us and we were supposed to know the evacuation route to a place in France. We took the route on Sunday afternoon so it got us over into France for some interesting sight seeing. But, as close as we were, we didn’t ever get to Paris, regrettably.
On January 28, 1962, I got a telephone call from home telling me that Dad had died. They would hold the funeral services for me to get there if I could go. I couldn’t see spending that money and flying that far when he was already dead. So I said I would not come. I felt sad but I was never very close to Dad. He always seemed so old and far removed from my world. He had been hospitalized since he had broken his hip and life wasn’t all that good for him. It was time for him to go. It was alright.
With all the tension in Germany, it was no surprise that my nerves began to go. In retrospect, it was the beginning of menopause and could be something to expect. But I wasn’t that well informed about menopause and it was rather soon. The doctor wasn’t much help either. Maybe he didn’t know. But he passed out the tranquilizers. I found that wine helped too. I would wake up out of a sound sleep shaking all over for no reason. I had to get up and move around and make sure I was alive. A case of anxiety, I later found out. It was scary, though, and I was glad to leave Germany and back to my home ground.
We came home in December, 1962. A friend took us to Frankfurt to board our plane. We left our room there about 8am and were to board the plane that morning. The base was fogged in and the flight was canceled. Sometime during the day we were put on busses and taken to Kaiserslautern to take off. We got there in the evening and had dinner and waited. Finally our flight was ready and we boarded late in the evening for the flight to McGuire. All of this time Frank had not been able to go to the bathroom. We flew all night and landed at McGuire in the morning. By the time we got a room, Frank was so uptight he couldn’t urinate. I laid him down and gave him a tranquilizer and left him. He finally relaxed enough to relieve himself. No wonder he was later to have kidney problems.
But we were home! At that point we didn’t have a home at all. While we rested, Jim picked up our car and we began traveling the snow covered Pennsylvania Turnpike to Wooster, Ohio where Dad and Grace were living on a pheasant farm. We had Christmas with them and crossed the country to have New Years with my family in Utah. Then, in January, 1963, we joined many friends from Germany at George Air Force Base at Victorville, California. I had always wanted to live in California since the days Pearl and George would come back from a trip there and bring us the most beautiful navel oranges. It seemed like such a grand golden state to live in no doubt because the movies were made here and a lot of our television shows originated here. It had a mystique for me. And, finally, here I was. Victorville, in the desert, was not exactly what I had dreamed of. It was more like Texas to me or at least West Texas.
This time, after a day or two with the Nashes, we stayed in a guest house on base until we could get quarters. Getting housing was getting easier now that we were getting close to retirement, and we were 42 years old. Still, housing was not really all that great. We got a unit in a fourplex with two bedrooms all right on ground level. It was here I got better acquainted with Jane, who lived across the open space from us. I had met her in Germany, but didn’t realize what an interesting person she was. She had been going to school all along and was going in Victorville. We had some wonderful intellectual conversations in the short time we were there. She opened more doors for me and picked my interest in continuing my education. And, at this point, I am very frustrated that I cannot remember her last name. She later moved back east and I have lost track of her because she did not write letters. Her name was Jane Pettigrew.
Jerry went to school to finish his 6th grade but there was no school for Frank in Victor Valley. So we started looking around for one for him down the hill at Riverside and San Barnardino. With Jim’s rating, they only needed one at a base and it was difficult. He did get in at March AFB at Riverside in the reserves and we bought a house in Redlands. Number 12 Ash Street, Redlands became our last home. I have counted 28 houses I have lived in to this point. Jerry was ready for junior high and Frank for high school and they were able to graduate from high school without another move. Frank was accepted at the handicapped school at Crafton located way outside the city of Redlands. He could take a bus but I had to go out and feed him lunch. With only one car to work with, I took a taxi out and back for a while until we got our second car.
Before we moved to Redlands, Jerry was the focus of the family as a lead in Jack and the Beanstalk. Not really lead, he was the giant, and a good one. I had to dress him for the part and it was a problem getting shoes for the part. I found a pattern and made them out of felt. He was a hit. Then, on Easter while we were visiting Lois and her family, he was playing on their trampoline when Graig threw a ball under him. He came down on the ball rather than the trampoline and twisted his knee tearing a cartilage. After an attempt to mobilize it with a cast, they operated to correct it. We took his report card to him in the hospital and he had an A in math. His remark was that someone had goofed.
When Frank started at Crafton, it was pretty hot at the beginning of the year and the school had no air conditioning. Frank wilted by noon and they thought he could not work a full day and sent him home at noon for me to work with him. On November 22, 1963, just before they brought him home on the bus, President Kennedy was shot. We spent the rest of the weekend glued to the TV watching history unfold through his funeral services on Sunday. What a weekend that was. We were all drained as if it was one of the family.
Frank went on to high school in Redlands where they had just opened an occupationally handicapped class. I still had to go and feed him all through his high school years. My friend and neighbor, Ruth Van, was working on the lunch program and I would ride over with her, feed him and walk home reading a book as I walked. I often stopped at the fabric store and went through the remnants. I made more blouses that year. Finally, Jim agreed that we were indeed a two car family after all and we bought a ’59 Chev station wagon.
Besides feeding him at school, I was at his elbow while he typed on an electric typewriter to turn pages and replace paper. I finally devised a roll made from newspaper roll ends which didn’t have to be replaced so often. But I couldn’t go to bed until he was satisfied that he had done his work for the day. Sometimes it was late into the night before I could get him into bed. He typed with a peg on his head which was very slow. But he was persistent and smart. He was getting A’s in everything but typing where he got a C. How stupid can you be. I was also getting a good high school review that would help me.
In 1965, his junior year, Frank made the honor roll and was an usher at the graduation exercises for the seniors which was quite an honor. Then in ’66, he graduated with exceptional academic honors, joined the Scholarship Club where he was given a life time membership with a gold pin and a gold seal on his diploma. I was so wrapped up in the activities then I hadn’t noticed that my driver’s license had expired the past November. I was stopped because the car was smoking and had to go to court in the middle of all the activities.
Jim retired from the Air Force in 1966 and while Frank was at the Easter Seal Camp, we took a whole week off to drive up to Reba and Kirk’s place in Medford, Oregon. Reba, Billy and Becky had visited us once in Ogden but we hadn’t seen them since. We took Lois’s boy, Terry and he stayed a while. Jim had gotten a call from the Post Office to go to work right away so we had to come back. We drove down the coast to San Francisco but all I got to see of that city was the skyline from across the bay from Oakland. I have yet to see San Francisco.
Frank’s rehabilitation counselor had arranged for him to go to San Barnardino Valley College in the fall. I was going to have to take him so I took my entrance exam that summer. I surprised myself by getting a 98% in English which enabled me to take the college English along with Frank whose major was English and Journalism. He had written for the Hobachi, the high school paper, and with the help of our neighbor, Roger Woods, who was a physics professor there, he had a byline on the War Hoop. I was able to go to most of the classes with him while we were trying our wings.
I had always thought of myself as a very average student but my first experience at college proved me wrong. I didn’t take very many units at first until I could see how it would go with Frank. But the year I took 12, enough for a full course, I made the Dean’s list, along with Frank, and we were honored in an assembly.
It wasn’t easy to get Frank started at Valley as it hadn’t been all along the way. Some of the teachers looked at him and said, “But he can’t go to school, he drools.” He certainly did, but that hadn’t stopped him before and it didn’t stop him now. Our good friend, Roger Woods, went to bat for him here too. He talked to our counselor who was the Dean of Women, Miss McCarthy, and assured her and everyone else that Frank could do the job and from then on the only trouble we had were the steps and toilet facilities. Vocational Rehab would go to any lengths for Frank and hired people to help him up and down steps and take notes in class. But they weren’t always where they were supposed to be and we had to wait for someone to help us. One day on the second floor of the Ad Building, no one would help us and we just had to wait. Finally, the head of the Psy Dept gave us a hand.
Frank took a class in Psychology of the Personality. They had a late class and Frank was exerting his independence from me. He was tired of me being his shadow all the time. He told me to leave. The class seemed to think I got my kicks by being his mother (super mom) who needed to be needed. So I left. There wasn’t anyplace to go as I had to be there when he was through. So I went into the Student Union to study. I went back when the class was over. They were bringing him down the steps. Mr. Thrasher, his professor, was looking for me and seemed relieved to see me. I don’t think he was quite sure I would be there and then what would he do.
The Vietnam War was a hot issue while Frank was in high school and he wrote about it in the paper. His ideas were not too popular with the staff then. It was still hot while we were at Valley and Frank and I both got involved. I did stand in some quiet demonstrations there, but mainly I took Frank if he wanted to go and he usually did. He was involved in some in Redlands but I didn’t want to put my body where my ideas were because Jim was not very happy about any interference with the military’s stand over there. I really kept a low profile, but I did have my opinions. Once in a while I ventured to voice them. The boys and I were in accord and Jim stood alone in his thinking. When they started drafting the boys, Jerry didn’t have to go because of his knee and his arm that he had hurt in Germany. He was #12 on the list. Jim and I were both happy that he didn’t have to go. I was against the draft because the war had not been declared…a little detail that should not be overlooked.
Jerry graduated in ’69 and he went on to Valley to study Telecommunications. Frank and I had gone 2 years and Frank was ready to transfer to a 4 year college. With the help of Rehab again, he got a house in Muscoy with a male nurse (that term is used loosely), who took care of him and took him to school where students took over. And Frank went on to California State College at San Bernardino. He wanted to go farther away but we could not arrange it.
Jerry had taken up the guitar in high school and with a couple of neighbors, played a few engagements like rest homes for $25 an hour. Then we got him a set of drums and they got a rock group together. They practiced in the garages and living rooms. That was the beginning of many practice sessions in our living room which the neighbors bore in relative silence. They changed names and musicians and went on practicing in the living room.
I went on with my studies at Valley after Frank left and had enough units for an Associated Arts degree but did not apply for the degree as I really didn’t think it was very important and Jim seemed to feel threatened by it all. I was playing the low profile game which seemed to be becoming a habit. I could go on adding units to units at Valley, but I decided that I was not going on mostly because of the money involved and stopped going to stay home and be the good housewife.
Frank and his nurse were living in Muscoy but I was given the responsibility of handling the money that Frank was granted to maintain his household. I paid the nurse’s wages and turned in his Social Security, paid the bills and bought groceries. But things weren’t going too well with them. Frank complained that the nurse was threatening him with a gun and was drinking. One weekend, Frank called on his telephone that the telephone company had put in for him. It had an automatic dialer. The nurse told us then that he was not going to kiss Frank’s butt to keep the job so we went over and brought Frank home. The nurse came over and said he didn’t say that and wanted to stay with it. Frank went back but didn’t stay long. He came home one weekend sick with the flu and said he thought he was having a nervous breakdown. He didn’t want to go back again. So we gave up the house. Jerry and I went over and cleaned it up. They had obviously had a fire while cooking and I replaced the kitchen curtains and washed down the walls. Then Frank moved in with friends from the college and was much happier. I still bought groceries from the commissary for him but that was all.
When the other students gave up that house, Frank and Jerry moved in together in an apartment in Highland. They had looked without success so I went with Jerry to look at this place. The manager was so impressed that the brothers were going to college and Jerry was taking care of Frank and she let them have it. However, I assured her that I would see that it was kept clean and I did. We gave them our oldest station wagon as we had 3 now. And finally Jim and I were alone to do our thing.
Frank went into the hospital at the Loma Linda Medical Center, while he was still with the students, and had surgery to correct bladder problems. One of the friends he was living with called me to see if it would be alright to take Frank to a doctor there and I said yes. Frank was over 21 now and trying to be on his own. The doctor scheduled surgery to do a trans-urethral section. I had a full schedule at Valley at that time, but was still expected to feed him and see that he was ok. I had one night class and would go by after class to see if he needed anything before he went to sleep. Then he came home to recuperate.
While Frank and Jerry were living together, Frank made plans and a reservation to fly out of Los Angeles to Washington, DC to visit a friend. Jerry took him to the airport but when they saw Frank planning to travel alone they said no! Another airline took him if they could find someone else going who would sit with him. Jerry looked around and found another long hair and made arrangements and Frank was on his way. I had visions of trouble and Frank without his talking board and couldn’t communicate with anyone. But everything went well. When he came back, Jerry went down to pick him up and they came back to our house. Jerry was pretty uptight because Frank was telling him that he had invited a girl to come and live with them. She was to come in a month. This girl, as Frank explained to us, was withdrawn and wouldn’t talk to anyone. He had gotten her to talk to him on his talking board and he felt so good about opening her up, he wanted to bring her home and take care of her. This situation was between Frank and Jerry, but they only had a one bedroom apartment with a contract for 2 people. I didn’t see how it would work out or how Frank was going to take care of her. Somehow in this discussion, Frank heard that I said nobody could love him. He told me later that he had decided then and there that I was no longer his mother and he felt no duty or love for me any longer. The girl, incidentally, never came.
As this decade ended, relationships in our family were becoming strained. Jim was alienating his relationship with the boys and it was getting harder for me to live with him. Nothing I could do was right. Our last Christmas together as a family, we were invited to Frank and Jerry’s place on Christmas Eve. They had a tree in the middle of the small living room. Lynn, Jerry’s girl friend, had made pastries and they wanted us to open our presents there. There was no liquor or beer served and Jim was getting restless. We didn’t stay very long. Jim wanted to go to the bar. Jerry and Frank went their ways on Christmas Day. We had our New Years alone together but the 60s went out on a very low note.
Jim’s group was moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio and we moved into our first base housing. It was a real come-down from our little house with 2 bedrooms in Highland. They were barrack-types, really thrown together. We were assigned a tiny 1 bedroom apartment at first. There wasn’t much room for the equipment we were using for Frank. So, when one was available, they gave us a two bedroom at 330 Hillside Avenue. At least it was bigger. One Sunday we decided to go for a drive back to visit friends in Wilmington. I never got back home that day. About half way down we went through an intersection and met a black man backing up our lane and Jim was unable to avoid him. Neither of us was going very fast but the impact threw Frank and me into the dashboard. Frank had a tooth knocked out and I came out of it with a broken jaw and minus 6 front teeth. Jim took us on to the hospital at Wilmington emergency and they sent us back to the base hospital at WPAFB. They treated Frank and sent him home with Jim. I went into oral surgery on a Sunday evening when they couldn’t get the drugs they needed. But they got the surgeon and he went to work cleaning out my gums and setting my jaw without anesthetic. They gave me something like laughing gas as I remember everything was funny until they started to work. I tried to let them know I wasn’t out but they obviously knew that and kept right on. I remember groaning but it seemed to come from someone else and it really didn’t matter anymore.
After the surgery was over, they gave me a shot to put me to sleep but it had no effect on me by then. I had no teeth to wire together, so they tied a splint in my mouth and bandaged my head to keep the jaw in place. I spent the next 6 weeks in the hospital eating fluids and anything that would slide through the small opening. I drank a lot of soup and milk shakes but lost about a pound a week. We had a club going in our ward and we could go into the kitchen any time we wanted to fix something. My gums had to heal before they could put a bridge in so I had to go all summer without front teeth. I planned to stay home a lot, but there were too many activities that the family would enjoy so I went along and tried not to smile. I was never able to get a good bridge fitted because my molars were too short but 3 dentists tried including one in Germany. Many years went by before I got a good permanent bridge anchored with gold crowns on the molars and gold backing the bridge. At the cost of gold now, my mouth is worth more than the rest of me.
After the hospital visit, I got pregnant again. Jim was going away a lot on TDY (temporary duty). When I was about 5 months pregnant, he went to Germany for a couple of weeks. The day Jim left, I got Frank ready to take to therapy and we went out to the parking area but couldn’t find the car. One neighbor helped me get the insurance agent and another took us to therapy. The insurance company tracked it down in Kentucky where it had been abandoned by the teenagers who had stolen it with a key they found in another car. They had really worked it over and it had to be towed back and repaired before we got it back. So, for a few weeks, I experienced what it was like not to have a car in this day of high mobility.
Frank was getting therapy regularly. He enjoyed working with the therapists and they liked him. So, when Jerry was due, we left Frank in the convalescent hospital as an in patient till I was able to take care of him again. They told us Frank felt we had given him up for the new baby. But the therapists took him to therapy every day and talked to him and he felt better. Jim went to see him often and I kept in touch. Then he got chicken pox from someone in the hospital and couldn’t come home until he was over that.
We gave Frank a brother, Jerry Neal, on March 14, 1951, born at the WPAFB Hospital. I went in early with false labor and due to a heart problem they detected, I had to stay. I recalled that they would find something wrong with my heart one year at school and wouldn’t let me take gym. Then the next year they would let me. One point, they warned me not to run upstairs or I might fall over dead. The doctor put me on digitalis until delivery. I had a normal delivery when he finally decided to come, and Jerry was a healthy, normal boy. I was on a strict diet and came out of the hospital nice and thin. We brought Frank home and then they told me that Aunt Harriet was dying in the Mansfield hospital. They had not told me about it before because I was about to be a mother. She had leukemia and had been sick for some time. When she died, I had a new baby and Frank to care for and couldn’t go with Jim. He joined Harriet, Grace and Dad for the funeral services in Mansfield and they took her body back to Monongahela, Pennsylvania to bury with the Moore family.
With Jerry, we could find our own name since Frank had the father’s names. We liked Gary but there was a Gary Moore on TV so we settled for Jerry. The middle name is for my mother, Cornelia, which was always shortened to Neely or Neel. We made it Neal and gave it to Jerry.
The Air Force life was very interesting but, as any life, it had its drawbacks. In some ways, all the moving was broadening and other ways it was a pain. I always lived in dread of Jim being sent overseas where we couldn’t go or into a hazard area. We had been together since Christmas of ’42, except for a few days TDY, which was bad enough. When he left, my life seemed to stop and wait for him to come home to continue. I did a lot of waiting. We were about to get a taste of the frustrations of family life in the military.
Jim’s first orders about November, 1952, sent him to San Antonio, Texas for a brief period before an overseas assignment. The housing rules were that after the sponsor left a base, the dependents could not live in housing. So we found a place to live until we could join Jim again. We moved into a nice 2 bedroom apartment at 27 Smithville Rd., in Dayton. One of the nicest places we had lived so far. Jim left us there and went on to San Antonio to school. From day to day, his letters reported frustration as he waited to be “picked” for interviews and then starting school without knowing how long it was going to be or where he would be going. He came home and spent Christmas but we had to send him back to wait. By June, it didn’t seem as though much was happening and he began processing orders for us to join him. Frank was in kindergarten at Gorman School for the physically handicapped in Dayton. They picked up our household goods the day he finished school. I got everything packed and ready for the movers and let them have at it. Jerry and I attended a party at Frank’s school and then started for San Antonio. Frank was tired and lay in the back seat. Jerry, age 2, sat on a suit case and drove his little steering wheel. We stopped and picnicked along the way. We stopped that night at a motel. It was so hot and with the air conditioning was too noisy for me to sleep so about 3am, I packed the kids in the car asleep and started driving. Late that afternoon we were in Austin and I called Jim to tell him where I was. He met me on the outskirts of San Antonio and drove us to our new home. It was never really home as we were only to stay there 2 weeks. We didn’t really get unpacked and we were on our way again. We knew some people from the Clinton County base and we had fun renewing our relationship, saw a little of San Antonio including the Alamo which was closed the day we went. Then we were off to Salt Lake.
In June, 1953, Jim had his orders to go to Neusser, French Morocco which included a leave time for him to take us to Salt Lake to find a place before he reported to his embarkation point. We found an apartment on 6th East and 13th South and settled in and Jim left us for 8 months before we could join him. It was so lonely without him. Having the family around helped. I was close to Vera and Ben whose son Roger was the same age as Jerry, and Martha and Eldon whose son Russell was close to Frank. The boys enjoyed getting acquainted with their cousins. Martha had always been my special friend and confidant from the time Eldon brought her home as his new bride before I was married. But most of the time I was tied at home with the kids as it was difficult to get around a lot with Frank in a wheelchair. I spent a lot of time with Mother and Dad on Sunday afternoons. Frank started school at the University of Utah Medical Center at Fort Douglas where they had special classes. It was obvious by this time that he was not mentally retarded. He was learning to read and doing very well.
Winter drew near and my landlord grew anxious about when we were going to move. I couldn’t tell him and it upset me so much that I finally moved in with Mother and Dad to get him off my back. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with them. Gordon gave me a job in the Christmas Tree business he had every year. This year he was located on the corner of Wentworth Avenue and State Street so I could work and check on the kids at home with Mother and Dad. That helped my income as we planned to go overseas. I also sold Christmas cards to make some money for the trip. It was interesting contacting old friends. One was Sylvia Gigi that I grew up with. Frank rode a bus to school which helped a lot.
Jim came home to assist us travelling to Morocco. He arrived in February after they had picked up our household goods and we were ready to drive across the States to Brooklyn, New York. That was a long cold drive. We visited friends in Ohio and New Jersey. We left the car in port and we boarded the Navy General H.F. Hodges and began our, the boys and my, first ocean trip. It was quite an experience. It took a little doing, as Jim was not assigned to our cabin on the water line, to get Jim assigned with us. There was a woman in our cabin who was more than willing to relinquish her bed to Jim probably because of the kids. Frank had to be fed in the cabin but the rest of us had to go to the dining room. Jerry loved that. He could order anything he wanted whether or not he wanted to eat it. What power. When we went up on deck, Jim had to carry Frank up the swaying stairs. There were days during a storm when we had to stay on deck to keep from getting sick, and the nights it was a struggle to stay in the bunks. The water on the tables sloshed over on the table cloths. We were on the water 14 days. On February 16, 1954, we got a little newspaper called the “Sea Foam”. It told us we were 2,852 miles from New York and 315 miles from Casablanca. We had travelled 420 miles that day. The world news reported heavy fighting by the French Union Forces from Saigon and Laos, names that would much later become house hold words to us all. Generalissimo Chaing-Kai-Shek was trying to retire in Formosa. Tokyo reported 250 men were in Indo China to instruct the French in the use of our planes and not fighting. Senator Watkins of Utah criticized the situation. We landed in Casablanca on February 17, 1954.
Morocco was a strange land for my first overseas experience. We had a nice house, by Morocco standards, in a place called Oasis, outside of Casablanca. Our neighbor and Jim’s co-worker, Larry Blackwell, picked us up from the dock and took us to our new home and then took Jim out to the base to sign in. We did have breakfast with Larry and his family then his wife left for the afternoon. Larry had stocked our cupboard with a few groceries but I had to borrow a can opener and pan to fix our lunch. Jerry was ready to explore the place and he was gone. I was frantic as I didn’t know who and where the Americans were yet. An Arabic woman named Zora, who was later to be our cleaning woman, could see my plight and told me where Jerry was. So I met my new neighbors behind the house next door who had a boy Jerry’s age and I retrieved Jerry.
Our house was white stucco with a patio porch all ground level. Beautiful black wrought iron protected the windows from entry and we also had roll down shutter type blinds that protected from the inside and also kept out the hot African sun. It was like jail to keep anyone, meaning Arabs, of course, from breaking in and stealing us blind. Some of them probably would as someone did break into our garage and took our tools. But Zora proved to be a very dependable and honest person. She cleaned our house every day while I took Frank to school and worked with him at home. She washed our clothes in the bathtub as that was the only place we had hot water. She was very good with the boys and stayed with them when we went out. We did have sinks and toilets but the drains emptied in troughs under the house. Thanks to the base, we were supplied with refrigerators that would run on their cycle. Our TV’s were no good and we learned to live without them. We heated each room with a kerosene space heater and we only could afford one. Frank wore long leg pelvic braces at that time but we didn’t do much with therapy then but we did try to get him into school. We means me as I was usually the one to take him and work out our problems with the school. The school was sympathetic but did not take him because he didn’t fit in at that point. So we worked at home with books I had brought from Salt Lake and got him through 2nd grade and ready for 3rd. Then I just registered him and took him in the first day of school. His poor teacher didn’t know what to do about that. She was frantic as she had never had any experience with teaching the handicapped and I thought I was going to have to back down. There were other teachers there who had had some experience and they wouldn’t let Frank’s teacher quit. They promised to help and I did and Frank stayed.
I took Frank to school every day 10 miles away because he couldn’t ride the bus. I stayed on base, with Jerry in tow, while he was in class. Frank did well by bringing his books home and we did the written work there. He made a hit with the kids and one little girl would have willingly done his work for him.
I spent a lot of time sitting in the car and did a lot of reading. When Jerry was 4, they let him go to kindergarten as we were on base anyway. I would sit in the car until the Base Exchange opened and Jerry knew I was there. So, if he got tired of school, he would just find me. We finally got that stopped and he was OK.
Now it was time for me to think about religion for the kids. It was easy then as all we had was the base chapel which was nondenominational. We attended that and the kids started Sunday School and Vacation Bible School which I usually helped out with. Part of the time it was on base and then they rented a large villa outside of Casablanca and made a chapel out of the barn where we went to church. The house was used for classes. There was a nice swimming pool we used on occasion. Frank was 8 at this time and we talked about baptizing him. He had been blessed in an LDS Church in Columbus and Jerry in one in Dayton. Frank wanted to be baptized by submersion so the chaplain did the ceremony in the base swimming pool. He was very elated and really felt good about that.
We spent 18 months in Morocco. At the end of our stay in the summer of 1955, Morocco was experiencing a civil war and it became dangerous to live in town. They were moving everyone into trailers on base. We were waiting our orders to come home so we had to give up our house and move into a hotel in Casablanca with Air Force families. That was difficult with Frank so for a week or 2 we moved with friends in their trailer and left Frank in the nursery where he had made friends with the people who ran it from church and school days. They took care of him at night and I fed him during the day. Our final weekend we were assigned to a little Quonset hut to stay until we boarded the plane to go home.
On our flight home, we landed first in the Azores for lunch. I didn’t think much of the landing but the take off again was over water and was a little scary. We knew when we took off that there was a hurricane en route and we were flying around it. For a while we thought we would land in Bermuda, but 16 hours later we put down at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey about 3 am. We got a room there where Frank was able to go to the bathroom for the first time since we left the Azores. We had sent the car home early and it was in port. No, we bought our 1955 “Green Giant”, our first station wagon, and it was waiting in port. We drove through Pennsylvania to visit Jim’s family and on to Salt Lake. Jim was to be assigned to Hill Air Force Base at Clearfield. We rented a large house on Healy Street in Ogden. Jerry started kindergarten again here as he was not old enough to go to first grade.
This was a 1½ story brick with a full basement which housed a small apartment the owners rented. There was a large yard with all kinds of fruit and berries and grapes. The strawberry patch overwhelmed us after I got the weeds cleared out of them. We planted a garden in about half the space available but didn’t fertilize it. We didn’t get much from it. Frank was able to go to a handicapped class in a school on 12th Street and was picked up by bus. The parents were expected to volunteer often and I spent a lot of time there working with all of the children. I was active in PTA and was vice president one year. I got quite influential with the schools and the Crippled Children’s Society for which I worked as part time executive secretary with Feola Barton for $50 a month. Feola had a new baby and I took the whole job for $100 a month. It was a fun job I did mostly at home with help from the family. I distributed Easter Seal campaign mailing to be stuffed and got them into the mails. I picked up the donations at the bank and deposited it. I kept files of big donators and enlarged on the mailing list. I went alone or with the state Executive Secretary to visit other parent groups. The last one I went to alone was just before Jim left for Germany. It was the night before he left so he went with me. He wouldn’t go so far as to go to the meeting with me, he found a beer joint to fill his time. We were closely involved in fun raisers with people like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and TV fund raisers. I hated to leave that behind but the Air Force had first priority in our lives and it was our livelihood.
Being back in Utah, I was forced to think seriously about my religious preference. I decided to try the Mormon Church since it surely was predominant. I took the kids (Jim would not go) and we went to Sunday School and Primary. Our landlord was a bishop in Salt Lake and he had friends in the Ogden ward as they had lived in our house before they rented it. I told them to leave Jim alone but things are not done that way in the Mormon Church. We soon had the home missionaries at our door. We gave them permission to come for the series. Jim had his questions about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, etc. But I already knew that I did not believe in what they were presenting as the “truth” and I had to tell them so. At that pint, I decided that if God was saying anything to me, He was saying “This is not for you.” That didn’t make sense in the Mormon context that God was telling Joseph Smith the “TRUTH”. Of course the church representatives have their answers to that but they didn’t satisfy me. So, at that point, I knew I could not go back to the Mormon Church anymore and, as a family we started attending the Presbyterian Church in Ogden and later to the Lutheran Church in Roy.
This was not easy as Mother wanted me to be a Mormon and raise my boys as Mormons if I didn’t get my husband to join. She had to know what I was doing and it hurt her very much. I had to make her look at the fact that she hadn’t raised me to be a Mormon, through no lack of effort on her part. She didn’t want to take the responsibility for that but she wanted me to take the responsibility for my boys. She finally came around a little and accepted that maybe it wasn’t so bad if I saw that they went to some church. She even came to a dinner we had at church once and attended Jerry’s baptism. Jerry chose to be sprinkled and that ceremony was done at the Lutheran Church in Roy. Neither of the boys have ever joined a church as Jim never did. That was and is fine with me. I joined one not with my free will and I have become an apostate to that faith and never accepted another. I was later more able to define what my religious philosophy was.
During the 50’s, I fulfilled my need to be a do-gooder as a Den Mother for the Cub Scouts. I started in Morocco in order to let Frank have the experience to his greatest potential. He went on into Scouts with the help of his father. I carried on with Jerry in Ogden, Roy and Germany. It was a fun experience for me. Our house we bought in Roy in January, 1958 was a new ranch style white frame in a tract at 2275 West 6000 South right on the south west corner. We put in our first yard, and only one. Frank was still being picked up to go to school in Ogden and Jerry was in 2nd grade in the Roy Elementary School close by. As the decade came to a close, Jim was once again taken from us and sent to Germany before the end of ’59. The boys and I spent that Christmas alone in our new house. We opened our gifts at home and then spent the day with Martha and Eldon in Murray with their family. On New Year’s Eve, I went to the NCO Club at Hill Field with a friend whose husband was working until midnight. We saw that decade out and celebrated the new and I went home alone to wait for Jim to get housing for us in Bitburg, Germany and send for us.
As I was finishing my junior and senior year in high school preparing myself for a possible career in the business world, Private James F. Moore, AF6914381, was doing his basic training and was following the direction of his orders to Salt Lake and eventually, on his own, to Wooley’s Roller Skating Rink where we were destined to meet. This event took place shortly before Christmas, 1940. I invited the lonely soldier to Christmas dinner and Aunt Lizzy was there. In her kidding way, she prophetically asked me to introduce my future husband. Jim was amused at my embarrassment.
Jim, by this time Private 1st Class, was from Washington, Pennsylvania, which was part of his attraction. Pennsylvania was so far away from Utah, so much more sophisticated. I was awed. It was all so very romantic. I learned that he had graduated 5th in his class (and I was a drop-out returned) and that his sister Harriet was 1st. Nobody was that smart in my circles (I thought). I was falling in love. On one date the question of age came up. I had turned 20 on my last birthday. Jim was 19. There was a big 8 months difference in our age and I was horrified. He was just a kid and I couldn’t handle it. I felt the whole relationship crumbling. It didn’t take me much time to get used to the idea because cupid was at work. We started planning marriage. I suggested it as he was shy. But he was in the service and World War II was fast approaching. We didn’t have time to play around with the idea long. Jim bought a Lincoln Mercury which kept him broke but offered us intimacy to cement our relationship. One night on his way to my house he had an accident out on State Street. After that he turned the car over to the insurance company and we carried on our romance by bus or borrowed car.
After we decided to marry, Jim wrote a letter to his dad telling him what we thought was good news. Dad did not think so. Jim was just a kid and since I was still in school (the fact that I had gone back hadn’t been explained to him) sounded like I was kid and didn’t know from nothing. “What were my parents thinking to let me get married.” He certainly did not want him to. Jim showed me the letter and I wrote to him. He never said, at least not to me, but he must have been pretty disgusted at Jim for showing me the letter.
We were married at my home on May 3, 1941 with my family present. No one from his family was there. It was not a formal wedding. Justice of Peace, our neighbor from across the street, performed the ceremony. We didn’t have money for announcements and it may have been awkward for Evelyn and Dad. And they were having marital problems at the time which may have been a problem. However it was, they did not come to our wedding. I wore what was to be my graduation dress (formal) in one month, all pink and sheer. Jim also wore his graduation suit, a dark blue pin striped accented with a bandage on his forehead covering a cut he had received a few days earlier from an airplane propeller. He was an airplane mechanic. Thanks to Reba, we had a reception at the house with a few friends and then we went to our new apartment. Our honeymoon was to be only the weekend as the Air Force came first and sent the whole squadron to Yellowstone Park for a 2 week vacation. I never heard of such a thing again.
Our honeymoon apartment was a one bedroom remodeled old house on E Street 2nd Avenue with a lovely dinette fashioned from a glassed in porch. We had a wall-to-wall bath tub with wash basin and toilet tucked tightly in place. The tub just barely accommodated one person which was more fun for the newlyweds in a conjugal bath. One day Reba brought a friend to visit us while we were so engaged. She was horrified that we took baths together. After a month or two, we moved across the hall to an apartment with lots more closet space, a larger kitchen and a shower. Showers can be fun too. We had our first party in this home with mostly the brothers and sisters and husbands. I remember Vera’s husband going into our walk-in closet and coming out with a lamp shade on his head. That was Cal, the life of the party. We had a record player with records of Glenn Miller, etc. Our song was Frenesie (in don’t know how to spell it). One I remember so well was “Blue Berry Hill”. Our special place had been the hill over the capital building along with everyone else. It offered a splendid view of the city and valley. We had a lovely fireplace in this apartment which probably didn’t work but we never tried it.
It was from this apartment bedroom that I bid my warrior goodbye when he went off to the war, after just 6 months of wedding bliss.
I continued school under false pretenses. They had seen our marriage license in the paper and I would have had to quit if I was married. I didn’t want to do that at that late date. So I told them we had gotten our license but were to be married on Grad night. So in June, 1941, I donned my wedding dress again and joined the class of ’41 at South High School to receive my delayed diploma with my new husband and Mother and, I think, Lois in the audience. With this diploma in hand and the depression in full swing, I went looking for a job in the laundry again. This time it was the Palace Laundry that supplemented our income. Jim was corporal now but no pay increase. We lived on $80 a month. I walked back and forth to work as neither buses or money were available. On one trip down I remember seeing some women taking pictures in the doorway of an apartment house. I was to meet these women later. Their destinies had joined mine for a while. Their husbands were to go overseas with mine and we met and became friends in Monahans, Texas where I saw the snapshots. Beverly Sheets was the object of the picture.
The Air Force cut short our honeymoon again with overseas orders. He left, ironically, on November 11, 1941, the 23rd anniversary of the end of the war “to end all wars”. We said goodbye in our bedroom early that morning but I went down with him to meet his ride. Since it was a holiday and I wasn’t working, I picked up a kitten and took it upstairs with me to cheer me up. What it did was shit on my bedspread. Jim’s orders read “Plum”, interpreted as parts unknown, as he embarked from San Francisco on November 21. Nice birthday present. I had to give up the apartment and move back “home” as I would only get a small allotment for the next year and I did not make enough to support an apartment. So Lois willingly moved over in the bed we had formerly shared and let me back in.
Less than a month after Jim sailed, World War II broke out on the infamous day of December 7, 1941with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Jim had been in Hawaii at Oahu and visited his sister, Harriet about 10 days earlier. She was a nurse at Tripler General Hospital in the Army Nursing Corps and we had driven up to Ogden to meet her when she went over a few weeks earlier. On December 7, he was somewhere out in that big Pacific Ocean and I didn’t know where. We were all glued to the radio that day to hear the reports that were coming in. I was in shock. The month to come was the worst I have ever lived through, not knowing where Jim was or if he would ever come back to me. Finally, I had word that he had landed in Australia in January, ’42. I received a phone call from Java which I had to take at work. But what a thrill it was to hear his voice again and to know he was alive and alright. Shortly after that phone call, Java fell. The war was very real to me now and I watched the news closely. But I heard Jim had been sent back to Australia where he stayed until he returned to the States. I was so thankful he was taking care of the planes on the ground and not flying in them. I got more phone calls than letters, but I did get a little V-Mail letter now and then. They were light weight letters that folded and were ready to send without an envelope. I dogged the mail box for word and would be in heaven when one was there. I missed him so much.
During Jim’s stay overseas, I quit the laundry job and went to work at Remington Arms Plant that had opened as part of the war effort. It was way out on Redwood Road and 21st South. The depression had come to an end as the country geared for war. I was filling bullets for machine guns and later painting tips on what was called “tracers”. It was terribly boring assembly line production. We changed shifts every two weeks as we worked around the clock. It was so hard for me to stay awake during the long grave-yard shift. Eldon was working there too and he let me join the car pool without a car. The pay was good for my standards and I saved for the time Jim would come home and we could have our home again. But I also felt I was helping him to get back to me. I still skated and went to parties with the plant people. But I was so lonely for Jim, I just wanted to go somewhere and cry. The women I met at work were fun to be with. We got together on the days we were off and went bicycle riding around Liberty Park or horse back riding in the foothills. I never got the hang of the horse back riding. We also had dinner parties together.
At the rink, plans were in progress to take the competition winners back to Philadelphia for the national contests. They planned to go through Pittsburgh which was about 20 miles from Washington and I saw a chance to meet Jim’s family. I was invited to go and pay my way, since I was only a second place winner. I got leave from work and joined them. We drove together in Mr. Wooley’s car with his two daughters, Julia and Joyce with figure skating titles and a young man, whose name escapes me, who could also help drive. And I had my first experience of crossing state lines which I would do over and over again.
Meeting Jim had opened doors to new horizons for me and when I walked through, my life was never the same again. I was a little Mormon girl from Utah who knew precious little about that big world out there. I knew there were other churches that I had been told were preaching false doctrine without the sanction of God. The authority to teach God’s word rested with the Latter-Day Saints whose leaders had visions as Joseph Smith had. My blind faith had been shattered back there with Santa Claus and I really didn’t believe this. I had visited some of the other churches in Salt Lake with friends, but until Jim came along, I had never considered another option. I was a born and raised baptized Mormon. It just was. I had really had nothing to do with it. It was done for me and I had no reason not to accept it. But, now it was assumed that, of course, I would get Jim into the fold of the true believers. Jim had not joined a church but he had been reared as a Presbyterian. Before marriage, he said he would join the church when the subject came up. I didn’t want it that way. If he wanted to join, he could for other reasons than to get me. After marriage, he wanted no part of “The Church” and it took me a long time to find it out for sure, but I didn’t either. At that point, I was not attending church anyway, so it didn’t make much difference.
My trip east with the skaters was fun. We were all friends and Mr. Wooley was a good chaperone. Besides seeing all the new country, and Mr. Wooley was a good guide, we would stop at night where we could go skating. The rinks’ personnel would treat us royally and introduce us as champions on our way to the nationals. When we got to Pittsburg, I was dropped off at the bus station where I took a bus into Washington. There I called a neighbor, Mrs. Saxon, who took me in until Evelyn came from her teaching job. I had a very nice and informative visit with Mrs. Saxon and her daughter Helen who was also a school teacher. I was later to meet her son, Jim, who was my Jim’s best friend.
Evelyn was Jim’s step mother since he was about 7. His mother, Pauline, had died when he was 6 with acute appendicitis. His father, Frank, came home later and it was so nice to meet them. They were very cordial and showed me around the town Jim was born and grew up in. They introduced me to friends and relatives. But there was friction between Frank and Evelyn and it wasn’t very comfortable being there. They later split up and went their separate ways. Frank married Grace and Evelyn married Lew Golden.
Jim Saxon spent a lot of time with me. He was a radio announcer at the local radio station and he had a studio over their garage. We spent long hours talking about his and Jim’s childhood. He took me skating one night and I saw where Jim began that hobby.
I took a side trip to Chicago to meet Jim’s aunt Harriet. They were all so different from the people I knew. The teachers I knew were my teachers and stood heads taller than I ever could. Aunt Harriet was a sales person in an exclusive dress shop. She had been married twice before but was single now and had an apartment out along Lake Shore Drive where I spent the night. We saw a movie together after dinner that Dad had financed with a twenty he sent up with me in a sealed envelope. I enjoyed that visit and got a different perspective on Jim’s life.
It was over in a week and Mr. Wooley picked me up at their house and we headed home. The night I got home was the longest in my life. I thought I had another day, but graveyard shift started at midnight and really was the next day. I had to go as tired as I was and had a very hard time keeping my eyes open that long night.
Travelling was in my blood now. My friend, Bernice Williams, and I started planning another trip to Washington. My brother, Terry, was at Fort Lewis and our friend, Dave Bernard, was at an air base in Seattle. He was Bernice’s boyfriend. We took a bus and went north through Idaho and Oregon to Washington. It was a beautiful drive along the Columbia River and up to Puget Sound and I had added 3 more states to my almost coast-to-coast travel. We saw Terry first and he showed us around the sound and the fort. He took us to a small Mormon church on Sunday and we met his girlfriend. Dave came in from the base and we spent the day and the night all together in our little room we had rented. We just all stretched out on top of the bed in our street clothes and slept. He took us skating at a big rink in Seattle. It was fun being with him but I was missing Jim a lot.
It seemed like forever that Jim had been gone but it was just over a year. I had gotten the word that he was to arrive on December 24, 1942. What a lovely Christmas present. However, he arrived earlier than I expected and at 5am, Mother woke me and told me Jim was there. Nice words to wake up to. He was all bundled up in his green overcoat and I was in my robe with my hair up in curlers but we looked awfully good to each other. It was so good to be held in his arms again. He was back and I was deliriously happy. He had a 15 day furlough and we got a motel, against Dad’s wishes, and started our second honeymoon. It was also our first Christmas together. We renewed our friendships with the couples that were left and spent a lovely Christmas holiday with my family. We didn’t go back to see his family as it was just too much for the time.
After his leave, he reported back to Pocatello, Idaho and was sent to Pyote, Texas. Texas isn’t hard to find on a map, but Pyote was something else. But I was getting used to finding spots on maps. Pyote was hardly a spot on the map. It was hardly more than a spot on the road of Rt 80 across Texas where they had built an air base aptly named Rattle Snake Bomber Base. I went back to work and waited for Jim to find us a place to live and send for me. I finally got the call and immediately packed and took a bus to Texas. Trains did not connect very well. It was a long, long bus ride through Denver via Wyoming and down through Colorado and New Mexico to Texas. I spent hours waiting for bus connections in little New Mexico towns getting the feel of what it was going to be like living in Texas. It was a totally new experience. I sent wire after wire along the way telling Jim when I would get in but the mail room was not geared to getting word to the GI in a hurry. I got off the bus at 2am in Monahans with no one to meet me. This lonely little town of about 3 blocks was not the best place to be at 2am. I wanted to cry but I went looking for a hotel room. I might as well have cried; there were no rooms available. The only alternative I had was to join a few lonely soldiers in the same situation sitting out the night in the hotel lobby. The manager had a room just off the lobby and she felt sorry for me and made me up a bed on a cot. This sure beat sleeping in a chair all night and I was more than thankful to the dear lady. The next day I called the base to let Jim know I was in town and rented a room at the hotel in case. Jim joined me in the afternoon and we began our third honeymoon. So many honeymoons probably kept our romance alive. It was hell to be apart but the reunions were heaven.
The next day we went to get the apartment he had rented over Jimmie’s White House Café in the center of town next to the train station. We had lots of company from the well-fed cockroaches that would find their way up from the café. They were big creatures about 2 inches long and I kept a broom to go after them. The cat we acquired there liked to play with them. So in March, 1963, I began to learn what it was like to be an air force wife. I began to meet the other wives and we became friendly and close. One of the first was Bev Sheets whom I had seen talking pictures in Salk Lake. Glen Phillips brought his new bride, Alice, down and she and I became very close. When we moved from the café apartment we all moved into one bedroom apartments or houses, same street on the outskirts of Monahans on Mississippi Street. It was like living in a dormitory at college. We had a lot of fun partying and sharing our last-night leftovers for lunch. We walked 2 miles to town to get our mail and groceries or see a movie. No one had a car. Several of the wives were from Salt Lake but only one was a churchgoer. That was June Hamilton, Bud’s wife. They were the first of the group to get a divorce soon after the war.
West Texas was noted for sand storms that could equal the fog I remembered in Utah. They left the houses a lot worse. Then it would rain and the houses would sweat and clothes would mould. At one point, the government caught up with something Jim had done with my allotment checks or travel pay. They decided he owed the government about $150 and took it out of his pay all in one pay check. That was a disaster and I had to go to work. Monahans didn’t have much to offer and for the base you had to pass a Civil Service exam. I went to work in the local dime store, Wackers, and took home about $18 a week. It got us by. I tried the Civil Service exam but needed more than the old Underwood I had to practice on. I failed the typing test. Later, I went to work for the County Judge at the Court House as a more or less receptionist. I think I typed two letters for him but mostly sat at the reception desk with nobody around to disrupt my reading. But I made $50 a month till we left Texas.
While we were in Texas, Lois came to visit us once and Reba and Kirk came. Kirk could mix the best drinks with the worst material. We had to buy one bottle of something else to get a decent bottle of whiskey. We had some pretty bad vodka and gin on hand. We finished it off with him as a bar tender. While they were there over New Year’s of ’44, we took a trip to Carlsbad Caverns. We were there on New Year’s Eve but couldn’t get the bus out to the cave until after midnight. So we sat in the bus depot drinking coke and whiskey all evening and saw the new year in pretty tired and grouchy. We finally got a bus and went out to our motel and went through the caves the next day.
One Christmas in Texas, Jim gave me $10 for my Christmas present. That made me feel so bad that he wouldn’t take the trouble to buy me a gift to open. I asked my friend, Alice, to buy something for me and wrap it so I could open it Christmas Day. Jim never did that again.
We made a trip to Pennsylvania once during the war and once to Mansfield where Jim’s dad was now married to Grace. Evelyn had married Lou and moved to Detroit. We didn’t see much of her anymore. Grace and dad were family for us now.
In August, 1945, the war ended and we were making a decision that would affect the rest of our lives. Jim had to decide whether to get out or make the Air Force his career. It wasn’t easy. His only training was Air Force, but he had a taste of what kind of life it would be. He decided to stay in. He was Master Sergeant now and he chose an assignment in Columbus, Ohio near his dad and where a former commander was assigned. We bought an old car in Monahans, packed it with our belongings, dog and cat and with the gas coupons allotted the service personnel and headed for Salt Lake. On the way, we went through Zion National Park where we slept in the car and drove through the park at daybreak. It was a beautiful experience with the morning shadows. I was about 3 months pregnant with Frank on this trip, but we did a lot of hard driving. Every time we would stop the cat would take off. He didn’t like the car ride. Boots, the dog, would round him up and we would get him back in. One time we put him in the trunk and the next we saw of him were his claws coming through the ceiling. When we got to Salt Lake, we made Mother a present of him and went on our way with Boots.
We spent Thanksgiving with my family in Salt Lake and then went on to spend Christmas with Jim’s. After the holidays, Jim reported into the base at Columbus. There was no housing. We finally found a big room in a rooming house with a communal kitchen out back. We bought a little hot plate stove with an oven attachment and did some of our cooking in our room for privacy. We weren’t in Columbus very long but we did have a chance to renew our relationship with Reta and Emory and their two boys, Keith and Gene. Then we were moved to Clinton County Air Force Base at Wilmington, Ohio, about half way between Columbus and Cincinnati and we started looking for a home again. After our first night in the hotel, Jim went to work and I went out to see what was available. I went to the Sinclair station across the street and the dealer, Charles Hughes, offered us a room in his house which we accepted until Frank was born. We used their kitchen first and then Evelyn and Charles and their 2 kids had theirs. We got quite friendly with them and one time we took them to Mansfield to visit with Dad and Grace.
Frank James Moore arrived pretty much on time on June 25, 1946. We had to drive to Columbus’s Fort Hayes Hospital for delivery. He was not turning and was finally delivered breach. Somewhere in that delivery, Frank had some brain damage and they couldn’t get him to suckle. They finally took him, without telling me what was happening, to the Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Jim went with them and they were gone so long. No one would talk to me and I was just sure that Frank had died. When they came back and told me, I was so relieved but I asked Jim never to do that to me again. I can deal with what I know, not what I don’t know.
When I was told I had a boy, I felt a little intimidated by it all. Like I was a receptacle through which the great males pass. You get patted on the head if you produce a boy. We had given Dad his first grandchild and it was a boy. I wasn’t thinking boys were better, but it had always seemed right to have a boy first and then you can have a girl. I was destined to have all boys. There was never to be a girl. Anyway, I wanted to give Jim a boy.
We named him Frank after his paternal grandfather and James after my dad who had lots of grandchildren and some had his name. I went home from the hospital but Frank stayed at the Children’s Hospital for a month until they could get him to take enough formula. Finally, I brought him home and we treated him like a preemie with feedings every 2 hours all around the clock. I would just get him back to sleep and it was time to eat again. I was the one to get up always. Jim had to work and needed his rest. I wasn’t getting much either. Frank liked all those feedings and it was hard to stop when he didn’t need it anymore. I finally had to let him cry it out. I didn’t think I was ever going to get a full night’s sleep again.
After Frank was born, we moved into a second floor apartment where the 2 bedrooms and closets were remodeled for renting. We shared the bath between the two bedrooms at the top of the stairs. The kitchen was in the closet. As the months went by and Frank wasn’t doing the normal things, we had to come to grips with the fact that he had motor damage. His pediatrician in Columbus thought he was mentally retarded and suggested we start making arrangements to put him into the State Hospital. Jim was ready to accept the prognosis, but I could see too much alertness to buy that. Grace and Dad agreed with me and we started looking around for help.
We were offered another apartment friends of our landlord had remodeled and we moved again outside of town. Then some more friends of the friends remodeled an old farm house and we moved into that. Here we had a kitchen and living room downstairs and a bedroom upstairs where we shared the bath. In 1949, we moved into a real house in Highland across the drive from Bob and Dot Foskuhl. Here we just shared the driveway and garage. We also had a full basement.
It was in this house our twin boys, Jack and Jeff, were born on my birthday, 11-20-49. It would have been a nice birthday present had they been alive. They were born in a little hospital in Leesburg. Labor wasn’t long or hard and the doctor didn’t want to put me to sleep because of the situation. I hadn’t felt life for a week. So I experienced childbirth naturally. The twins were small so the delivery wasn’t difficult. But it was so much easier getting over because I did not have to throw off the drugs in my system. Poor Jim, though, took them to Mansfield to bury but he didn’t have death certificates and he had to come back to get them. His dad came back with him and they came by to see me. I did not want to see the babies if I could not have them. But Jim saw them and had to go through all of the trauma of the burial. We had tried to get help for Frank in Columbus but his pediatrician’s prognosis prevailed and we got nowhere. We took him to the Cleveland Clinic, renowned for its work. We went armed with his records and with Grace and Dad for support and drove up. They went through the usual evaluation, but here again, the other doctor’s opinion got in the way. They were more interested in my eye span which was abnormally wide than Frank’s problems and they wanted X-Rays of me for their studies. I acquiesced but Frank got nowhere. So we decided to leave the records behind and start fresh. We took him to the Barney Convalescent Hospital in Dayton where they had a clinic. They could see his potential right away and scheduled him for physical and occupational therapy and then speech. I started my trips of 30 miles three times a week. Thank goodness I had learned to drive by then. Frank did well and was well liked. He was cooperative and it was a joy to work with him which I did at home. Jim built an exercise table and parallel bars and “skis” to work with. He built him a standing table and a sandbox. So at the end of the decade things were looking up. I had a happy home, a son and we were about to move again.
At 10 I was in the fourth grade at Madison School and making new friends on Wentworth Avenue. We had 2 neighbor girls, Doris Mooney next door and Sylvia Gigi across the street, near Lois and my ages and with whom we made close friends. We did have our little spats and I remember how jealous I would become when Lois would take the side of one of my temporary enemies. At one point, we made a pact to remind each other that we were sisters and had a special bond. We were to say “L&P”, which meant like and play, when things got out of hand. I don’t remember if that worked or not.
One day Sylvia and I found ourselves in a little trouble. We knew where we could find gunny sacks and we also knew where we could sell them. I can’t remember those details. But I do remember Sylvia and I going to a man’s house where he cut kindling wood and put it in gunny sacks. We were trying to sneak out some gunny sacks and the man came out. We ran like little thieves until we got almost home. I was ahead of Sylvia and didn’t know if she got away or not. In the middle of a field, I dropped and prayed as hard as I could that she would get away. My prayers were answered immediately. She walked into the field. I learned my lesson then and there and have never tried to steal since. It just wasn’t worth the worry.
At school, I had the usual crushes on the male teachers. The first was my fifth grade teacher, the one who blew my Santa Claus myth. He was a social studies teacher. My fantasies were of me passing out, thereby getting his attention. That was supposed to make him fall madly in love with this delicate creature who had to be protected from the harsh world. I don’t even remember his name. The next one was a Junior High teacher of Civics, Mr. Lewis whom I later learned Vera had a crush on as well. In retrospect, he doesn’t seem like much. He was tall and dark but handsome does not describe him. He had a head like a lemon with a weak chin. I don’t remember any fantasies but I did want to be near him as much as possible.
Then there was a woman, Elsie French. She was my English and History teacher. I would have done anything for her and it was acceptable to show her my devotion. That is why my history grade was above average, indeed, they were excellent for me who was a very average student. It was for her I made a scrap book for the Tribune Hobby Show on “Leisure Time and Human Progress” that won me first prize in the Hobby Show and a silver loving cup. The Tribune was and is a foremost Salt Lake newspaper. The sad end of that story was that on the day of the assembly when they were to award me with the cup, I was so sick I couldn’t leave my bed. Lois took my place to receive the cup for me.
In my earlier years at Madison, one of the classes that stands out in my memory was an art class where we made raffia baskets. I’ve often wanted to try my skill I learned there but was unable to find the material. I also wanted to take piano lessons offered in the sixth grade for only $1. I got my dollar and gave it to the teacher. But since I did not have a piano to practice on (I had an old organ), I was discouraged from taking the class and was given my dollar back. I have always regretted that opportunity missed.
My sixth grade class, along with other classes in the grade school, planted trees along the south side of Madison School. I had almost forgotten, but recently I returned to the site with Lois’s daughter Sherri who was getting ready for her second year’s teaching at Madison and was enjoying the shade of Lois’s tree outside her window. They have grown large and are tearing up the sidewalk showing their superiority over cemented over areas and the many years gone by since they were planted.
Grace Cowling and Esther Fillmore were my best friends at Madison. Later I became close to an interesting, beautiful girl named Lucille Holston. She was not living with her mother but with a sister, and the family was shady. By that I mean I didn’t know anything about them. I met the mother once later as our friendship continued beyond school years. Looking back, I think she must have been Jewish and I had never met anyone Jewish or who didn’t live with their family before.
While I was in Junior High School, Mother had to leave home and be with my sister, probably Reta, when she had her baby. She was gone for just a few days and I stayed home from school to keep house for Dad. I was taking cooking in school and enjoyed trying out some recipes and keeping the house. He told Mother what a great little homemaker I was becoming. That was the first and one of the few compliments from Dad.
I graduated from Junior High School in 1936. We had a formal graduation. My first formal was pink taffeta with ruffles on the neck and 3 rows of ruffles at the bottom. We had a dance following the graduation exercises. My date was Dewey Coombs who must have been my first date if it can be defined as such, but he was available and not much of a dancer. Who was at 15 years old? And what was I going to do with a formal? It was a big expense in those days, to fold up and put away for posterity.
Now I had a formal and Vera was going to dances at Coconut Grove in Salt Lake. I decided to join her. We went stag and stood in the group of wall flowers, if you didn’t have a partner, and waited and tried to look sufficiently attractive. I thought I must be beautiful in that new graduation formal and would have no trouble getting dances. Vera always seemed to. But there I stood, most of the time, hoping to attract a male of the species to choose me as his next partner. It was strictly forbidden for the female of the species to do the asking. They just stood, vulnerable, resting on non-existing laurels and hoping. Sometimes the experience was worth the admission price, but mostly not. I always went with someone who was not about to turn down a chance to go home with someone else (male). I often had to leave the hall alone, walk to the bus line and go home on the bus in a formal gown. Sometimes we did go home in a group. I don’t remember meeting anyone special at the dance hall. One night my friend left me with my bus fare and I had to walk the 17 blocks home alone after midnight. Cinderella at least had a chariot waiting. What a bummer!
These dances were on Monday nights. That was fine during the summer. But I continued to go after I started back to school at Granite High School. I had World History as my first class and on Tuesdays I would be sleepy and my mind was still on the night before. I was not interested in those ancient cultures. I guess I wasn’t very interested in any of my classes there. I took Book Keeping then, but nothing stayed with me. All I remembered was something called a trial balance. We had a swimming pool there where I learned to swim correctly and how to save someone. That has stayed with me though, fortunately, I have never had to try it. I do not have good memories of my first year at Granite High School. We lived too far away and we had to walk the almost 5 miles each way. Riding a bus wasn’t much help. We could go down State Street to 33rd South and then we had to walk the 4 blocks to 5th East. Or we could go uptown and transfer and take the streetcar on 7th East and walk the 2 blocks to Granite. These were large blocks, 4 to a mile. That didn’t make life easy or leave much study time after you got home. We were tired and hungry. I had a walking buddy named Evelyn Layton who, with her mother and dad, lived in the gas station on the corner of our street and State Street. They had fixed up an apartment right in the station. She became my best friend through that year and we were later to meet again in the same apartment house after we were both married.
We were a very poor family all through my school years as most families we knew at that time. Dad’s job with the coal company had dwindled to a few orders for kindling wood and sometimes delivering coal in his truck. As we grew older, it was harder and harder for Mother and Dad to buy school clothes and books. Consequently, we all dropped out of school to go to work, except Lois. Education had no value beyond junior high, certainly not high school. We were somewhat encouraged to think about career training in school, and I had an idea I would like to be a nurse or school teacher and went through my school years with that in mind. But I certainly did not expect anyone to support those ideas or be motivated to do it myself. There was no money. Times were hard. So, after my one year at Granite, I had to find a job to support my next year in school. I got a job in a laundry at the tremendous sum of $8 a week. I didn’t want to give that up to go back to school. I was underage and had to get a work permit from the Board of Education and thought my school days were over.
I really don’t know how Dad fed and clothed his large family. I know the older ones helped some. I remember Dad had chickens and he would go to the bakery for old bakery goods for the chickens. Some of the cakes and rolls were still edible and we used them for our lunches. He had a little wagon that he took to fruit markets and brought home fruits and vegetables that were too ripe to sell. We ate it. He had a vegetable garden for a while across the tracks which helped. But I don’t remember him getting much help from us kids when the harvest time came or any other time. That was below our dignity.
I had a couple of domestic jobs at this time, but I don’t remember why I left one job and went to the next. I lived with a family near 8th South and 5th East who owned a grocery store on State Street and about 8th South. I helped the mother with a big family keep house. I had my own room and radio. Another place was on the avenues where I mostly took care of the kids and the house while the mother and father worked. She was a maid for the president of copper mine at Bingham, and he was their chauffer. I was really low class: a servant to servants. I had a bed in the corner of the 2 boys’ room. But I liked the family and was like one of them.
At this time, I finally got to try my hand at a musical instrument. Reba, maybe remembering the piano lessons, paid for my lessons and a Hawaiian guitar. I did fairly well at it but didn’t have money or incentive to carry it on. But while I was there, their secretary/bookkeeper quit and I was offered the job so I quit my lessons and went to work. I didn’t have the experience for the job and it lasted only a week.
Somewhere back in my school years I met Velma Cole who was one of my best friends for several years. We went to dances together and we started roller skating together at Norm Grondyke’s rink on North Main which was later called The Broadway. Skating was much more fun than dancing because you didn’t need a partner to participate. We later started going to Wooley’s Roller Skating Rink at 450 South State Street. This was a more refined rink where we learned to dance on skates and do figures. I got quite good with both and seldom lacked partners. I joined The Waltz Club and entered the state dance contest in 1940 with James D. Wardell, a local barber, and we danced off with 2nd place and a silver medal. I also achieved a bronze medal status in figure skating without competition. Among these souvenirs are several copies of the rink paper called “The Waltz Club News”, which I submitted a gossip column with a friend, Helen Gleason, under the byline of “The Gold Dust Twins”. These papers obviously were not written for posterity as it is difficult to find dates on them. But one or two are dated 1938 and 39. Those memories are good. We had lots of fun and I had lots of friends. Lois joined the fun and we were both to meet our husbands there. One Christmas while she was still in High School at Granite, Lois made me a skating dress with a circular skirt in grey lined in red, with a military type jacket with red double breasted buttons down the front. It made skating more fun. I loved to spin in it as it gave me balance.
Some of the friends I made at the skating rink were going back to school in the fall of 1939 at South High School. I decided to join them and finish my high school. I couldn’t do this from my home on Wentworth Avenue because it was not in the city limits. But Eldon and Martha with baby Doug were living within the city limits just 2 blocks away. I used their address and was a school girl again. I liked South better for several reasons. It was closer, I had more friends and maybe I was wiser now that I was 2 years older. I enjoyed my studies more. I was a late bloomer but this time I kept at it until I graduated with the class of ’41.
At the end of the 30’s, I was going to school and would graduate; I was young, single and having fun. I hardly noticed the dark clouds of war hovering over us. Life was good. I was high. In Rantoul, Illinois, in 1939, a young man had enlisted in the Air Force at Chanute Field, and was beginning his hold pattern that was to bring him to Salt Lake Airport and into my life.
In the beginning, an 8 pound baby girl was born to James (Matt) Madison and Cornelia Terry Chidester’s already large family on the cold morning of November 20, 1920, at 3am, in the little town of Venice, nestled along the Sevier River in Sevier County, Utah. Being born at the beginning of the decade helped her remember how old she was as she grew up. She learned early on that to subtract 20 from the current year gave her her age if she remembered not to change until November. This little girl was named Constance, shortened immediately to Connie, by her brother Gordon who would be 20 the next day. He chose the name of his current girl friend. Connie was number 8 of that union and counted three more brothers and sisters from Matt’s earlier marriage. Her baby book says she got her first tooth at 10 months, sat alone at 6 months, said “by by” and “dack dack”, whatever that meant, at 9 months, “slid” (I guess that anticipated crawling) at 7 months, walked at 15 months, shortened at 5 months. I assume shortened meant to shorten the long dress. She could say anything she tried at 15 months. That is the extent of the one page record in a 38 page book extolling Imperial Granum baby food which Connie ate at 1 month.
During her 4 years in Venice, this little girl was given a baby sister born right after her second Christmas on January 7. They named her Lois. That must have been a wonderful gift for a little girl. I see this little girl with her little sister in her doll stroller pushing her around a cement slab outside the kitchen door at her second home in Delta where the family had moved November, 1924. This is my earliest memory. I left Venice behind forever as I have no memory of the place. I go back to Delta in my memories of my childhood where I am playing dolls in what must have been an unfinished upstairs. I remember my brothers, probably Eldon and Terry, sleeping at the head of the stairs that wasn’t really a room. But the doll room I shared with Lois seemed spacious and wonderful. The whole house seemed spacious to a little girl. We had a big yard enclosed in a row of tamarack bushes. At a much later date, when I returned to reminisce, it was so disappointingly small. Behind the house and across the field was an irrigation canal where we went swimming on warm summer days. I remember mud crawling at first and then swimming free of the muddy bottom. Before I could swim, however, we had ventured to a spot where the water was over my head. I had inadvertently gotten into the deeper water that threatened to engulf me and end my short life. My sister Vera pulled me to safety. My sister Thelma knitted me a swimming suit so I wouldn’t have to wear an old dress. I was so proud of it and they got a picture of me proudly modeling it before it got wet. Then I got into the water. The heavy water stretched the suit down to my toes. Oh well, it was a good idea and I am sure Thelma learned something.
I remember walking to school. We (don’t remember who) walked 2 blocks west and 3 blocks north. If I went that way, I could always find my way. One foggy day I was walking alone and took the shortcut through the field across the street. I couldn’t see a foot in front of me as the fog closed in. I got hopelessly lost. I found my way back home and went the familiar 2 blocks west and 3 blocks north and there I was.
I see a little girl in the first or second grade learning money. She is using coins to draw circles the size of the coins. This little girl had probably never had real money in her hands and she couldn’t resist slipping the coins into her pocket and going to the bathroom to tie them into her handkerchief. That money, probably 15¢, must have represented candy at the nearby store. That picture is blocked. If the teacher missed the money, and I am sure she did, or if the teacher told her mother, nothing was ever said to the little girl. I am sure she was too afraid to mention it to anyone.
Of course there was an LDS Church in town and we were of the faithful. I see my mother teaching a class of young children, to have been a part of that class. One Christmas party at church Santa Claus appeared with a dented mask. Horrors! I could never really believe in that myth again. But I didn’t want to give it up entirely and clung to a maybe until a fifth grade teacher dealt the final blow. But that Santa Claus never knew what he did to a little girl’s faith.
The Carey family with mother and 3 children lived next to us. Franklin was my age and Lois and I played with him a lot. I remember him as rather effeminate which he probably outgrew. His older brother, Charlie, lurks in my memory slightly. One day stays in my memory as maybe being the closest I ever came to being raped. That is a harsh word, but he had gotten me into his car behind their house when Mother called me home. I was too young to know what was going on and nothing was ever said to me about it, but I was left with the feeling that it was not all above board.
I see me, probably about 8, sitting on the porch of my grandparent’s house while Mother and Dad were inside. It is summer and someone was sick inside. I don’t remember my grandparents at all, but my grandfather, David, died in March, 1929, and his wife, Rebecca Ann, died the following May. From this bit of genealogy, I gather that it was my paternal grandmother dying inside that house. I had accompanied Mother and Dad when they went to see her. I vaguely remember a funeral that summer and I was 8 years old. I did not attend.
It seemed we lived in the yellow brick house in Delta for a very long time, but it must have been about 4 years. When I was 8, the family moved to another house outside of town to the south, far enough to warrant our taking the school bus. This house had large trees out front where I fantasized flying. This house had a sink with no piped in water or drain, but it was a status symbol. I loved to wash dishes there even though I had to empty my dish pan wherever we emptied our used water. I had a play house between the house and a large unfinished barn where I practiced the role I was to play as an adult. I found this place recently in my mind as a quiet place I went in my childhood to just be me. We weren’t to live in this house long. Before the end of the year, in November, 1929, we packed our belongings on a flat bed truck and, like “Grapes of Wrath”, moved to the big city a full days travel north. My brother Glen had a coal business and my father was to join him in the business and give up farming. I mourned Delta, the only town I had known and made friends, for a long time. But it took me many years to take the time to go back.
Salt Lake City was a much better organized town than Delta. We had numbers on our houses, street cars down the middle of State Street, which I learned much later was the longest straight street in the world. It ran from the point of the mountain entering Salt Lake Valley on the south to the State Capitol Building high above Salt Lake where you could trace its way across the valley. For a nickel, you could ride the street car almost the full length of that street. We shared the number 2250 South State Street with Benion Gas and Oil on the street. Behind that were gasoline storage tanks and then the house. The house was big enough to house two fairly large families. Gouldings lived in the best part with the plumbing and we sort of camped temporarily in what were intended to be bedrooms all with fireplaces. We finished out the winter there in the bedrooms. It was during this winter that I got both scarlet fever and diphtheria. I had to have a doctor and he made me stay in bed for a long time. He nailed a quarantine sign on our door and Dad had to live someplace else so he could work. The scarlet fever damaged my heart which has plagued me through my life. I got a pretty dress for Christmas that year and got to sleep in the bed. Most of the time we little ones slept on the floor because we did not have beds to go around. I remember trying on my new dress and defying the doctor’s orders to get up and dance around in front of the fire. I felt like a princess. I lost so much school that year, I had to take summer school to pass. They seemed to have summer school that year just for me or maybe there was a lot of scarlet fever and diphtheria around.
Gouldings had daughters for each of ours: Maida was Reta’s age, Erna Thelma’s age, Dawn my age, and Maxine Lois’s age. Vera had one her age but I can’t recall her name. Dawn and Maxine were Lois and my closest friends until they moved away from us. They soon moved out of the big house and into an apartment on State Street over the coal business. We moved into the whole house, plumbing and all. The plumbing did not include a toilet, but it did have the bathtub and sink complete with running water and drain. It was an interesting house reminiscent of an old southern plantation house with 2 long porches on two sides and a smaller on the third side. Outside the kitchen’s north door and down a half flight of stairs was a cemented area like a patio. Down from that was a cellar. Up a half flight of stairs from the kitchen was an attic. We skated and played house on the patio and used the attic and barn at the rear for theatrical adventures. Behind us was a meadow where we took picnics. Someone in the house on the next street had dug a swimming pool in their yard that we used probably unasked. One day our dog Ponto (all of our dogs were named Ponto, it seemed) followed us over and was watching us swim. In his excitement, he jumped in while I was swimming across, landed on my back and on to the other bank. I was pushed under and didn’t know what had hit me for a little while. It must have been a funny show from the banks.
One summer some Gypsies came to camp on our meadow. I don’t really know that they were Gypsies but they were different from us and thinking of them as Gypsies was romantic and exotic. This house had 2 large chestnut trees in the yard. Someone had put up a hammock between them where I spent many hour lying reading, sleeping or just watching the sky and letting my mind wonder. We also had a long hallway separating the bedrooms and connecting the living room with the east porch which made a wonderful spook alley on Halloween.
Thelma and Reta had an apartment in town but I remember Reta coming to this house to tell us she was going to marry Emory. It must have been at this time she was sewing on Mother’s sewing machine and run the needle into her finger. Mother had to take her to the County Hospital a block away. I’ll always see that needle in Reta’s finger and it comes back to me when I sew.
The Mormon Church was as well organized as the city. There were stakes and wards. We lived in and so were assigned to the Burton Ward, named after a prominent family in the neighborhood. Burton Avenue was also named after them. All of our social life was divided between Madison School and Burton Ward where I was learning the doctrine of my faith. I had already been baptized in the “swimming hole” in Delta and confirmed into the faith the next Fast Sunday. The memories of my Burton Ward days are numerous but not outstanding. As I got older, I did not want to go. For our entertainment, the Ward had Friday night movies for the youngsters. I got my first introduction to silent movies there. I remember a lot of Tom Mix and Hop-A-Long Cassidy cowboy shows riding across the screen cheered on by a noisy audience.
We got our first radio at this house. I remember Dad’s favorite program was “Amos ‘N Andy”. One of mine was “One Man’s Family”. There was Walter Winchell to give us the news. That brought the family together in the living room in the evening and broadened our horizons.
At the end of the decade, we moved for the sixth and last time before I left home to marry. This move was across State Street to 140 Wentworth Avenue. Dad rented for a while and then bought his first home which gave him a lot of satisfaction. He wanted a home his children could always come home to when they needed to. It was from this home I finished school at Madison and where I was married by our new neighbor. I did come back “home” several times when I needed a place for me and my family for short periods of time.