Written by Connie Moore, Frank’s mom.
I. THE VACATION
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.