Saturday, August 31, 2013

Simply Nell

I cannot write about my life without including this story of a girl called “Nell”.

When I was a child and I would go to Grandma Higdon’s house, there was a photograph on her dresser (the dresser was one that dipped in the middle and the sides were higher; the mirror had three sections also).  The photograph sat on one side on top of a little doily.  I was always so intrigued by that photograph, and 60-some-odd years later I can still see it in my mind as though it is today.

When I was little I would always ask who that was.  They always replied that it was “your Aunt Margaret’s friend, Nell”.  The photograph was of a beautiful young girl in a nurse’s uniform, a blue cape, and a stark white starched cap with a black ribbon.  This showed that she was an RN.  She had really blue eyes and soft brown hair.  When they replied that she was my aunt’s friend they also would tell me that she and Aunt Margaret helped to deliver me at the hospital and the two of them named me.
When I was older and a teenager, I was told the story of Nell.  They said she almost quit nursing because of a young, beautiful woman who was admitted to the hospital.  The woman had been in a car wreck and they had to amputate an arm.  She told them the girl had long red nails, and she would never forget the sound the arm made when it fell into the pillow case.

The doctor that delivered me and Nell had an affair.  He was married and had planned on marrying Nell, but his little child got real sick and he didn’t leave his wife.  This is the story that was told, but you know how that goes.  Well, Nell had a little baby girl by him.  The girl would be close to my age now.  Nell died when the child was really young, and Nell’s mother raised her.  She did carry her father’s name, though.  I saw her as a teenager at one of our high-school functions that was at her school.  She was well-known because she was so beautiful, and I think she won a beauty contest.

I wish I could write well – I so would write a novel of this story!

More Bits and Pieces

I have always loved books.  We never had any in our home when I was little, but I would troll through our small school library and find all kinds of great wonders in the books that were there.

I remember getting one one day and my eyes feasted on one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.  It was a Faberge egg.  I looked at that book over and over.  I kept telling myself, "When you get older and go to work, you can buy you one of these."

Oh, my goodness!  How naive that little girl was!  With the price of those great treasures, it will always have to remain just a sweet day dream.  It did spark my interest in later years of reading and studying Czar Nicholas II and Alexandra.  Their story has always intrigued me.

Bits and Pieces or Random Memories

In the 1950's under President Eisenhower, "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.  I can remember the very first time in school when we said it.  I can't remember what grade I was in, but I do remember the room at school.  Back then we started each school day with a prayer and the pledge.  Now the kids can no longer pray in school, and the crazies are trying to take "Under God" out of the Pledge.  Then everyone wonders why things are so bad.  Don't you just think that if we didn't take God out of everything, society and things might be better?  I sure do!  We were always glad to say our prayer and pledge.  It gave us a love of God, family, country, and each other.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Paternal Grandparents (By Dee Dee)

My father’s parents were Janett W. Ford (called “Bud” Ford) and Ollie Vada Woods Ford.  (Note:  The records Lori has found in her research say “Olivia”, “Olla” and “Wood”.)  I know some of their life as they were older, but not a lot from their younger days.

Janett W. Ford:

Olivia “Ollie” Vada Wood(s) Ford:

I do know that Grandma Ollie’s father, Edmond, fought in the Civil War with General Lee, and that her mother, Amanda, was Native American.  I wish I could find out what tribe she was from, but maybe my kids can do that through research some day.

The Wood(s) family lived in Missouri and ran a hotel/boarding house – something like that.  It was a big, white, plantation-style building with a veranda.  Grandma Ollie had several sisters and at least two brothers.  The relatives always said Grandma Ollie was always a bit lazy, and on laundry day or baking day she would always, as they called it, “swoon”.  Her laziness carried over into her later life.
Photograph of Ollie and her parents and siblings.  Ollie is on the back row, the third from the right (in between her parents, Edmond and Amanda Wood):

Janett W. and Ollie met when Janet got a job with Ollie’s Dad driving cattle to market.  Janett had a brother named Jerald “Jurd” Ford,  who married Ollie’s sister.  The brothers both went to work for Ollie’s father.
I don’t know where Janett W. was from.  I’ve been told that “Ford” was not even the name he was born with.  I was told by one person that it was “Dumontford”, and then told by another person that it was “Bjork”.  You know, every family has to have their “royalty” story or such.  Well, this is ours.  I was told either Janett, or maybe his father – someone in that line – was from a royal family and got into all kinds of political strife and came to America to escape.  I wish I could find out for sure.

Janett W. and Ollie married and lived in Missouri, and later moved to Arkansas for awhile, before moving to Dodson, Texas, to settle for the rest of their lives.  His brother, Jurd, and his wife also moved there.  From the marriage of Janett and Ollie, eight children were born, as follows:
Howard Ford
Ernest Ford
Paul M. Ford (My father)
Hobart Ford
Lex Ford
Macie Ford Frazier
Walcie Ford Weldon
Maxine Ford Richardson

Janett W. died in 1940.  Mama was pregnant with me at the time.  Here is a copy of his death certificate:

For more information, here is a link to the “Find-A-Grave Index” that shows his burial information, as well as a little family information – click here.
Grandma Ollie lived with us until I was 16 or 17.  She was hard of hearing and could only speak in a whisper.  I was the one designated to tell her things.  I would have to get up close and holler.  I tell everyone that is why I’m such a loud mouth!

She, like my other grandmother, was not very affectionate or warm, but she was not openly hurtful.  She was just always there, almost like a shadow.  I do remember when I was about 6 or 7, she and I would walk to the cemetery and put out flowers and pull weeds from Grandpa’s grave.  She really liked spying on us.  When we girls had dates, I could see the curtains moving, and she would be watching our dates walk us to the door.  She would laugh when we said something.

She died in 1968, the same year as Daddy.  I believe she was 98 at the time of her death.

Death Certificate for Ollie:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Maternal Grandparents – Joseph Henry Higdon and Lucy Crossland Higdon - By Dee Dee

These next sections will be on what I know about my grandparents – how they met and what I know about them.  It is rather sketchy, but I will do what I can to bring their lives and stories in.

My mother’s parents were Joseph Henry and Lucy (Crossland) Higdon.  They lived in Louisiana.  I know less about my grandfather’s young life than I know about my grandmother’s.  I do know that Joseph had at least one brother.  I don’t know his parents’ or brother’s names.  I do know that at one point his mother was widowed and married a man named “Moore”.  Grandpa was a big old Irish man with show-white curly hair and the most twinkling brown eyes I have ever seen.  He was as easy-going as they come.  He walked with a limp from a black-smithing injury.

Joseph Henry Higdon and Lucy Crossland Higdon, date unknown.  The marking on the back of the photograph says, "Wellington, Texas":

My grandmother was Lucy Crossland Higdon.  Her parents were George Edward Crossland and Susan A. Howard Crossland.  They had 12 or 13 children, some dying in infancy.  Grandma’s mother and daddy both died when she was a young girl, and the family was broken up, with the various children being sent to different homes.

George Edward Crossland and Susan Howard Crossland, year unknown.  I don’t know who the child is (perhaps Ben or Hiram Lemuel Crossland?):

Grandma went to live with a woman named “McQuire” that ran a millenary shop making hats and all kinds of accessories.

Grandma and Grandpa met at a fair.  I don’t know if it was a local, county, or state fair, but I know that when Grandpa saw her, he went over immediately and told Grandma, “I’m marrying you some day.”

When they married, I guess Mrs. McQuire made her a good wedding, because they always talked about how many yards of lace were in her dress and that she carried orange blossoms as a bouquet.

Their children were:  (1) Georgia Virginia, (2) “Bill” – it was a nickname; he hated his name so he went by “Bill” and that’s all I know; (3) “Bud” – also a nickname; same circumstances as Bill; I do know that one of their real names was Lemuel Hiram; (4) Ione (nicknamed “N┼Źne” – pronounced the same as “known”); (5) Opal Ella Nora (my mother); (6) Rufus; (7) Margaret; and (8) Joseph, Jr.

I don’t know when they left Louisiana, but I do know my mother was born in Eastland, Texas, on 15 January 1912.  From Eastland they moved by covered wagon to Wellington, Texas and spent their lives there.

My Grandpa was a unique man.  He was a black-smith by trade, but also played the violin and gave music lessons.  He also made violins and they were beautiful.  I remember that as kids we loved going into his little shed and dabbling in the varnish and messing with his resin.  He’d run us out, but with good humor.

My grandma was a thin woman of medium height.  She was, in all honesty, so sharp-tongued and cold.  She never showed affection to any of Mama’s kids.  We would ride the train from Dodson to Wellington to see them, and we usually came back the same day.  But my sister would go with my aunt and spend the night.  Once my sister’s legs were hurting really badly and she was crying.  Grandma told her, “Young lady, shut up!  You just want to go home.”

Grandma raised gardens and did canning, and she would butcher and prepare hogs.  She was the most wonderful cook I’ve known.

I know that she must have had a very rough life that contributed to her coldness and sharpness, but the one thing I have never understood is the unevenness of it.  She was meaner to my little mother than everyone else combined.  I can’t wrap my mind around why.  Mother was the sweetest, most gentle and meek of the whole bunch, but Grandma always picked her out to be mean to.  Grandpa wasn’t, and when Mama and Daddy married, Grandpa said to Grandma, “Luce, get Opal’s quilt out for her.”  Grandma had made quilts for all of the kids as they married, but wasn’t going to give Mama one.  There are other things to say, but at least you get the idea.  By today’s standard, the things she did would be child abuse.

As I said at the beginning, Mama was gentle and had been called a saint.  Mama loved her kids and grandkids so much.  She was semi-invalid for years, but she was sit and crochet and sew Barbie clothes for all of the grand-daughters.  All the grandkids loved going to “Ma’s” house (that’s what they called her).  They knew they would have Dr. Pepper to drink and Milky Way candy bars to eat.  She was always glad to see them all.

Now this part is the most painful, but also the most comforting thing I can think of.  My Mama died in my arms, with my Aunt None there.  To this point in my life, it has been the most hurtful thing I could go through.  I only pray to never lose a child or grandchild.  As for the part of her being a saint, I saw it with my own eyes.  As she died, a bright, beautiful halo light lit up all around her face. 

I didn’t say anything for a few days, and then I finally said to Aunt None, “When Mama died, did you see anything?”

She went pale and said, “Well, yes, there was a light around her head.”

Then Aunt None went on to say that Mama was the most saint-like person she had ever known.  This is the only thing that got me through this time.  The years and pain rolled away from her face.  Oh!  Mama, I love you so!

Note from Lori:  I was lucky enough to receive quite a treasure trove of Barbie clothes when I was a kid, and I spent hours and hours playing with my Barbies and my “House of Opal” fashions.  Ever the sentimental pack rat, even as a child, I still have them.

Here is my old Barbie case, packed with clothes:

Here are just a few of some of my favorite outfits made by my beloved “Ma”:

I also have been starting on some geneology, and here is the information that I have so far – please use this as a starting point only and since I am prone to error at times, by all means feel free to verify:

Joseph Henry Higdon, born 28 January 1879 in Louisiana; died 26 May 1956 in Collingsworth County, Texas; buried in Dodson, Texas.

Lucy Crossland Higdon, born about 24 March 1877 in Claiborne Parish, Lousiana; died 23 September 1957 In Wellington, Collingsworth, Texas.  Buried in Dodson, Texas.


Georgia Virginia Higdon, born 12 June 1902 in Arcadia, Bienville, Louisiana; Married 15 December 1929 to Glen Orville Ford in Hollis, Harmon, Oklahoma; died 16 October 1983 in Odessa, Ector, Texas.  (Also married to A.B. Cooper).

Gordia H. Higdon, born 1904; died 1984.

Lemuel Hiram Higdon, born 1906; died 1978.

Eula Ione Higdon, born 14 July 1909 in Pioneer, Eastland, Texas;  Married 30 June 1937 to Henry Merle Dunn in Oklahoma City,  Oklahoma; died 24 March 2003 in Midland, Texas.

Opal Ella Nora Higdon, born 15 January 1912 in Eastland, Texas; Married 21 November 1931 to Paul Millard Ford; died 15 July 1971, in Dodson, Collingsworth, Texas.

Rufus Lamar Higdon, born 1915; died 1997.

Joe Higdon, born 1918; died 1984.

Margaret Louise Higdon Payne, born 1922; died 1999.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Paul Millard Ford (By Dee Dee)

My Daddy’s name was Paul Millard Ford.  He was born on May 24, 1909, in Protem, Missouri.  His father was Janet W. Ford (I never really got it -- what a weird name for a man).  His mother was Ollie Vada Woods Ford.  He was one of eight children born to them.  I don’t know if they lived in Missouri or Arkansas first, but I do know they lived in both of those states before moving to Dodson, Texas, when my dad was a young boy.
Pictures of my father with Lori:

It is very hard for me to write about my Daddy because of the mixed feelings I have.  He was one of the hardest working, most generous persons that ever was.  He was good to his kids and worked awfully hard to feed and support us.  He worked in the combining business – he cut wheat and maize in the summer, and hauled bales of cotton and cotton seed in the fall and winter.
He worked for others when I was a little girl, and we were poor (I do mean poor).  We lived in a four-room shack with no running water inside, nor bathroom, but as Daddy worked harder he started buying his own equipment.  At one time he had 5 trucks and 5 combines (he converted an old school bus for a travel trailer for him and his crew to sleep in).  They would cut the wheat in Texas and Oklahoma and move on to Kansas, Nebraska, and both the Dakotas right up to the Canadian border.  It was a terrible way to make a living, cutting wheat in that Texas and Oklahoma heat.  He would come in sunburned and covered in wheat shaft.  The year I was 11 years old, they had bumper crops and Daddy came back with enough money  that he paid up-front for a house that had just been built a year or two before by a family that had moved to town and decided they didn’t want to stay.  It was 3 bedrooms, a living room, a huge kitchen,  and (wah-hoo!) a bathroom.  The kitchen had really pretty cabinets and a double sink.  My little Mama no longer had to heat water for dishes, baths, etc.  It was so wonderful!  Daddy bought her a Formica dinette set; it was salmon color with little gray flecks.  Mama would polish it every day.  Also, for the first time we had an electric refrigerator.  We were really happy.
Lori and Lara (with Kandi’s dog, Lu-Lu) in front of the family house:
 Lori and Mama coming in the back door, through the kitchen:

My sister-in-law, Pat (Ronnie’s 1st wife), and me doing a little kitchen clean-up in the kitchen (and yes, this is the dinette set that I described):

Sadly, when we went by the old homestead a few years ago, all that was left where the house once stood is three trees that we planted when we first moved in and our old mail box:

As I said before, my Daddy was one of the hardest working men I know.  He helped all of us all that he could as we got older and married, and he often would take groceries and things to some of his crew members that were having it hard.
He was also a very smart man.  He had only a 6th or 7th grade education, but was a whiz in math and read very well.  He was also a very handsome man.  Many thought he looked like Roy Rogers, and even one time some kid thought that he was.  The hard part to write about is the big flaw that he had, but since I’m trying to leave an accurate record I cannot ignore it or sugarcoat it.  Daddy just could not, or would not, be faithful to my dear little Mama.  As far back as I can remember he had girlfriends.  My Mama would cry so very much.  They never divorced, but Daddy moved in with another woman and that is where he died.  He did September 11, 1968.  I know he loved us and many times when I’ve had trouble through the years, I have had dreams and he would always tell me things will be all right.  The one thing I pray for is that somehow,  some way he and my Mama can be at peace with each other.  They both loved their kids and both worked so hard to raise us.  I think they did a pretty darn good job.

Additional Story from Lori:
I don’t remember “Pa Pa” as much as I wish I did, but I do remember a few things.  He drove a pickup truck and when I was a little girl he would let me sit on his lap, and while he operated the gas and the brake, I would get to “drive” with the steering wheel.  (When you live in a little town surrounded by country roads you can do this.)
I remember going to the cotton gin located on the main street running through Dodson and he showed me off to some of his friends and bought me a soda out of the soda machine there (quite a treat back in the day!).  My cousin, Kandi Ford, and I had a blast climbing and playing in the huge mountain of cotton seed that had been separated from the cotton.
Picture of the cotton gin in Dodson, Texas, taken just a few years ago.  The little house to the left of the building belonged to my father's brother, Lex Ford and Lex' wife, Ethel:

I also remember a time when I thought he had to be the king of the world.  We would often go live with “Ma” whenever my father had an overseas military assignment.  I guess Pa Pa was living “elsewhere” at the time (because he wasn’t with us), and we were in need of groceries.  He showed up with several bags of groceries.  Here is the hero part:  in those bags of groceries, among the meat and produce, etc., was the biggest bag of M&M’s I had ever seen!  This was back in the day when most people bought the little individual bags and I was absolutely thrilled.  I guess I’ve always had a love affair with chocolate!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mr. Parker (As Told by Dee Dee)

What can you say about someone (outside of family) that has had the biggest impact on your life?  Well, for Mr. Ted Parker, I will have to say he was a once-in-a-lifetime teacher.

He came to teach at our school when I was in the 7th or 8th grade.  He was a high school teacher, but he was the junior high girls’ and boys’ basketball coach.

When I got in high school, he helped me overcome so much of the inferiority complex that I had.  He pushed me into playing basketball, and he always gave me a part in the plays and operettas (even though I couldn’t sing a lick).  He would always give me a speaking part.  I did fairly well at acting.

I don’t know how he taught all the classes he did.  He taught geography (yes, we did have that), history, civics, music, and coached all the basketball teams.  He always called me "Gaye Bell".  I can still hear him as I would be running down the basketball court:  “Come on, Gaye Bell – you can do it!”  He made us learn all the states and their capitals; I still know them today.  We had to learn all the U.S. presidents and the order in which they served.  I don’t remember that.
He took time with every student and worked with each one on their weaknesses.  I’m not bragging, but for a shy, introverted girl as I was, I ended up winning many honors.  I was voted “Most Popular”, “Best All Around”, “Class Queen” and a couple of others.  But the best one of all – I made All-Tournament Team.  Mr. Parker wrote in my year book that it was one of his proudest moments when I was the first girl guard from our school to make all-tournament team.
He always said he had high hopes for my going to college, and when our college test was submitted to Canyon State College my scores were one of three highest submitted to them and the college personnel office was looking for me to arrange a scholarship.  The only thing is I had married in January, and I did graduate in May, but Larry had plans on going back to school at Weatherford.  I did finally get a college degree at age 48, and although it was only an Associate’s, I was proud to have at least gotten it.
I regret that I never contacted Mr. Parker and let him know what a good influence he had on my life.  So all of you that have had a once-in-a-lifetime teacher, if they are still living, look them up and tell them.  You’ll be so glad you did, and I’m sure the teacher will appreciate it, too.
(Note:  Below is the newspaper article and accompanying pictures that appeared in the “Hollis News” that profiled Mr. Ted Parker.  An advertisement on the back of the clipping advertises an upcoming event on July 31, 1991.)