Thursday, November 26, 2015

Proud To Be An Okie

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, that both of my parents migrated from Oklahoma in about 1941 when they were about six years old.  

They were both the youngest out of their families with their oldest sibling being about ten years older than them.  My Father had three brothers and one sister.  My Mother had two sisters and three brothers.  Both of my parents were working in the fields at the age of six.

The photo below is of my Father at the age of three, and his sister at the age of five.  They were still living in Anadarko, Caddo County, Oklahoma on their Grandfather, Virgil Johnson's farm.
Lawrence Gerald Johnson, aka Johnny and Ellen Jane Johnson

The photo below is of my Aunt Thelma, my Mother Rosie, and her other sister, Bernice.  My Mom looks like she was about five in this photo so the family may have still been in Oklahoma.

Thelma Irene, Rosie Mae, and Helen Bernice
Neither one of my parents had an easy life.  I remember hearing stories about how their parents loaded up the car with mattresses, pots and pans, all the kids, and would sleep on the side of the road on their way to California.  Oftentimes, there wouldn't be enough food to eat.  My Mom told me that her family lived in a chicken coop for a while.

They were not treated well by many people in California and were oftentimes discriminated against because they were Arkies and Okies.  They were considered to be dirty, dumb, ignorant, and mean.  Well, some of them might have been, but the majority were not.

I am what is now called a 2nd generation Okie.  I was born in Camp Chaffee, Arkansas because my Father was in the army.  I was brought to California when I was a few week old.  I was raised around Okies that had emmigrated from Oklahoma, etc., and their children.  I grew up in an environment that was economically just a step above what my parents grew up in.

We Okie's have much to be proud of.  I will be posting articles from newspapers that people wrote and letters that people sent into the newspapers regarding the Okies.  Please see the first one below.

This is a letter published in:

The Fresno Bee The Republican (Fresno, California) Thu, Mar 23, 1944

Fighting "Okies"
     Editor of The Bee--Sir:  I read in the want ad section that Emory L Cauble had a six room home to rent, but specified he did not want to rent to "Okies."
     Well, I do not get what he means by that.  Does he think he is better than an "Okie"?  After all, the boys they call "Okies" are fighting right next to the boys from California and doing a hell of a good job.        A SOLDIER.
     Fresno Air Base.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Uncle Mart and Holland Family

Martin Holland and Rosille Rosetta King
Martin Holland was my 2nd Great Grandfather, but was generally known to most people as Uncle Mart.  He was married to my 2nd Great Grandmother, Rosille Rosetta King.

Grandpa Mart was quite a character, and was always entertaining someone with his antics.  There are many stories about him

The story below tells a little bit about the Holland family history as well as Grandpa/Uncle Mart.

The following "Wagon Train" story was provided via the research of Cora Burton, and was written by an unknown author in 1984: 
"In either 1875 or 1876 about five families of Hollands who were all farming in Kentucky decided to join a wagon train headed for California. It is known that at one time before the Civil War the Hollands owned two-thirds of Wolfe County, Kentucky. 

Uncle Mart, his wife and children, Wesley, Harrison, and Lou Alice then three years old, were about to eat their breakfast when the wagon train pulled up. Rossille later recalled to her granddaughter, Bertha, how Mart didn't give them time to eat. He said to get the kids and go. She picked up Lou and left a new pair of shoes sitting on the stair step and Mart left a fine breed mare standing in the stable. 

Also known to be on the same wagon train with them were Mart's father and mother, several brothers including Elisha and wife, Sarah, and probably one sister. It is unknown how many families or different families were on it but it is estimated the Hollands were maybe two years on the road before eventually settling in Arkansas.

It is passed down that Lou Alice remembers her dad telling her in 1930 when he (Uncle Mart) was 104 years old and visited Texas, the wagon train stopped close to Dallas and camped in the Trinity River bottom and the river was dry. While they were camped there they were robbed by white masked men. The robbers took all the men's money including Uncle Mart's. Some of the women had money hidden on themselves and he remembered Sarah and Elisha's money.

Some of the familes that didn't have any money to continue to California stayed there and founded a part of what is now Dallas. Although one of the Holland families must have stayed, the others decided to return to Kentucky. When this small wagon train reached Washington County, Arkansas, Mart's father, Jack and family decided to remain there. Mart and Lish and their families continued on to Mountain Home, Baxter County, Arkansas. Lish and Sarah's last known child, Mollie, was born in 1879 in Arkansas. Soon thereafter Lish, Sarah, and all their children except the oldest son, Taylor Holland, went back to Kentucky. Taylor married Sallie Faut on December 17, 1891, and moved before or after that to Oklahoma to settle and raise his family there. Mart and Rossille also had a child born in 1879. William Franklin was born on the fifteenth of November in Mountain Home. They also had twin boys (or girls Arminnnie & Armannie?) born in Baxter County and both died when they were small. They are buied at the Hort Cemetery on the Old Highway 5 - southeast of Mt. Home on the James Baker place. A son Floyd Lonzo born in February, 1888, and their last child a daughter, Julia Ann born on January 24, 1891, concluded their family of six children.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Rosie and Johnny-Lordy How They Could Love

The Beautiful Rosie Mae Smith Johnson
The Tall, Dark, and Handsome Lawrence Gerald Johnson, aka John or Johnny

My Dad's Aunt Ola and Uncle Wesley Meek lived across the street from my Grandmother and Grandfather Smith, and my Mom. My Dad used to visit his Aunt and Uncle.  That is how Rosie and Johnny met.  After they met, he was a more frequent visitor.

My Dad used to tell the story of how he saw this beautiful girl with golden hair across the street.  When he saw her up close, he also saw that she had the most beautiful green eyes.  He said that he decided right then and there, that he was going to marry her someday.  They were 17 years old when they met.

They had a very fiery, passionate love with all of the ups and downs.  There would be times that they would fight like cats and dogs, and at other times they were all lovey, and couldn't get enough of each other.

Rosie and Johnny married at the age of 19. I was born 9 months later.  My Dad had been drafted to join the Army and had to leave shortly after they were married for boot camp.  My Mom was upset because she didn't get the big wedding she had always dreamed of.  The wedding was rushed because of my Dad being drafted. 

They were very much like Frankie and Johnny in the Elvis Presley movie by the same name.  They couldn't live with each other and they couldn't live without one another.  

Rosie And Johnny"

  Rosie and me we were lovers
Oh lordy how we could love
Swore we'd be true to each other
Just as true as stars above
I was her man, she caught me doing her wrong

They were soooo beautiful....

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Joke was on Us-Grandma Pulled a Fast One!

As a child growing up, my maternal grandmother took care of my sister and me while our parents worked.

I loved my Grandma and Grandpa Smith so much.  I probably spent more time with them than I did with my own parents.  I would follow my grandmother everywhere she went.  I must have listened to them more when they were talking than I knew at the time.  I say this because I can remember quite a bit of family history that I could only have picked up from them. 

My Grandparents and their kids, as well as, other family members immigrated to California from Oklahoma about 1940 or 1941.  They eventually settled in a little town called Poplar in Tulare County.  Before settling in Poplar, they lived in various labor camps staying in places for short periods of time.  They went where the work took them.  Yeah, they were Okies. 

Our parents worked very hard in the fields, hoeing cotton, picking cotton, picking fruit, and whatever  kind of work they could scrounge up.  We were very poor.

Anyway, Grandma always told us that her name was Stella Marie.  I don't know how many times I heard her say that her name was Stella Marie.  Her maiden name was Holland. 

Grandma and Grandpa had six kids, and 30 grand-kids.  I was really close to both of them because they took care of me for so long.  The other grand-kids lived much further away.  

When the grand-kids started having kids, some of them started giving their daughters the name of Marie for their second name.  You can imagine how many great grand-kids they had with 30 grand-kids!  So there are all of these little girls running around who are descended from Fred and Stella Smith with the middle name of Marie.

When my turn came around, of course, I named my daughter Lauren Marie!  My Grandma was in the hospital because the doctors thought she had suffered a stroke.  I was in the hospital because I had given birth.  I spoke to my Grandma several times while we were both in the hospital.  I told her that I had named the baby after her.

I didn't realize how sick my Grandma was.  She never went home from the hospital.  She passed away on February 14th, 1985.  My daughter was 11 days old.  I was devastated.  My beloved Grandmother would never meet my daughter.  What was I going to do without my Grandma?  I was almost 30 years old, and didn't know what I was going to do without my Grandma....

It was after Grandma passed away, and I was reading her obituary that I was even more shocked than I was already from her passing.  In her obituary, it said that her name was Stella Ethel Smith.  I am thinking, Ethel? Ethel?  Where did this Ethel come from?  I called my Aunt Thelma who was responsible for including the Ethel in Grandma's obituary.  She confirmed that Ethel, was indeed,  Grandma's name.

On the SS death index, it has Grandma's name as Stella Ethel Smith.  There was no mention of Marie on the index.  I am not sure if Grandma gave herself the name of Marie and ignored the name of Ethel because she didn't like it, or what happened with Grandma's name.  All I know is that when Grandma said her name was Stella Marie in front of Grandpa, in front of God, in front of her kids, and anyone else who would listen, not one soul spoke up.  Nobody asked her if she wasn't forgetting that she had another name of Ethel. 

I bet when Aunt Thelma got to Heaven, she got a good butt whuppin' for adding that Ethel in there!  She may still be getting them. 

At least we didn't name a bunch of her great granddaughters Ethel!....I'm sure Grandma is happy about that, since she went to such great lengths to never mention the name.