My First Decade - 1948



      When we first moved into the house, Jeanne and I slept in the big bedroom in the back of the house. I think we shared a double bed. She would tell me stories about Jack O'Nory and Jan, two characters that she made up. I guess it helped us go to sleep at night. I remember a little verse Daddy would tell us when we would beg him to tell us a story:
     "I'll tell you a story 'bout Jack O'Nory
           and now my story's begun.
     I'll tell you another about his brother
           and now my story is done!"
That may be where Jeanne got the name for her stories. Jan was his sister though. Even after they moved me to the little bedroom we would talk back and forth through the wall. We'd get so noisy that Momma and Daddy would fuss at us to be quiet. It was easy for them to hear us, because the closet that separated their bedroom from Jeanne's only had boards on one side of the studs, and there were gaps between the boards. The bedroom side of the wall was covered with wall paper so in the gaps between the boards the walls were paper thin.

      I donít have any memories of the remainder of first grade or of my seventh birthday in February 1948. I didnít learn much in school. My memories of the first two grades mostly are blurred together.

A Secret Revealed

      One night in April or May of 1948 I was in bed for the night, but I thought that I could here a strange noise. It sounded like the washing machine agitator grinding back and forth. It sounded like it was coming from the kitchen and moving down the hall toward the bedroom. I was scared so I ran to the front room (ignoring the fact that I'd be going through the hall and kitchen where I imagined the sound to be) and found Momma and Daddy sitting on the couch. I told Momma I was scared, and she asked if I would go back to bed and go to sleep if she told me a secret. I agreed and she told me that I was going to have a new baby brother or sister!


47-48 Cleveland First Grade
      Aunt Reva Dale took photographs of all the school classes sometime near the end of school in 1948. This photo shows the first grade. I'm in the center of the row. My dark red hair shows up as much darker than the other boys with light colored hair. My step cousin, Lavonne is all in white at the end of the line. Judy Scroggins is next to her. Cleo Summers is standing on my right and that may be Franklin Dagley on my left. I don't remember who the others are.



Nell O'Neal and friend
      The little girl is Nell OíNeal. She is just a year older than I am, however, she was just a little over five years old when she started to school so she was a couple of grades ahead of me. I'm not sure who the other girl is. They have told me that Nell chased me around the school yard trying to kiss me on my first day at school. Her mother, Elmas, is exactly 30 years older than I am. Elmas was one of Daddyís maternal cousins and the families visited often. My best friend in school was Nellís little brother, Jimmy, who was a year younger than I.

     Years later, when Nell was a young teen and the rest of us were preteens, she had to have her appendix removed. After she was out of the hospital, they came over for a visit and we kids went to the bedroom and Nell pulled her skirt waist down to show us her scar. Jimmy was the youngest in the family and had a grown sister and a older teenage brother. He thus knew more of the facts of life than I did. I was reluctant to believe what he told me though.

Nell has a beautiful alto voice and in later years she recorded religious music with a local one-man recording studio and gave and sold the records to family and friends. She also served as Cleveland Postmaster for many years.

Starting Second Grade

      I started the second grade in the fall of 1948. I think I had forgotten anything I had learned in the first grade. I think I played alone most of the time. I eventually learned to read because I didnít like the way my little sister read the funnies. She insisted on pronouncing "The Phantom" "fan-thumb"! I'm not sure how she learned to read, but she could recite the words of The Bouncing Bear when I was in the first grade. I said she just had it memorized and wasn't really able to read. Still she read the funnies to me because it was to hard for me to sound out the words for myself.

Brenda's Birth in November

      About all I remember of the birth of Brenda is that Momma was gone for several days. Back in those days women were kept in the hospital for several days after they had given birth. We probably stayed with Grandma Halbrook. Momma and Daddy were 28 years old. I was almost eight and Jeanne was almost seven.


Family gathered around the new baby
      No one had a camera flash so Momma put BrendaĎs bassinet on the front porch in the sun to get a good photo. However, the sunlit area came out overexposed. Grandma Maxwell is on the left and Grandma Halbrook is on the right with Momma in the middle. Jeanne is standing by Momma and I am behind Jeanne. Momma looks beautiful and happy in this photograph. I look like I'm feeling a little left out.




Baby Brenda
They either changed the camera or bassinet position and got this good photo of Brenda. Grandma Halbrook is standing beside her.

Uncle Clyde and Aunt Pearlís Visit

      Uncle Clyde and Aunt Pearl came to visit soon after Momma and Brenda got home from the hospital. There were no phones back in those days, so visitors just came by. It was customary to go out and meet visitors in the yard, so Momma and Daddy went out to meet them. Brenda was in a bassinet beside Momma and Daddyís bed in the front bedroom. I was so proud of her that I went to the bassinet and lifted her out, but I was so small I lost my balance and fell over backwards! She landed on top of me and so was not hurt. I managed to pick her up and take her to the door to meet the visitors.

The Outhouse

      Since we didn't have indoor plumbing, we had to have an outhouse. Ours was no bigger than about four feet by four feet, if that big. The base and stool were cast of concrete. There was a vent hole in the base behind the stool connected to a hole in the roof with a square vent pipe made of boards nailed together. A 'store bought' seat and lid were fastened to the stool. We often used a Sears and Roebuck catalog instead of commercial toilet paper. It was no fun to get up in the morning and run across the yard to the outhouse in my bare feet and pajamas especially in cold, wet or snowy weather. We may have had a 'slop' jar in the house for emergency use; I know Grandpa and Grandma Maxwell had one. Slop jars were hard enough for children to use, I don't know how adults managed. I also don't know why they didn't have a stool of some sort with the slop jar under it.

      When the pit under the outhouse got full, they dug a new one and slid the outhouse over the new hole. Dirt from the new hole was used to cover the old one. Some people didn't even have a pit underneath. They would have a 'two-holer' and use one hole for a while, then put lime on the pile under that hole and switch to the other hole.

1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950
1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960


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First Five Years Originally Posted 1/28/01
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