Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lloyd Lawry

L is for Lloyd Lawry.  He was my uncle, my Daddy's half brother. When he retired he moved to Mena, Arkansas and lived there until he passed away.  I loved my Uncle Lloyd and enjoyed spending time with him.   He loved to play dominoes and we often played 42.  He was a serious Bible student and we spent many hours discussing the Bible.

One of my favorite memories if him involves wallpaper.  I knew that he had put up some wallpaper in his house, and I was wanting to wallpaper my daughters bedroom.  I asked for his help and he agreed. As I applied the wallpaper he gave me tips and directions.  Even though he didn't actually apply any of the wallpaper, he said several times, "I would never do this for money, only for love."

Uncle Lloyd had a number of interesting sayings.  If something was quite long he would say that it was longer than a well rope.  If someone was determined to do something he would say that they would do it if it hair lipped every goat in Texas.

Shortly before he passed away he compiled family stories, genealogy, obituaries, birth announcements, and some of his Bible studies.  He placed them in a notebook and gave me a copy.  In this notebook was a short life history he wrote.

written by Lloyd Lawry

I was born at my Aunt Cody's (Cora Hixson) June 9,1919. From one of Mama's letters I learned we lived in Mildred, Kansas in 1920. Daddy worked at the cement plant there.  We lived in Yates Center where Daddy ran a restaurant in 1924.  I remember living in Chanute, Kansas at some time with Mama when she and Daddy separated.  We all lived together in Wichita, Kansas where Daddy worked in an oil refinery, but by the time I was 6 they had separated. Mama and I were living alone by the time I started to school.

Mama told me some things I did when we were in Texas visiting her relatives: One time there was a jar of jalapeno peppers on the table and I kept asking for one thinking they were pickles. When I persisted she gave me one and I ate it without blinking an eye (when she knew it must be burning me up).  Another time there was a Ku Klux Klan parade, all of them in their white robes. I kept hollering, "which one is Grandpa", because I knew he was in the parade. Yet another time an old colored lady who had worked for the family for years shook hands with me and I looked closely at my hand after she shook it. She said, "Bless your little heart honey, it won't rub off."

Mama and I lived in Wichita, Kansas from just before I was six until she died shortly after my ninth birthday. For some time she worked as a waitress in a restaurant on 21st street. She made $12 a week, and got all of her meals and two meals a day for me. We lived in several different apartments, and after she married Marion Doyle we live in two different houses.

In the second grade I had a little red-headed freckle-face girl friend. We were so small we sat in one theater seat to watch the silent movie. Mama offered to give us an ice cream cone if I would bring her in the restaurant, but I wouldn't do it because I knew they would tease me.

One Christmas I was in a program where I had to say, "These grapes from far Italy's vine the children of Italy send, and greetings as glad as of yore they keep for their Christmas friend." Mama bought a huge bunch of grapes thinking I would bring them home after the program and we could share them. However, I ate them all as I watched the rest of the program.

For Christmas 1927 Mama made an imitation fireplace with cardboard, box and spread my presents around it. Among other things she got me the books Little Women, Little Men, Penrod, and Penrod
and Sam. She said in a letter to Grandma Lawry that I had read them and understood them.

When it was obvious to the adults that Mama would soon die, Daddy came and got me and took me home with him to Buffville. This was just after school was out in the spring of 1928. I had a good time fishing and swimming with the boys in Buffville, but one day Daddy came down to the shale pit where we were swimming, took me in his arms and said, "Mama's gone."

My sister Opal was a tiny baby and Daddy needed to get me to Wichita for mama's funeral, so he arranged with my Aunt Cody to put me aboard the train she was taking to Wichita. He took me to Yates Center to put me on the train, but she wasn't on it! He finally put me on the train anyway and I went to Wichita by myself . We later learned the train I was on was a special train and the one Aunt Cody was on came a little later. When I got to Wichita I tugged my heavy suitcase to the taxi cab and told the driver the address. He took me to the house where Mama had died.  I never did like Marion Doyle but my heart went out to him at Mama's funeral, because he cried as if his heart was being torn out of his body.

I went back to live with Daddy and Hazel at Buffville. For many nights I cried myself to sleep mourning for my mother.  Hazel was real good to me, but I wasn't very nice to her for several years.  I was happy fishing, swimming and hunting with the Buffville boys, but then when I was 12 we rented a house on a farm and it was quite lonely with no one to play with.

We continued to rent a house on some farm as long as I was home. After I graduated Glen Boyer and I hitch-hiked to Western Kansas and shocked wheat for several farmers. We would be out in the field just as the sun came up and didn't quit in the evening until the sun went down. We made $2.00 a day, and I got home with $13.

I joined the Civilian Conservation Corp later in the summer of 1937 and spent 23 months there.  I got $30 a month, $5 in cash and the rest sent to my foIks. After 13 months I became assistant leader and got $36 a month.  After I got out in June 1939, Toby Boyer and I hitch-hiked to Colorado looking for work. We couldn't find any so hitch-hiked back home again.

Connie Schultheiss and I hitch-hiked to Dumas, Texas hunting for work but couldn't find any so started to hitch-hike back to Kansas. We were standing in a sleet storm with cars flying by us when I bet Connie a chicken fried steak dinner the next car would pick us up. He took me up on it and sure enough the next car picked us up and took us all the way to Wichita, Kansas. The only bad part was I had to sit in the back seat with a huge German Shepherd dog!  At least I got the chicken fried steak dinner.

We hitch-hiked home from Wichita. In the early spring of 1940 Connie and I drove his Model A Ford to Riverside, California taking the famous "Route 66" highway. He found a job picking oranges, but I couldn't find one. I hitch-hiked up the coast of California and through Oregon to visit Uncle Johnny Lawry.  I would buy a bus ticket and ride all night, because it was cheaper than a hotel. I finally hitch-hiked back down to Riverside and Connie and I started up the coast in the Model A, but it burnt up.

We decide to ride freight trains back to Kansas. Going out of California we were about 5 cars back of the engine on top of a car when we went through a tunnel. The smoke almost smothered us, so after we got out of the tunnel we moved farther back on the train. We got off the train on one side of Las Vegas, walked through town and caught another freight train on the other side of town.  We got off in Ogden, Utah and spent the night, then rode another freight train to Omaha, Nebraska. We hitch-hiked home to Kansas from there.

The family moved to Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where we lived with Jessie and John Borton in a three-roomed house.  In early 1941 I hitch-hiked to Altoona, Kansas and then to Cooper, Texas where I stayed with Eileen and Charles Wright until Doris and Bill Robertson came and took me to Dallas with them. This ended my hitch-hiking days.

Since my employment with Braniff International covered all but eight months of the period from March 1941 until June 1981, I felt that an account of my tour of duty might be of some interest.  I went to work for Braniff Airways the last part of March 1941 for $70 a month. Since the only other job I had worked at was as an elevator operator for $12.50 a week, I felt that f had it made.

I almost lost the Braniff job because I missed one day, occasioned by the loss of the badge they gave me to get in the gate. They were already tightening security in anticipation of World War II.  I was living with Dorris and Bill Robertson at the time, and we decided that their colored maid must have taken the badge.  When I went back the next day Braniff gave me another badge and all was well.

I had to move to a boarding house when I was assigned to the 12 midnight to 8 A. M. shift. It was a miserable time for me because it was in the middle of a hot summer. I had only a little 8 inch noisy fan to keep me cool while I slept, so I never got much sleep.  The boarding house landlady fed me three meals a day, but the lunch she sent for me was a half of a sandwich and some cookies or fruit.  I worked at the main stock room by myself, my main job being to take parts to the line service stockroom when they requested them by telephone. Between times I filed purchase orders, often falling asleep on the act of filing one. One night I left the windows down on the car used to carry parts to the line service stockroom and it got soggily wet from a hard rain.

When I got on the day shift it was easier. I established a financial plan where I paid the landlady $15 every two weeks for room and board, bought a two weeks supply of streetcar/bus tokens, sent $20 a month home to the folks, and blew the rest of the $34.65 I was paid every two weeks.  Streetcar/bus tokens were 5 cents a piece. I rode the street car to downtown Dallas and transferred to a bus for the ride to Love Field. We would, in 1941, go by cotton fields between downtown and Love Field.

At that time Braniff's main office was in Oklahoma City and our pay checks were often two or three days late.  After Pearl Harbor many of the men I worked with volunteered or were drafted into military service. I was 4F and didn't have to go. Braniff began to hire a bunch of new people and I began to serve a sort of supervisor role (without any pay increase).  I especially had to help the women fit into our work routine.

In 1944 the work schedule for July was posted showing me working Sunday for the second month in a row. I told my boss I wouldn't work it. I didn't, but had to quit to avoid it. He told me I did fine work, but he didn't like my attitude. The personnel manager told me I would never work for Braniff again. Boy was he wrong!

In the next few months I worked for Air Associates, carried U. S. Mail, worked for a sporting goods company, and for Devoe and. Reynolds Paint Company.  In March 1945, I went back out to Braniff with a sort of a "hat in my hand" attitude and told my former boss I would like to go back to work for Braniff. By that time good help was so hard to get that he went to the personnel manager and persuaded him to re-hire me. This time the job was permanent, as it lasted to June 30, 1981.

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  1. Man, you have people doing genealogy, and I'm working at a severe disadvantage for my tribe!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. Another fascinating story of your family! Really enjoyed reading it.

    abcw team