BY Clara Colvin Rogers
March 6, 1996
My mom was a good person. She never went anywhere much, stayed home, raised all us kids. She loved all her kids so much. People back in her days growing up, they visited their neighbors. Mom still had that in her raising. So every once in a while she would put on a clean dress and get her handkerchief and go visit a neighbor. But as far as I remember, none of them ever came to visit her. Mom always had to work when she was growing up, picking cotton, etc.. Her sisters were younger than her, so she got the jobs. We talked her into going to visit Aunt Esther in California. She hated it out there. Esther’s kids played their music all time of the night and she had to sleep in the same room. Must have been awful for her. When she got home she never went anywhere else. Aunt Bulah wrote Mom a letter once and told her she was neglecting Dad, so Mom never had any use for her after that. I think she did neglect Dad maybe, for her kids always come first. Later years after the kids was all gone and she didn’t have any thing to do, she walked a lot and was very much lost. I think she really didn’t like Dad so she was looking for someone to love her. Think she had very little real happiness in her life. She was in a nursing home for 7 years after Dad died. She hated it.
Well, Dad was a good person too, but he liked to drink when he got the chance which contributed to Mom and him didn’t get along. Every 2 weeks when he got his check, he and his workers took the motor car and went to cash their checks and get grocerys at Pampa (Texas). Dad would always drink several beers while he was there and then come home and Mom just couldn’t stand it. Think she was afraid of him when he drank. Sometimes she would take us kids to the toilet when he came home like this until he sobered up. Don’t think he would have harmed any of us, he loved us kids too. As far as I know he never hit Mom. I think he loved her more than she loved him. Dad would rock us kids way into the night when we were sick, then go to work next morning.
I guess us kids didn’t really have rough growing up. We did nearly everything we wanted to do as in those little town, couldn’t get into much trouble. After being out all day playing we always new Mom and Dad would be there for us when we came in. We weren’t the king tho we hugged and kissed but we knew in our hearts we all loved each other.
When Dad and Mom and us moved to Hoover, they cleaned out one big room we had in the Section House and they had a portable record machine and they gave us a dance. One time then I was about 5 I did a little dance and a man gave me a quarter. I was so thrilled. As far I can remember they never had any more dances. Guess all the other kids were being born and not much time.
Lewis on time got up in the middle of the night and started walking down the track and one of the section man saw him and brought him back. He was asleep. If a train had come he would have been killed. Lewis was a go getter to get money to spend as us kids never had any money to spend. He would during harvest when the truckers brought their wheat in to the elevator if there happened to be a train across the track and the farmers had to wait until it got by, Lewis after they left would go out and pick up all the wheat that spilled out while they were waiting. Then he took it to the elevator and sold it. Lewis seemed to find better jobs so he could have spending money as he was crazy about movies. He ran around older men in Hoover and some farmers so the rest of us never got to be with him much.
One time at the supper table, Lewis and I had a fuss about something and I jumped up and stabbed him with my fork. Never hurt him tho, but I guess I could have. I went out to California once when he was in the Army at Sawtell, California. Went out to the base and he and I and a friend of his went to the movies on my $5 the only money I had. Guess he was broke.
Note: Both of the “Colvin Memories” by Bob Colvin and Clara Colvin were transcribed by Chuck Speed from hand written letters composed by each of them separately. I had asked Clara if she could write down her recollections of her past family history. This narrative is a result of that request.
Written in his own words
August 23, 1997
I was born November 3, 1925 to Harty A. Colvin and Mable F. Speed Colvin at Hoover, Gray County, Texas in a Santa Fe Railroad Section House. My dad was a Section Foreman. I already had two brothers, Lewis and Ralph, and a sister, Clara, who was born in the Texas panhandle around Clarendon, Texas. Later, I had a sister, Ivy, and another brother, Boy Van, born in the railroad Section House.
When I was in about the first grade, all ten students in the school were transferred from Hoover to Pampa, Texas, about seven miles away. Grade school was Woodrow Wilson School and high school was Pampa High.
While living in Hoover, I almost electrocuted myself by climbing a railroad telegraph pole. I had eight to ten close calls during my life. They are written about in this biography.
Dad was transferred to Herman, Woods County, Oklahoma in January, 1938. My older brother, Ralph, wanted to finish his junior year of high school in Pampa, Texas so, while Dad went to Herman, Oklahoma, Mom and the rest of us moved three miles north of Hoover to a farm house till school was out. I transferred to a one room school house called Green Lake School in the fifth grade with ten students. While attending this small school, my grades improved from C, D, and F to A, B, and C. There’s a lot better teacher in a small school.
While living at the farm house close to Hoover, everyone experienced a April 1938 blizzard across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Ten degree winds were blowing forty to fifty miles an hour. After the storm was over, my brother, Ralph, was only able to ride to within one mile of our house to get home after the storm. Ralph was attending Pampa High School at the time and had to stay at school while waiting out the storm.
Finally, in June, 1938, our older brother, Lewis, came with a big truck. So, we started to load the truck with our furniture and hauled it to a box car in Hoover to be shipped to Herman, Oklahoma. Then the next day, we all loaded up in Dad’s ’35 Ford and started down the highway toward Herman, Woods County, Oklahoma. By about 5 or 6pm, we made it there. This was June, 1938. It was another small town with about twenty people in population. Besides the railroad families, there was a farm family with about six girls and one boy.
One summer, I learned to drive Dad’s 1935 Ford stick shift to and from the mail box, a quarter of a mile away. Also, I worked on some farms learning to milk cows. Also, another time I was almost bitten by two rattlesnakes while out gathering straw.
Then came September, 1938. School started at Herman School in Woods County. I was in the sixth grade with twelve students, from the first to the eighth grade. My sister, Ivy and brother, Boy Van, were in the same one room school with me. Mrs. Oliver Elder was our teacher.
Then in June, 1940, Dad got a letter that the Santa Fe Railroad was closing the Herman Section. So, all the section moved seven miles south to Belva, Woodward County, Oklahoma. Then in May, 1941, three students along with about eighteen students around Quinlan High School in Oklahoma graduated to Quinlan High School to become freshmen or ninth graders.
I dated a few girls in my 1941 freshman year. While in my sophmore year, I tried to date a girl named Louise but she said, “no.” She didn’t believe in movies. About a week later I asked this other Louise and she said, “yes.” We dated from about 1942 to 43. Also, about the time school was going to start, Mom and I and Ivy and Van moved to Siloam Springs, Arkansas to a place Dad had bought to retire. Ivy and I didn’t like it in Arkansas. We had friends in Bleva and Quinlan so, we came back and stayed with friends in Belva and Quinlan, Oklahoma.
About 1941, while Louise and I were dating, her dad, who was sixty years old, was changing a street light bulb when he passed out. He fell and his head hit the edge of the side walk. He was the owner and operator of the Quinlan Independent Telephone Exchange along with his wife, Nora, and his daughter, Louise. He had experience in climbing wooden poles to change out street lights in Quinlan, but on this occasion, he just passed out. He was taken immediately to the Mooreland Hospital where he lay in a coma for three months. The Chastel family had no other way out but to sell out everything. They sold cows, chickens, and everything and moved to Mooreland, Oklahoma. They later learned from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission that they could not close the Quinlan telephone office. So, the Commission brought Louise back to Quinlan to operate the telephone exchange for thirty days until the telephone exchange could be sold to someone else.
After the sale, Louise went back to Woodward, Oklahoma to start a career in the Southwestern Bell Exchange at Woodward. In the meantime, since I had quite school, the army drafted me on February 22, 1944 and sent me to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Later, I shipped to Sacramento, California.
I arrived at Sacramento, California for six months of telephone procedures and basic training in February, 1944. Then came September, 1944. I was given a two week delay en route furlough to Neosha, Missouri. While en route to Neosha, Missouri, I stopped off at Woodward, Oklahoma for a week. It took me two or three days to talk Louise into marrying me, as she had a good job at Southwestern Bell Telephone. Bu we made another mistake. Instead of just getting married or engaged and leaving her in Woodward to work, we got married on September 14, 1944, in Mooreland, Oklahoma at Reverand James Lochharl’s house and went on to Arkansas to see my mother. Then, I had to report to Camp Crowder, Missouri near Neosha, on September 15, 1944.
Lousie returned to Mooreland, Oklahoma to stay with her parents. On December 7, 1944, our unit with about one thousand soldiers shipped out to Fort Lewis, Washington, en rout to Hawaii. We arrived in Hawaii on December 25, 1944. We were in Hawaii about three months, then Big 10 Army loaded us onto warships headed to Okinawa where the U.S. Tenth Army was engaged in battle. This was south of Japan, about 800 miles. It was here in Okinawa that I received a letter telling me my son, Kenneth, was born on September 10, 1944, in Mooreland, Oklahoma hospital. He was seven months old before I got to see him.
Then, about June, 1945, the war ended in Europe. Then, about August 10, 1945, the Japanese had surrendered after tow atom bombs were dropped on Japan. That made Japan surrender. On January 6, 1946, our Company and a few others were sent to Korea to help rebuild Korea which is South Korea now. Our Company built a telephone central office. It was cold in Korea.
On April 1, 1946, I had two years in the service and I was eligible for discharge. About one thousand soldiers left Korea by boat. We hit a two day typhoon and for the next two weeks we killed time at sea until we entered San Francisco Bay, which looked very good. We were in sight of Alcatraz Island, which was a prison. About two days before, we heard of two men who had small pox, so we were quarantined for two weeks in the bay area on ship. Finally, after about a week and a half, we disembarked to a railroad station en route to Fort Levenworth, Kansas to be discharged. After being discharged, a Yellow Cab took a load of us to Kansas City. Then, we took a bus to Wichita, Kansas and stood up all the way in my uniform, as no one offered me their seat. Then at Wichita, I stopped off to see and visit my older sister, Clara, until I caught a Santa Fe Passenger train en route to Mooreland, Oklahoma to meet my wife, Louise, and son, Kenny. After spending about twenty or thirty days recuperating at Mooreland with Louise, baby Kenneth, and my in-laws, Elie and Nora Chastel, and her brother, Earl, and his wife, Velma, we left for Siloam Springs, Arkansas (about 500 miles) to visit my parents and brother, Van or “Sonny.”
After two or three weeks with my folks, I got a job with the United Telephone Company there. I made a big mistake. I made $40 every fifteen days. While there, I got creosote on my clothes by unloading telephone poles. One day Louise tried to clean the creosote from my clothes on a cold January day and the clothes caught on fire. In our one bedroom house, we had just bought for $10,000, which had no sheetrock around the bathroom, we placed tar paper in the bathroom temporarily. Big Mistake!
As Louise was trying to clean the tar from my clothes by scrubbing out the tar with gasoline outside, Louise and the clothes caught on fire. Immediately, Louise was hollering for the neighbors for help. Kenneth, our baby on only eighteen months of age, crawled between the stool and the wall and was caught there while the fire was burning. One fourth of his hair and scalp was burned off. The neighbors rescued Louise and Kenneth from out of the house and took them to the hospital in Siloam Springs since there was no ambulance available. Louise had second and third degree burns on her left arm and Kenneth had third degree burns on his head and forehead. Luckily, a new Dr. Huckins was discharged from the Army and had experience with burns. He left Louise in the hospital and a Siloam Springs funeral home ambulance driver took Kenneth, Louise’s sister-in-law, Velma Chastel, and her mother, Nora Chastel, to the little Rock Arkansas Children’s Hospital about 500 or 600 miles away. Kenneth received extensive burn treatment there. This all happened in January, 1947.
It was hard for Nora and Velma Chastel to leave Kenneth at the Little Rock Children’s Hospital cause they were with him from the time he was born until seven months before the fire happened.
Every week or so, we would try to go see Ken, they would have an outbreak of chicken pox and we wouldn’t be allowed to visit. Kenny was about eighteen months then. Finally, after two or three months, we received a card from the Little Rock Children’s Hospital telling us he was well enough to come home. Well, we thought this would be a big joy but, when we went to pick him up, he didn’t know us. Yes, he wanted to stay with the nurses…why not? After about forty-five minutes to an hour, he finally came to me, but very slowly. He didn’t recognize Louise really until we got back to the motel by ourselves with him. He then began to play with his mother, Louise.
So, the next day, we boarded a bus back to Siloam Springs. He then began to recognize us. We finally got back to Siloam Springs and walked out to the house, about a mile. We had no car. I was making low wages and with the house fire was broke and had no car. A local restaurant and VFW both donated $100 each to us.
By April, 1947, we just had too much bad luck in Arkansas and decided that I was just working for too low of wages. In the past eleven months, we had used up most of our savings and had two near death accidents. We had no car, had a house fire, and nearly lost Kenneth, our son of only eighteen months. Because of a restaurant owner and the VFW donated about $200, we were able to to pay the hospital bill and had about $50 left over to move back to Mooreland, Oklahoma. So, we boarded a bus with $50 and went back to Mooreland, Oklahoma in April, 1947.
I tried to get a job with Southwestern Bell but they were on strike, so I worked for some carpenters in Woodward, Oklahoma, ten miles away. There had been damage from a tornado that had struck Woodward on April 9, 1947. Later, Southwestern Bell settled their strike and I traveled to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where I was hired on May 26, 1947, as lineman in the Woodward County and western Oklahoma area at $32 a week, paid every other week.
On July 15, 1947, our daughter, Linda Sue, was born in the Mooreland Oklahoma Hospital. Then, about March, 1949, I was transferred to Oklahoma City by Southwestern Bell. In June of 1949, we bought a two bedroom house on the GI Bill for $30 a month. Our two kids started school at John Adams Grade School in about 1950.
During this time at John Adams School, Louise and I were active in Boy and Girl Scouts, Y-for-Baseball, and YMCA bus trips. Then, about 1950, we joined the Selecman Methodist Church. As a family, Louise and I held different jobs in church.
When I first transferred to Oklahoma City, I was a lineman until an opening came by for an installer’s job. One day, as a lineman, our crew was moving a house. As we were raising the telephone cable for the house to go under, a car failed to stop at a stop sign and went between a ladder I was on and a motorcycle police escort. The car hit the police motorcycle and barely missed the ladder I was on…I was ok and the police officer was ok but, close!
After a couple of years on a construction crew, I bid on a installer’s job and made it. I had many very cold days and hot days working outside. I installed telephones on the east side of Oklahoma City as well as the south side of Del City and Midwest City.
When I was about forty years old, I decided I had enough bad weather so, I bid on a deskman job. This was a job that dispatched trouble and tested circuits inside, located at SW 31st and Shartel in an old brick building that housed the “Melrose 632-634” numbers with an old switchboard. This was about 1965. On January 18, 1971, our second granddaughter was born in South Community Hospital (Southwest Medical Center). On October, 1971, we sold our house at 3300 S. Stutts and moved to our present home at 425 SW 63rd Street with two bedrooms and a two car garage. It was called the Southern Oaks Addition.
In June, 1993, Louise and I transferred our church membership from Selecman Methodist Church to Southern Hills Methodist Church on 8200 S. Pennsylvania.
Then, about 1980, Southwestern Bell installed a new test board at 6200 SW Walker. Then, in May, 1983, I retired after thirty-six years. I was only fifty-seven years old at this time, but by working at a few part time jobs, I then reached sixty-two years and started drawing Social Security.
My oldest brother, Lewis Kerr Colvin died June, 1994, in Spokane, Washington. He was named after his two grandfathers, Lewis Speed and Wiley Kerr Colvin. My other brother, Ralph L. Colvin died February, 1995.
On September 10 to 14, 1994, Louise and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with 150 of our friends.
I have also had some surgeries:
1980 two heart bypasses
1982 a small cancer on my prostate was removed (I took 38 treatments to clear up the cancer)
1992 a heart attack (cleaned two veins)
February, 1997, a small heart attack (cleaned two veins)
During September, 1996, Louise had her right knee replaced.
February, 1997 I had retained too much water under my heart, so I was give a water pill every day to reduce the water on my heart.
On September 14, 1998, it will be our 54th wedding anniversary.
My life reminds me of the Walt Disney cartoon, “The Lady and the Tramp.” Louise was the lady and I was the tramp.
Louise was raised on one side of the track and I was raised on the bad side of the railroad track…no discipline by my parents…our family raised ourselves.
After starting high school, I noticed how much better the boys were dressed than I was so, I started slowly buying better clothes at the grocery store that Dad had credit. He didn’t like it very good. I was able to get enough nice clothes that I could date nice, good looking girls like Louise.
I had a lot of bad habits I had to break…slowly, slowly.
Today. We have two granddaughters, Sheila Kedigh and Yvonne Vance. Sheila’s husband is Paul and her three children are Zackery (age thirteen), Jennifer (age eleven), and Elijah (age seven). Yvonna’s children are Brooke (age four) and Blake (age two).
This pretty much brings us up to June 6, 1998, after our third time for a Colvin-Speed Family Reunion with about 12 to 15 cousins attending. We considered it about an average turnout. In 1999. it will be on Sunday, so others who are off work can attend.
Robert L. Colvin
Note added January 2002:
For the 6-10 years every Saturday we took our three grandchildren to the bowling lane to win a scholarship for college. They all started about the age of four years old and now Zackery is sixteen years old. Jennifer is fourteen and Elie is ten years old. Each one has won about $400 to $700 toward a scholarship.
The other two great grandchildren, Brook (seven years old) and Blake (five years old), we took to different places like doctor visits and baby sitting.
On June 6, 2001, I will had surgery on my left leg and had a small spot on my upper part of my leg cleaned out.