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Eddie & Sarah Johnson, Page 2

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Eddie & Sarah Johnson, Page 2
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Wes Tom & Nell Johnson
Earl Johnson's History
Earl Johnson's History, Page 2

 

On January 20th 1918 they were married and went to Dallas to live. Granny was very sad that her little girl moved so far away. (It was only about eighty miles but that was a long way in those days).

Four months later, May 4, 1918 Granny's husband Eddie, died. In his latter years he began to lose his memory. In those days doctors didn't know what they know today and thought he had gone crazy. (He probably had Alzheimer’s Disease). When he became really sick he tried to commit suicide and he also tried to kill Granny. So they put him in the state insane asylum in Terrell, Texas where he stayed until he died. The hospital shipped his body to Cooper by train and sent Granny a telegram telling her when the train would arrive.

I remember Granny telling me this story. She said, "I had to hitch up the team to the wagon and drive the seven miles to Cooper to get his body. The coffin bounced in the back of the wagon as I drove back on the rough roads.” No doubt that was the saddest day of her life.

Granny told me many storied about her beloved husband, Ed, she called him. I wish I could remember all of them, but I was much younger then and not too interested. She told me how hard he worked in the cotton fields, and he would come home for lunch hot and hungry. He loved ice cream, especially in the hot summertime, so she would have a hand-cranked freezer of homemade ice cream for him. She said, "Although it was in the hot summertime, he would eat so much he would have to put on his heavy overcoat."

She told a story about when their place became overrun with cats. It seemed that people would bring their unwanted cats to the gin next door when they brought their cotton. Many of them took up residents at their place and they were so wild that no one could catch them. After awhile they multiplied until there were dozens of them. She said, "One day Ed took his shotgun outside and declared war on them. When he got through there were dead cats all over the place." When Granny would tell me these stories I could feel the love and affection she held in her heart for him, and how she missed him. Although he had been dead many years she spoke of him as if it were only yesterday.

Just five month after Granny's husband Eddie died, Mary Viola and Charles Edgar had their first child. She was born October 31, 1918, and they named her Vivian. Viola and Charles had been married just barely nine months when Vivian was born. Granny said jokingly, "The first baby can come anytime, but the second one always takes nine months." Before the baby was born Charles brought Viola back home to Granny's house so she could take care of her and the baby. Of course Granny did so, gladly.”

As I said earlier about Cuma moving back into the Wilson home with her boys after her husband died. Her oldest son Johnny Skeen and my daddy Wes Tom were close in age and were best friends.

September 9, 1920, Granny's father John Wilson also died, adding another heartache to Granny's life with many more to come.

When my daddy (Wes Tom) was a teenager he got a job at the cotton gin that was next door to their house. His first job there was to throw long sticks of wood, called cord wood, into a fire-box. This was to heat a boiler that powered the steam engine. This was a hot, dirty job but he was glad to have it. He still worked on the farm until all of their cotton was harvested, then worked at the gin. After his daddy, Eddie, died he was needed in the fields more than ever. I remember Daddy telling me this story, "I was only ten years old when Daddy died and not really old enough to do a man's work, but I would stand on a wooden box in order to be tall enough to lift up the harness on the horses. I had to learn early in life how to do a man's job." He never went to school after that. It seemed the farm and the gin took up most of his time.

Viola and Charles' second child, Mary Louise, was born January 13, 1921. Again Charles brought her back home so Granny could take care of her. Charles and Viola still lived in Dallas. When Vivian was about four years old she remembers a few times her mother Viola, taking her and her little sister Mary Louise to Granny's by train. The closest train station to Lake Creek was at Enloe, about five miles west. Wes Tom or James Allen ‘Jim’ meeting the train to take them to Granny's house. They were in a horse-drawn buggy, it was always at night and very cold. They wrapped the children in a large lap-robe that was heavy, wooly and scratchy, but oh so warm. This was quite an experience for two little city girls.

All the family was still up and waiting for them inside the warm house. Sue Ann and Harvena 'Red' took Vivian to the smokehouse that was just in back of the kitchen. This was used to store cured meat, and was also used as storeroom and creamery. Granny always raised a hog or two for meat, and had a few cows for the milk and cream. She never remarried after Eddie died, so she and her children did all the chores as well as working the farm.

Granny had brought the milk into the storeroom and put it in crock jars, the kind they used to make pickles and sour kraut, that was on a long table. Then the cream would rise to the top and could be skimmed off to make butter. It was so cold in that room that the cream had frozen. Vivian remembers Sue Ann and Red lifting her and Mary Louise up so they could watch them skim off some of the frozen cream and put it in a bowl. Then they added sugar and vanilla, and they all ate and ate. Of course none of them ever told Granny about them eating her butter cream.

When Viola and Charles third child was born they had moved to Eldorado Arkansas where Charles worked as a mechanic in an oil field. It was a boy and they named him Charles Richard Dick Edgar Jr. Viola didn't receive the proper care when the baby was born and she had blood poisoning. She grew weaker and weaker and could not care for herself or the baby. Vivian remembers trying to help her mother; I would wash the baby's clothes in my little blue and orange toy tub.

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When Granny found out about Viola's condition she took a train to Eldorado. There was nothing she could do to help her as the blood poison was so bad. She got her up and took her and the children to Dallas by train. The children got a lot of attention from the people on the train; they felt sorry for the sick lady with three small children. When they arrived in Dallas Granny took her straight to the hospital, but she didn't live very long. She died March 26, 1923 and was buried in Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. Granny said that if Charles had brought Viola home to have the baby as before, she could have taken care of her and she wouldn't have died.

Charles Richard (Dick) Edgar and his two daughters: Vivian left, and Mary right. This picture was taken in 1925 in Granny Kate's yard, the year the girls came to live with her. Could he be telling them good-bye? 

That is probably true but we can't go back and change the things that life deals us.

After Viola’s death Charles took Vivian, Mary Louise and Dick to Los Angeles to live with his mother. Vivian wrote, "Sometimes we lived with his sister Betty, we called her Aunt Betty, in Portland Oregon. About a year later Charles remarried; he married a woman named Andrine 'Ann' and they had a daughter and named her Joy. For a time Mary and I were bounced back and forth from Dallas to Los Angeles."

Charles and Ann were Catholic and thought they should attend a Catholic school. This really displeased Granny, so she ask Charles if the children could live with her. Charles agreed, so in August 1925 he brought Vivian and Mary Louise to Granny. Vivian was seven and a half and Mary Louise was three and a half. Granny raised them until they were grown.

The girls seemed to like living with Granny, they loved our aunts, Red and Naomi, and Uncle Tom who was now seventeen years old. By now James Allen (Uncle Jim) had married and left home. His wife was named Vella. Vivian missed her father very much and Uncle Tom kind of took his place.

Vivian recalls she could always count on Uncle Tom to fix broken things for her or for a little school money. He became her idol; he was kind, patient and gentle with her. Uncle Tom had a lot of curiosity, and wanted to know how things worked. He could usually figure it out and could duplicate things if he had the right materials. He made a lot of things for us kids to play with.

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Back row: Granny, Naomi (Aunt Mutt) and Wes Tom. Front row: Mary, and Vivian [holding her Uncle Tom's hand]. Picture taken in 1925. You can see the 'Flying Ginny'.

Vivian sent this picture and wrote, "In the picture above you can see the old 'Flying Ginny' that Uncle Tom made. The Flying Ginny was made from trees that he brought up from the Tommom forest land. He set the middle pole in some kind of ball bearings and anchored it in four directions. He had to have help from some of the relatives and friends to hold it up and work on it. Each end had a little seat. It worked like a Merry-Go-Round. It really worked very well. We had a lot of fun with that. It was on the east side of Granny's house and the chimney was on the west side of the house. If you look closely, you can see the chimney on top of Granny's head in the background. Also, you can see the old cotton gin was on the west side of Granny's house. The gin was steam powered back then”

Vivian remembers Uncle Tom making a crystal set radio for her. She was amazed at hearing music, news and other programs. Del Rio, Texas came in loud and clear. She remembers following him around and was interested in what he was doing. He had a forge and an anvil in the back yard where he sharpened plows and shod the horses and mules. He could make things on the anvil, even parts for his motorcycle.  Some times he would take the kids for a ride on his motorcycle  which was a thrill.

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Wes Tom Johnson, age 17. Picture taken in 1925.

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Vivian recalls, "When Dick was about four years old he had the Rickets. His little legs were so thin and weak. He could not walk. He had been living with his paternal grandmother, Mother Hooks. Mother Hooks contacted Granny and asked her if she could take Dick and care for him and maybe her care and the country air would help him. Granny said, 'Of course.' So Dick came to live with Granny. Mary and I were already with Granny. I believe this was in 1926.

Well, Granny fed Dick good food and lots of milk. She massaged his little legs by the hour. And, Lo and Behold, he gradually gained strength in his legs and was able to walk. Then Mother Hooks came and took him home with her. Granny gave her a good scolding about how to take care of him and he never had any trouble with the Rickets again.

When Dick was about twelve, Mother Hooks, became very ill. She had cancer of the liver. So Dick came to live with Granny again. He stayed with Granny from 1934 until 1938. Then he went to live with Dad and Ann in Arizona.”

Dick, on his pony, Ranger

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Vivian once told me, "Uncle Tom was into photography, taking pictures and developing them. He never did get it just right but he did make some dim pictures. He also made movies by hanging a sheet on the back wall of the hall. This was the screen. Then he set his homemade projector outside in the sunlight. In the beginning the pictures were upside down, but he fixed that by using an extra mirror. He once made a Ferris wheel. He went to the woods and cut long poles to build it. It looked and worked something like a real Ferris wheel but it did not have a motor. So we would tease Billy, our pet goat, then run and jump in one of the seats. Billy would butt the back of the seat, and that would make it go around. When the next seat came by the person in it would continue to tease him and he would butt the back of it, and kept it going. James Allen's (Uncle Jim) wife Vella, contracted tuberculosis and he brought her back home so Granny could take care of her. Granny was glad to help her and put her in the east bedroom and made all the others stay out.

Sue Ann Johnson, in the seat of a Ferris Wheel that Wes Tom made.

She bathed her, took all of her meals to her and read to her. She washed all of her clothes and bedding using strong lye soap and boiled them in the wash pot. In spite of her loving care, Aunt Vella died. I believe she is buried in the Lake Creek Cemetery."

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After Aunt Vella died Uncle Jim went to North Dakota and worked on a farm. He came back bought farm in Craddock, Texas northwest Paris. In 1928 he came to Granny and told her he was going to lose the farm because he didn't have enough money to pay the taxes. At that time, if a family was living on a farm, it could not be sold for taxes. I guess one man was not considered a family. He convinced Granny to move to the farm until he could get the tax money so it would not be sold. Granny was not overly thrilled about it but she would do what she thought was best for one of her kids.

They hitched the horses to the wagon and loaded it with all they could, some furniture, clothing, and things they needed most and started on the thirty mile trip to Craddock. They also tied some of the farm animals to the back of the wagon. There was Granny and her children: James Allen, Wes Tom, Sue Ann, Naomi, Harvena 'Red' and her granddaughters Vivian and Mary Louise. They must have attracted a lot of attention; by now most everyone went by car or truck down the highway.

Wes Tom Johnson and Nell Stone, 1929. Picture taken between High and Craddock, Texas.

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Naomi Johnson & Everett Cain, 1929

 

Go to: Eddie & Sarah Johnson, Page 3

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Left to right: James Allen (Jim), not known, Sue Ann, Wes Tom, Johnny Skeen, & Harvena (Red).