Mom's Story of how she and Dad met, got engaged, got married and lived happily ever after!
Contributor: DdraigGoch Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
Mom always told me how she always dreamed of having her own home, with a dear husband and their own children. She always yearned for that as a young person, after her mother died and their family was never the same without her dear mother. She remembered when her father pulled up from driving a freight truck for a living and being away from home, and how her mother had always quickly gathered her little family around the piano, and their six little children would sing, "I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home." What a big hole this memory left in her heart, when her mother died. So when she and Dad fell in love, she was going to fix this big hole in her heart and create her own home sweet home. Back when they were young, the community dances were their week-end fun. They had dance bands, and in fact her own mother was a great piano player, she played by ear, played in a dance band and the whole family would go the to dances and the little children would just fall asleep on the cultural hall floor, while their parents and the older children had a great time. Well Dad played the drums for $1 per night, in the Zach Farr dance band and he was a fairly new guy in town at the time, (Farmington and Kirtland, New Mexico area). It was depression times and jobs were scarce.
This is Mom's version of how they met:
(Letter from Mom to Dad on their 53rd Anniversary)
My Darling Husband,January 1, 1993
As this is the eve of our 53rd anniversary, my thoughts go back to the year we met—Oct. 1939. You were so-o-o-o-o handsome sitting up on the bandstand playing the drums for the dance at the Allen’s Hall. I believe it was the Halloween dance in late October. I had become reacquainted with your sister Wanda that day, having gone to school with her several years back in Mesa, Arizona. My friend Ethelyn Cardon and I invited Wanda to go to the dance with us. It was customary in those days to go to the dances as a group of girls and then, if you were lucky, some good looking boy would ask you if he could have the honor of taking you home. My friend, Ethelyn, never, just NEVER had a problem getting that accomplished. She was very good looking, danced well, built well and had a personality to go with it, so it was always just a matter of time to find out who was going to get the honor. Now me, don’t misunderstand, I had just loads of friends and had plenty of dance partners, but I wasn’t the “take home” type that was sought after. I never could figure that out, but I was honored that they all loved me and made a fuss over me and claimed me as their little sister. Now don’t make the mistake of thinking I didn’t have a boyfriend, because I did. His name was Kelly Crawford. He was away at school in Albuquerque, and nobody messed around with Kelly’s girl while he was gone. As a result I went to the dances with my friends and went home alone. What a bummer that was. On this particular night, we three girls had a plan. Ethelyn was a shoo-in as far as getting home was concerned and we were pretty certain Wanda could start a new rhythm in the heart of some nice boy that was looking for a pretty girl to take home. We had gone to the dance in your family car and you were to drive us all home after the dance. According to our plans I would be the only passenger riding home. I hadn’t seen you before, so I didn’t know what a break I was getting. But when I saw you, I knew I had the cream of the evening and not the tailings. Wanda took us up to the bandstand to introduce her friends to you and I couldn’t believe you asked me for the next dance, instead of Ethelyn. Well—that made my night. You were the most heavenly dancer I had ever cut a rug with. We seemed to just blend right in. There were no moments of not knowing what to do or say. We were very comfortable with each other and I had the feeling we were indeed spoken for in heaven. You danced with Ethelyn and Wanda once, but the rest of the evening was mine—all mine. After each dance you would keep hold of my hand and take me to the bandstand with you so we could talk while you were waiting to get another break from the drums, so we could dance again. As I think about it now, I guess it must have been love at first sight for both of us. You pulled a bottle of fingernail polish out of your pocket and calmly painted my fingernails, then said you would have to take me home to remove it, because you didn’t have any remover. I thought that was funny because I knew you had to take me home anyway. When we went home we sat in the car and talked about the things we wanted to do in our life. You wanted to go to school and I wanted to be a nurse. We decided it was time to take me to the door, which you did. You put your arms around me and gave me a most sweet gentle kiss and I said, “Oh my gosh, now you gotta marry me.” I loved you then my darling and I love you now with a love that has grown deep and strong with all the passing years of joy, happiness, sadness and sorrow, that raising a family of seven beautiful children can bring to a man and woman whose sole desire has been to help them to find happiness in this life and to have the desire to live a life of worth and worthiness that they may someday return to their Father in Heaven, having completed this earthly journey with honor.
This is the first chapter:
After that, it was a whirl wind romance, and they did get married on New Years Day. They made the trip soon after to be sealed on February 26, 1940, in the Salt Lake Temple. You didn't have to wait a year to be sealed, back then, because it was such a long way to go. Mom described their first home as one they shared with her brother Halworth whom we always called "Bub", (which stuck when his little brother called him Bub for brother), and his new bride, Carmen. Grandpa Tanner gave Dad a job at his flour mill in Allison, Colorado and the two couples lived, or 'camped', in an old ramshackle house there. Mom had $5.00 that someone gave her as a wedding present and Dad had a couple of dollars, so with the new job in addition to $100 that Grandpa gave them for a wedding present, they just dove in and got married and started their life together. They were too inexperienced with life to be worried how they would survive, so they just did. They put up blankets for walls to divide the house up into their own area. But they were sooo happy and had fun being 'close' neighbors with Bub and Carmen. They were really anxious to get their own place though, and soon that dream came true. They moved to Bayfield, Colorado and stayed with her Dad and Ruth for a while so that Dad could build a flour mill there for Grandpa. Dad also finished building Grandpa's house that his younger brother started and didn't finish. Dad also after working all day on the mill, worked to build their little house for just them. He soon had that done, and I remember it very well, we lived in it until I was out of 1st grade. Dad did work in Albuquerque in between in the carpentry trade on and off. They were blissfully happy and soon had their first baby, (me, Jackie) on the way. Two and a half years later, their second baby, Sharon came along. Dad and Mom went to Tuscon where Grandad and Grandmother had moved to for work and were in a terrible car accident when a drunk Mexican fellow hit them head on. Mom was pregnant with Sharon and was quite far along in her pregnancy at the time of the crash. She was in the hospital for some time with a concussion and amnesia. She didn't know anybody, so it was scary for a while. When Sharon was born, she was what they called a "blue baby". The doctors thought Sharon would die, and so they told our parents to take her home and love her because they probably wouldn't have her very long. Sharon survived, but she was kind of sickly all her life, not knowing what was her problem. She itched terribly and rubbed holes in her sheets from rubbing her feet back and forth to scratch them. Also, her arms developed tough, rough looking skin from her rubbing at them constantly. She also rubbed her lovely dark eyebrows off from rubbing at her face. Finally at age 14, Sharon became very ill and Mother rushed her to a doctor, Dr. Peacock in Farmington, who then finally discovered Sharon had a terrible big mass in her abdomen. They took her to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where they discovered the mass was a large three pound tumor on her liver, which had suddenly hemorrhaged. They operated on her and removed it, and showed it to our parents. Dad said it looked like a huge cow liver. They said, it was not malignant, but that her liver had strange brown spots on it. I really think she suffered lacerations on her liver in that awful car accident, while in her mother's body, prior to her birth. Her liver probably bled internally and produced the brown spots, and that is why she was a "blue baby". Sharon died at age 64 from liver cancer, probably as a result from that accident. But at least she had a pretty full life, had a family and became a grandmother.
The 2nd World war came along and Dad was not drafted because he had two children. But when Pearl Harbor was bombed, that changed all of that, he was drafted into the army to go the war with Japan. He was sent to San Diego, CA for training and just prior to being shipped out, Mom was able to go to San Diego to be with him. She got pregnant with Sally while they were together. Mom prayed to Heavenly Father that please to let her be pregnant, and let it be a boy if he was not coming back or if he was coming back, let it be a girl. Dad was headed to be a replacement in the front lines and many men didn't come back. Her prayers were answered in the positive, because he was one of 30 men who had builder/carpenter experience who were plucked out of about 30,000 men heading to the front lines. These 30 men were sent to the Philippines to build General McAuther's headquarters. In one of his letters, Dad asked mom to name her Sally Helen, which mom honored half the name and called her Sally Kay. Mom didn't ever like her name much. Maybe because some people teased her and would say things like, "Well, Hi Hell--en." She wasn't much for that kind of thing. I remember well the night my mom went to the hospital. We were staying in Albuquerque with Dad's parents and his sisters went to the drug store and got some castor oil for mom to drink to induce her. She drank the horrible stuff and sure enough, it started her contractions. I remember being very excited to get a new baby sister. I was too young to remember Sharon's birth, but I remember Sally's.
We three little girls were the apple of our Stradling Grandparent's eyes. We were the first and only grandchildren for quite a while. Greg was the first boy on the Stradling side, then Aunt Wanda's twins boys, Robin and Roger were born. Greg was about the 5th boy on the Tanner side. Then Aunt Wanda's twins were born. Sally was taught a poem Mother wrote (of course she did), when Greg was born on December 10th, which she promptly got up at the Ward Christmas program and spoke over the microphone. "I'm not the baby anymore, 'cause Mama's got another, He's made to love and kiss, My little baby brother." She was soo cute when she did that on her own at age
Mom's (Helen's) story about how she felt about her loss of her Mother, (Mary or Mamie, as she was called).
Contributor: DdraigGoch Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
A page from a young girl’s diary, December 1939
They have accepted me!!! The Stradlings have accepted me!!! My chin lifts a little higher, my step feels light as a feather. I feel a glow creep into my cheeks. I can stand up straight and look people in the eye when spoken to. They like me!! Yes, I really think they do. My life is going to be different now. I am going to “belong”. I will be a Stradling!! Wayne loves me more than anyone in the world. He told me so. He will be mine and I will be his forever and ever. We will make a home together and no one will ever take it away from me. I will have a baby really soon---a little girl----her name will be Jacquolyn. I hope Wayne likes that name. That has been special to me for so long. I even pretended it was my second name and had it engraved on my High School graduation cards. Aunt Elsie and Aunt Peg wondered why I did such a dumb thing, but I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. I knew they wouldn’t understand. I wanted my little girl to be named after me and I didn’t want it to be Helen. I wanted it to be more glamorous. Sometimes you don’t feel like explaining heart felt things. These are the thoughts that were tumbling around in my head as I walked home to my brother Harold’s house. Wayne had to go to work but we are going to a big dance in Shiprock tonight. We love to dance!!! Wayne is the best dancer in town and I am truly the envy of all my friends. A first, of course. Imagine him choosing me!!! It was really true!!!! I let out a big “Yip-pe” as I jumped over a log in the path that stretched out across the vacant lot. I was never going to feel alone again ----ever---- My heart sings!!!
Mom told me about her feelings of loss when her mother was killed in the truck accident, which also caused the death, soon after, of her little sister, Marie, who was about 3 years old. Mother was about 7 years old and the adults gathered in their home to talk about the tragedy, and were unmindful of the little ones hovering about them and their feelings. Her mother's sisters were talking about how Marie had to go (to Heaven) with her mother, because she simply was a mama's girl and couldn't have done without her mother. Mom, said in her mind she thought, "I can't do without my mother either!!" That was such an unfair comment to her little girl heart. She always expressed to me how much she missed her mother, even though she had kind aunts who looked out for her, she so missed her, all her life. She and her siblings were broken up as a family because it was during depression times and her Dad was freighting with a truck to make a living for his family. He would be gone extended periods of time. They lived in Red Mesa where her dad owned a flour mill and he had his mother, take care of the family for a while. Then later he farmed them out with different aunts and uncles for their care, when he remarried Ruth McGee. Ruth was a younger woman, and although he had 7 children in the family, he had 7 more with Ruth. Ruth wanted her own home, and didn't want to be a stepmother to the large family, although she did raise Colin, who was the youngest child, as a three month old baby at the time of their mother's death. Colin thought of Ruth as his mother, because she was all he could remember of a mother. He loved her and was grateful to her that she raised him. Mom mostly stayed with Aunt Elsie and Uncle Art Tanner. Elsie was Mamie's sister, and Art was her dad's brother, so their children were her double cousins. Aunt Elsie and Uncle Art had a big family of 7 boys and one girl, who was one of the youngest. Mom was in the same age group as the oldest boys. So she worked hard to help her Aunt Elsie, cook, clean and wash and iron clothes. Aunt Elsie, though she was a kindly woman and very good to Mom, misunderstood electricity when it came into use. Mom was allowed to heat up the electric iron, then had to unplug it and could use it as long as it stayed hot, then she had to revert to the old irons heated on the coal stove. We laughed about that in later years.
As she was growing up, she would hang around outside of the home where her Dad lived with Ruth and their kids when she thought her Dad might be coming home. He always acted glad to see her and if she needed anything did his best to help her. Her Dad was very loving and loved all of his children and would give her money if she needed a new dress for a special dance, or for anything she needed. How Mom loved her Dad, but sooo missed her mother!
Mom told me how much she loved our Dad's mother, Elizabeth Stradling. We all called her grandmother, and Mom called her "Mom Stradling". She told me how kind she was to her and how much she helped her learn how to be a homemaker, a mother and a gardener. She taught mom how to can fruit and other things. She taught Mom how to sew as well. She was a very good mother-in-law to her. She took her in when Dad was drafted into the army and had to leave his family for Japan. Grandmother told Mom she and us girls could come anytime and stay with them in Albuquerque, NM. Sharon and I were little at the time, I (Jackie) being born in 1940 and Sharon in 1942. Sally was actually born in Albuquerque at the time, while Dad was away in the Philippines Islands. Before Dad went to war, he worked for Grandpa Tanner at his flour mill, for a while at Bayfield, Co, then later at Allison, CO at the time he left for Japan. As a result, Mom stayed at their home in Allison for a while and would get lonely and go to Albuquerque to stay with Dad's family for a while. She alternated her time between the two places. I remember our life very well in both places.