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Photo taken about 1919
The Life and Times of Willie and Elgie
Willie and Elgie (called "Papa " and "Granny" by their grandchildren) married in Hopkins County on November 6, 1918. They lived in the area around Sulphur Springs, Texas where they farmed and raised three children, William, (Jr), Ben Maynard and Essie Mae. They lived in the Old Tarrant community, then later moved to the Mahoney community, (Photo of the Church) where they bought their first house from Rich Massey. (Rich was married to Granny's sister Bertha.)
They had a small place - there was the house, the barn and a few acres of land to raise a garden and a truck patch. Papa Smith also raised cotton, borrowing money from the bank to plant the crop, and then praying he would be able to pick enough cotton to sell and pay off the loan at the bank. Then he would turn around and borrow again to plant the next year's crop.....a never ending circle!
There was a cow named 'Baby' that Papa eventually sold to Uncle Curt for $100. Granny and Mynard didn't want Papa to sell the cow, but he felt they needed the money and $100 was a lot of money in the 1930's. The next day, Uncle Curt brought the rope back that he had led the cow home with and when Papa asked about Baby, Uncle Curt said "Willie, she died last night." Papa was always a "fair" person and he insisted Uncle Curt take back the money.
PHOTO of Papa and Granny about 1920
There were other cows which Granny milked most of the time until Mynard got old enough to do the milking. Essie recalls "Mother said when they were first married and she was sick, Daddy would bring the cow to the back porch for her to milk, because he didn't know how to milk a cow." He would never let Essie learn how to milk a cow either, because he said "Little girls shouldn't have to do that." Mynard is pictured here on his horse Ginger.
They did have an automobile. Mynard recalls "Daddy never filled up the car with gas. There was never enough money to fill her up." Money was short during the depression and the Smith Family, like all the families in that area were poor. Mynard told "Daddy would always eat Chili when he had to eat lunch or supper in town. Crackers and catsup were free when you got chili. Daddy would eat half a bowl of chili and then fill it back up with catsup and crackers."
Papa was terrified of storms and insisted the family spend the night in the storm cellar every time it thundered. Mynard and Essie tell of Papa and Granny gathering them up and carrying them to the storm cellar in the middle of the night, but Papa stayed outside to "watch the storm." He didn't like the storm cellar. Mynard and Essie didn't either. There were always spiders and scorpions in there, and even snakes sometimes. One time, Papa's friend Kelly Sanderson, knowing how bad he hated the storm cellar, caught Papa in the cellar and locked the door so that he had to stay in there all night. They were always playing jokes on each other.
Besides milking cows, Granny was an avid cook. She canned a lot of food that was used throughout the year. She had her hands full with taking care of the kids and Papa too. She even worked in the fields picking cotton, while she left the youngest (Essie), at home to do the cooking.
In 1949 Granny, Papa and Essie left the country for the big city of Dallas. Granny and Papa took a job managing a Room & Board House for Kenneth Massey in the 5200 block of Bryan Street in East Dallas. Mynard was a senior in high school so he stayed in Mahoney with Ma Mac (Granny's Mother) to finish out the school year. About 1954 or 1955, Granny and Papa moved to Oklahoma City to go into the Nursing Home business with Bill and Jean. They were still partners in the business when Papa died in 1959. In fact, as the disease progressed, Granny moved Papa from their apartment to a vacant room in the Nursing Home so she could continue to work and still take care of him.
He died of cancer on May 4, 1959.
He would only know a mere handful of the grandchildren he wound up having.
Papa Smith and Randy 1956
After the death of her husband, Granny and Bill and Jean sold the Nursing Home, and Granny moved back to Texas. After a while she took a job in one of Kenneth Massey's boarding houses at 5204 Reiger Avenue in East Dallas. She ran the place almost by herself. She was the manager, the cook, and a lot of the time she was also the cleaning lady.
One time Granny took a job as the cook at a Resort in Colorado: Long Scraggy Mountain Ranch. (Pool and Corral looking north of Raleigh Peak.) For several summers she took time off from the boarding house to work on the ranch in Colorado. She told Essie "the mountains have to make friends with you," and apparently they became her friend. The ranch was literally inaccessible during the winter months, but there was a gentleman caretaker (Post card from Bud.) who stayed there year-round. He was close to Granny's age and they soon became friends. The last summer she worked there, he subtlety suggested they might get married, but Granny was not in favor of that. It was unclear to Essie why she never worked on the ranch again, but she told her Grandson Alan that she suffered with nose bleeds from the mountain heights.
Christmas and Texas-OU Weekend were special times for Granny. All the kids and grandchildren would meet one place or the other for some unforgettable Yule tide and football festivities. She spent a lot of time with her kids and grandchildren. There was a gaggle of them to. Bill and his wife Eula Jean had 4 children, Randy, Debbie, Robin and the youngest, Ginger, who was not yet born when this picture was taken. Mynard and his wife Rose Jean had 3 children, Gayle, Kay and the youngest, Brenda. Essie and her husband Arnis had 1 child, Alan.
PHOTO Texas OU weekend at the boarding house about 1965, Granny, left Gayle, red dress, Brenda, red hair, Debbie, the shy one is Kay, Randy leaning against car, Alan leaning against Randy and Robin with his hat and stick horse.
Granny was forever going and coming and coming and going to see her 'children'. She was often times the baby sitter while the 'Older' kids went to do what ever it was they had to do. Alan tells "I remember riding the Continental Trailways Golden Eagle bus to Oklahoma City a bunch of times with granny to see all my cousins."
Granny never remarried. After she quit work, she lived for several years with her daughter and her second husband Joe. Essie and Joe had bought a little house in the Mahoney community, and Granny also lived there for several years. It was while she lived in Mahoney that she became an active member of the Rebekah Lodge, Independent Order Of Odd Fellows. "She was my second mother," her grandson Alan says. She was dearly loved by all her children, their spouses and grandchildren.
Granny suffered heart problems and on January 7, 1974, the doctor implanted a Cardiac Demand Pacemaker to help her heart beat right again. Then on July 13, 1977 there was new technology which prompted the doctors to replace the old pacemaker with a newer model.
She died of heart disease on April 30, 1979.
She is the inspiration for this web site. It is dedicated to you, Granny.