ANCESTRY: The LeGendre’s of Arkansas (6)

momgettingcomputer1987 001

The happiest I’ve ever seen my mother, this was taken Christmas day 1987.   She received her first computer (a Tandy). That’s what she used when she wrote her memoirs.

For new readers, these are my mothers notes. They’re retyped with all the errors and with her punctuation. Her memoirs were the gift she left my sister and me in 1992. She passed away June 1993 from sun stroke.

 For parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, please look under “memorabilia”


World War I, had not yet ended and no houses were available.

  • We had to stay in a boarding house for several days. Until Dad was able to find a one room apartment with a small lean-too kitchen attached.  Owned by Mr Dorsett, on Liberty Street.

Mr Dorsett’s two-story brick house had large, twelve foot wide, halls running through the center of each of its two floors.

  • Two, one room apartments, were upstairs – one on each side of the hall.
  • The two downstairs apartments consisted of one large room (about 12’ x 12’) and a small “lean-to” kitchenette – about 8’ x 6’ or smaller.
  • The owner occupied one of the downstairs apartments and we rented the other one.
  • The house had only one toilet (flush) – and it was located in a lean-to, built on the outside, back of the house near the end of the downstairs hall – for the convenience of all the inhabitants of the four apartments.

(For Saturday night bathes, all the family members, in each apartment, had to heat water on the kitchen cook stove, and take their bath in a small round washtub.)

The owner’s daughter, Lillian Dorsett, was about my age but much meaner and wiser in many ways (Her older sister, Elizabeth, was nice.)  The first few days we enjoyed each others company.

Then one day while we were playing in a ditch full of fallen leave, Lillian decided that it would be fun to bury me in a pile of leaves.  I wasn’t about to be covered with those leaves.

Trying to get her way, she begin threatening me:  She said that God was up in the sky watching us, and if I didn’t do what she told me to do, “He” was going to punish me.  I didn’t know what she was talking about, but I still knew that I had no intention of being buried in all those leaves.

  • About midnight, that night, we had a severe thunderstorm. I was scared and knew that God had come to punish me; and kept my head buried under the covers.  (I never said anything about it to my parents.)

The next morning, since I had survived, I know that Lillian didn’t know what she was talking about.  From then on, I made it a habit to avoid her.

  • Mother apparently sensed the overbearing nature of Lillian, because she told me to stay on my side of the yard.

11 November 1919:  World War I ended.   (The sun was shining and it was a beautiful warm day.)  I spent the day lying on the front yard terrace, watching the World War I, fighter planes as they glided across the sky overhead.  The first airplanes I had ever seen; and I was fascinated when the pilots flew low enough to look down and wave to me.

  • I was disappointed when the airplanes didn’t return the next morning.

Mother enjoyed mingling with people and it didn’t take her long to know everyone in the neighborhood.

  • If anyone needed help, she would drop everything at home and go over to help.

Mother’s best friend was Ruby Hudson, who lived in the house next door.  Ruby’s son Andrew – was about my age – and we played together a lot.  (Ruby was a bookkeeper in a local store.)

  • If my memory is correct, Ruby Hudson’s husband was killed in Germany, November 11, 1918 — an hour before the signing of the World War I armistice.

A number of years later, Ruby developed TB and was confined in the Booneville, Arkansas TB Hospital, for a year or more.

(Our family drove up the hospital several times to see her.)

Someone had ripped open a feather pillow in their yard, and feathers were flying everywhere.  For days, Andrew and I entertained ourselves by trying to see who could sail the feathers, one at a time, the highest and farthest into the sky.

(The last time I saw Andrew he was a wiry 6’6” and married.)

  • Mother often treated us with cookies, fresh rolls, bread, or candy to munch on as we played.

Mother always made sure there was something around for us to snack on.  Often buying special treats for us; yet she was very strict, demanding and always had us under control.

We were never allowed to have any money of our own, or make any decisions regarding our toys, clothes, etc.

We were taught that children were to be seen and not heard.  Not to speak unless spoken too; never ask any questions.  We were the quietest and most polite children around; and she treasured the praise she received from other parents.  Nevertheless, we were nothing more than zombies.

  • (To this day, if I make a request for something and its refused, I’ll never ask again – a trait running through all of us.)
  • We learn though the years, that what is acceptable for one generation, may be unacceptable for the next era.

I know that Mother had a very hard and strict childhood and I presume that Dad’s wasn’t any better.  Therefore, I am very grateful that we received the quality of upbringing that we did.

  • Which was a great improvement over theirs. We really had an ideal childhood considering the times.  Yet, our parents acted very childish when they were angry.
  • I am inclined to believe that Mother’s compulsion for money was the results of the way she was treated as a child and teenager.

(Her father took the money she earned and spent it on whiskey.)

  • Since the patterns used in their up-bringing was the only guide they had to rely on in our up-bringing; our life was a great improvement over what our parents had experienced.
  • Our parents made ever effort to provide us with the best of everything in time, energy, and necessities.
  • Nevertheless, it seemed that Herbert, Harold and I were always isolated from the rest of the world, as far as relatives and playmates were concerned.
  • Mother’s desire was to prevent us from bothering other people.

Its possible that our parents were so anxious to make our childhood comfortable and happy for us, that our biggest problem stemmed from the fact that we were always in-the-dark as to what was going on.

As far as I can remember, no effort was ever made to inform us, in advance, of any of the possible future events anticipated; or maybe I didn’t listen or understand?

  • Mother and Dad communicated in secret, as far as we children were concerned. The only communication between us and our parent was in the form of commands, demands, or reprimands.
  • Which were orders that fell upon us like bomb shells.


NEXT:  Telephone service in 1920 and how to resolve fights between kids under 5 with boxing gloves and a switch.