ANCESTRY: The LeGendre’s of Arkansas (8)
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 through 7 please look under “memorabilia” https://rantingalong.wordpress.com/
1921 Radios were just coming in.
As far as I know, Dad had no formal training in radios other than what he may have read in mechanical magazines or books.
Nevertheless, when radios were released to the public, after World War I, Dad had them on display in the office of the Peoples Electric Company, the first radios in the State of Arkansas.
` Many people in the city were interested, in the “new talking box”.
At first, Dad had the radio – a large, highly polished, wooden box, about the size of a medium size upright refrigerator – moved from the office, and place in one corner of the large hall, which was used as a living room, in our house.
(The house was built in the shape of an “U”. With two parallel sets of rooms – three rooms each — connected in front by a big hall.)
- Every night, people would come to the house, from all around town, to sit in front of that box, an await their tern to mount the one set of earphones – provided by the manufacturer – over their ears to enjoy the pleasure of listening to whatever magic message or noise could be picked out of the air.
- Dad decided that sharing the earphones was too much of a nuisance. So he converted an old record player horn into a loudspeaker – which was unheard of at the time – and made the listeners happy.
- That soon became too much of a problem with people hanging around the house until after midnight when KDKA went off the air.
Dad moved the radio back to the office and arranged for one of the employees to remain at the office each night until the last “listener” had left.
Unfortunately the reception was very poor, most of the time. In order to eliminate the problem, keep the listeners happy, and get standing orders for future sales of radios:
- Dad placed, on top of the radio, an old Victory record player horn, with a switch, and converted it to a loudspeaker.
- Then Dad ran a wire from the radio horn, in the front office, to a small shed in the back of the office
- In the shed, the wire was attached to a microphone, with an “employee” announcer, a record player, and a supply of records. (Similar to today’s disk jockey.)
When the radio reception – in the office – became too bad, r faded out, one of the workers would “retire” to the shed. Dad would start turning the deial and miraculous locate a new station, which was much clearer – and in reality from the shed in back of the office.
Herbert and Harold were each given a new tricycles to ride and enjoy; with instruction to never leave them in the driveway or around the old barn, back of the house. Several months later, Harold made the mistake of leaving his tricycle in the drive-way.
Dad drove in late one dark rainy night; and as he made the semi-circle swing around a patch of weeds into the old barn (used as a garage) he ran into Harold’s tricycle – smashing it.
- Dad was MAD! He threw the tricycle away and Harold never had another one. (I don’t remember if the truck was damaged.)
Dad was hot-headed, quick temper, and unpredictable. We never knew when he was going to fly off of the handle and go into a rage, start hitting and trowing everything in sight, and fuming for weeks. Sometimes we didn’t know why – and no one dared to ask.
- With all of his yelling, screaming, fuming and raving, the only curse word I ever heard him used was “hell”. When he said hell, we all started making tracks in the opposite direction.
Dad and Mother were both great at pouting. They would sulk and not speak directly to each other for a month at a time, before deciding to makeup, and then everything was lovy-dovy.
- It was childish and pathetic.
- The amusing part, when they were on their pouting spree’s, was when company came in: our parents actions were a work of art! (No actor are actress could have played a better part.) The visitors were graciously entertained, and never aware of the environment in which they had entered.
- The outcome worked to our benefit; The barrier was broken and they were communicating again.
- Their problems could have stemmed from the fact that Mother was the oldest child in her family, and Dad was the youngest in his family. Thus, presenting a conflict in ideas and values.
When Mother and Dad were angry at each other, I had to act as their message carrier. Mother would tell me what to tell Dad and he would tell me what to tell her or vice versa – even if they were in the same room.
- Both independent, and “self-centered”.
This was the era when married women were considered 3’d class citizens and had no “rights”, other than those provided by their husband.
- (At birth girls were automatically confined to the role of “man’s servant”.)
- Yet, Dad was very liberal. Mother had complete freedom to do as she pleased; (Until she over-charged her store accounts, by several hundreds of dollars.) (She couldn’t pass up a good bargain.)
Occasionally, when running an errand, Mother would tell me to take a penny, of the change, and buy some candy. I saw a sign in the bakery window, “Find a yellow center in your candy and win a baseball”. I went in and bought a sack of the candy.
- When I bit into a piece, the lady asked me if it had a yellow center? I really didn’t know because of the slightly yellowish tinge of the filling – certainly not white; so I said yes, and the lady gave me the ball. I took it home an gave the ball to Herbert and Harold.
1921 Summer: The Baptist Church, located across the street from the light office, was sponsoring a Baptist Church District Convention. The local minister asked Dad, if he could help, by providing a room or meals for some of the visitors? Mother agreed to provide the meals for four of the visiting ministers.
- According to the way they ate, they really enjoy their meals.
- A young minister asked Mother to let me attend the young peoples program they were conducting at the church.
- I went (youngest there) but didn’t have the vaguest idea as to what was going on.
- Nevertheless, the young minister took a lot of time in helping me with my lessons.
- At the end of the convention, I stood in line and received my diploma –? For being there?
My most vivid memories of Liberty Street: Every afternoon, during the summer, I had to stand in the sun and water the street.
An effort to limit the huge clouds of dust that rolled into the house every time a car or wagon traveled the street – plowing through the deep ruts of loose dirt — which was often.
(Air conditioners were unheard of. Everyone had to keep all windows and doors open so the air could circulate throughout the house.)
Fall 1921: I entered the second grade. Mother entered Herbert in kindergarten and walked home. After she left Herbert got down in the middle of the floor and started kicking, yelling, disrupting the whole school.
- The principle called Mother and ask her “to come and get Herbert”!
Mrs Gregory had taught the second grade, in the Marianna Grammar School, for 34 years prior to my entering her class.
- Dad was manager of The People’s Power and Light Company and Mrs. Gregory “had plans” to use me for special favors for her family.
- Second grade: My report card during the entire school year was a sheet of “A,s”. Yet I despised reading, regardless of how hard I tried to understand and like it.
Reading and spelling are still my problems today.
- The words were meaningless and spelling had no rhyme or reason.
- I would spend days trying to memorize a short four line poem with no success.
- Consequently, written words are hard for my mind to comprehend.
Our parents were both avid readers and realized that I had a reading problem. They made arrangements with Mrs Gregory, second grade teacher, to tutor me in reading for an hour every Saturday morning at her home.
Each Saturday morning, for several months, I walked about a mile over to Mrs Gregory’s house where I was supposed to be tutor in reading and spelling. In reality, I got very little, if any, private reading and spelling tutoring, for which my parent were paying her a dollar an hour.
- Mary Frances Johnson, a girl in my second grade class, was having problems with arithmetic. Mrs Gregory scheduled both of us for the same hour. We were tutored in arithmetic; but seldom was anything even mentioned about reading or spelling.
- When I mentioned it to my parents, they promptly discontinued the private lessons.
Next: The neighbors. discovering there is no Santa, and a bout with diphtheria.