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I found an ad in the paper that said "House for Sale" at 756 South Graham. It was a new subdivision off Park Avenue, close to the new Kennedy Veterans Hospital. I went and camped on the man's doorstep until he got home. Earl had gotten a job at the Gordon Potato Chip Company, driving a route truck. He was gone on a overnight route into Arkansas. Anyway, the guy showed me the house and it had two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen and cost $4250. I bought it on the spot, moved in, and had everything in place, curtains, and shades up, before Earl got home. When he got back to the office, they had to tell him where he lived. This will tell you what a easygoing guy he was, he didn't care what I did and always said that buying that house was the smartest thing I ever did. (Must have been easier to buy a house back then).
Helen and Woody bought on the street behind us and we worked a lot in the yards together. We mixed concrete for walks, I latticed in the back porch and built a grill in the backyard, even laid the bricks myself. We had fun with the other people that worked for Gordon's too. Earl and his boss George Williamson were golfing buddies. Earl would rather play golf then about anything and was good enough to have gone pro.
Helen and Woody
Gladys and George lived on Greer Road and Gladys had a baby boy by this time that they named Billy. Billy was never well. He stayed on oxygen all the time and died when he was about three months old. Their finances weren't the best then and they moved to the country with Daddy, Mama, and Gene. When Daddy and Mama had been in the country about two years, one Saturday night Daddy had a cerebral hemorrhage and only lived one week afterward. He died in 1943. Then in 1946, Maudie died of the very same thing. After practicing for Easter music one night, she was walking down the church steps when it happened. She was rushed to the hospital but had another hemorrhage. I saw her have it and she was gone. My Mama was never the same. She had always been so alive and busy and she just lost it.
Daddy, Mama, Patty, Carolyn, and Billy
Earl and I were happy in our little house on Graham Street. Two of his sisters and their families moved on the same street as us. That was Gerrie and Billye. Patty was in school on the campus of Memphis State University at that time. There was no church out there yet, so some people started meeting in their front yard. Patty and I went but Earl was on the golf course on Sundays. We sat on benches under the trees and we grew and grew. When the local Baptist association learned about us, they bought us a house on the corner of Park and Watson and we made it into a real church. We tore out walls, made curtains, fixed a nursery, and I refinished our first pulpit. We named it Kennedy Baptist Church. We enjoyed that church, at least Patty and I did (Earl was on the golf course). The association furnished us a pastor until we could find one on our own. We called a young man to be our pastor who had a wife and two little boys. We loved him and the church grew. We had tent revivals and everything was going wonderfully well when calamity struck. There was a church member who was a policeman. He was out patrolling on the Memphis State grounds when he came upon the pastor and one of the teenage boys of the church lying together on a blanket under the trees. He felt that he had to tell the church. On Wednesday night, the church voted to dismiss the pastor. It was the worst thing I had ever seen happen in a church and I'll never forget it. The pastor walked down the middle aisle of the church and out the door with tears streaming down his face. Everyone was crying and it was a heartbreaking thing. I never knew what happened to him. We carried on and called another pastor named Charles Wingo. We outgrew the little house and built a real church on the spot. The church grew so fast, and I sang in the choir (still do today) and sang duets and solos too.
Patty was about 4 when Earl was drafted. He was sent to a camp in Alabama to train. Patty and I rode the train to see him. The trains were so crowded that we had to sit on our suitcase in the aisle but the soldiers were kind to us and helped us out. When we got there, we went to a kind of a bed and breakfast place and could go at visiting times and watch Earl drill. Earl was waiting to go fight when the war was declared over, so he was sent to Japan for the occupation. Patty and I were alone for a long time. The hospital was filling up with injured vets and there were people needing a place to stay, so I took in boarders for extra money. I only had a bicycle for transportation, so I took Patty's walker and made a seat on the back of the bike and put a basket on the front, and that's how I got groceries and such. One time, I hung her foot in the spokes and liked to twisted it off. Earl's brother had been shot down over Switzerland (he was a pilot) and killed and since Earl was the only surviving son, he was discharged. Patty and I rode the train to North Carolina to stay while he was mustered out. Then we came home together to our home on Graham. William Earl King Jr. (Bill) was born there in 1948.
Earl, Dorothy and Patty
Gladys and George had to put Mama in a nursing home because she had gotten to where she wandered away from home. The first time I went to see mama, she was sitting on a bench all alone trying to tie her shoe and it broke my heart to see her like that. She had always been so full of life and now that was gone. I didn't want her there and Earl told me to go get her but I didn't know what to do. Mama died there in 1953. The night she died, I'd been called and told that she was bad. Willodene (Walters wife) and I went and sat with her. She wasn't coherent but all of a sudden, she looked at me and said "I love you" and I said "I love you too" and she was gone. She and Daddy had belonged to the Boulevard Baptist Church from the time I was 12. Daddy was a deacon there but when they moved to the country there wasn't but one church and it was Methodist, so that's where they went. When Mama died we wanted her funeral to be at Boulevard but they said since Mama had "left the faith" that we couldn't have her funeral there. I always have thought that was awful of that church.
Gladys and George decided to move to Florida awhile before Mama died. They sold the farm and George left for Tampa. Gladys had to have a surgery, so she and Carolyn stayed with us for a while, and then they went to Tampa. George already had a cute little stucco house bought and had bought a 27 foot sloop(boat). Before the farm sold, the wonderful neighbors out there stole all of Mama and Daddy's things out of the house, like quilts, dishes, and even pictures.
Please continue on to Chapter Eight
© 2000 Patty Garrison
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