The Story of my Life
Louise Virginia (Weir) Frasier
|Home||Introduction||Preface||Chapters||Do You Remember?||Stuff||Contact|
hen World War II was over in 1945 Daddy was one of the first to be discharged. We sold the house in Bagdad, Florida and went back to Alabama. We had sold the farm we had there and there was no place to live. We stayed with Pa and Ma Frasier for a month and then moved into the best place we could find. It was pretty sorry: three rooms and not even an outside toilet. We lived there almost two years.
Daddy trained under Public Law 16 for disabled veterans and worked at the Chevrolet place. They didn’t need a mechanic but did need a parts man. He did not want to be a parts man because the mark-up on parts was 80% and he couldn’t live with that.
He finally got them to transfer him to the Ford place where they did need a mechanic. He did well there, but had no time to even look for a house to buy. There was still no houses sold on the monthly payment plan. Besides, everyone kept telling him that he needed to live on a farm. The farms with good houses were not for sale for all the GIs were coming home.
The only thing we had left of the things that we’d left in Alabama were fruit jars. It was too late for most stuff to can, but I canned 100 quarts of tomatoes. Daddy and Vernon went to an apple orchard and bought twelve bushels of apples on Sunday. Monday morning the men went to work and Janie Mae and her kids came down. The boys, Bobby, Hoyt, and Bill kept the wood stove hot. Virginia and Betty got the jars ready. Dot watched all the babies. Me and Janie Mae peeled and canned and made jelly out of that 12 bushels of apples in one day! The summer of 1947 I canned 3000 quarts of fruits and vegetables.
We lived in that old house in 1946 and 1947. Bill started to school while we lived there. Daddy decided that he would rent a building and open a garage. There were still no new cars, and the old ones that had been on blocks for three years had to have repairs before they could be driven or sold. But before he rented the garage he was already working for himself: buying old cars, fixing them up, and selling them. There were still no new parts and no new tires.
One day after the five older kids left for school, Daddy said he was going to Gadsden, which is about a forty-five minute drive now. He was going to get parts and would be back by the time the kids got home at four o’clock, so why didn’t me and John and Pat (the babies) go with him.
We drove our car which was in pretty good shape and had four new tires: Where he got them, I don’t know. We left the house at nine o’clock and had gone about thirty miles when the fuel pump quit. Luckily, we were near a place where we could get a repair kit. Daddy repaired the fuel pump, but before we got to Gadsden it was cutting out again.
|John Richard and
Patricia Ann (Patsy, Pat)
In Gadsden, Daddy picked up the parts he had gone for and bought another fuel pump repair kit and fixed it again. It did O.K. until we started up Sand Mountain (where we lived). By now it was nine o’clock at night and we were worried about the kids. Their grandma lived next door, but they would have died before they would go there.
That car would not go up that mountain! Finally Daddy turned the car around so the gas would run into the fuel pump and we backed up the mountain. At the top of the mountain we turned around and went on home: the fuel pump worked O.K. on level ground.
Daddy worked on cars in our yard and had a stupid boy helping him who didn’t come half the time. One day Daddy had put new rings in a car and it wouldn’t start. The kids were getting ready for school and I wasn’t dressed yet, but he’d already been out trying to start the car. His helper hadn’t shown up and he came in and said to me, “If you were worth a damn, you’d drive that car and help me get it cranked.”
I could drive ‘some’ and the way he had asked made me so mad that I said, “O.K. come on. I’ll drive the damned thing.”
As soon as he gave me a shove with the other car, mine cranked. But I was so mad by then that I thought, “I’ll show him! I’ll drive this thing to Chattanooga.” We passed his dad’s driveway with Daddy blowing the horn and yelling at me. The narrow dirt road wasn’t hardly wide enough to meet someone.
Carrie, Billie, Pat, Dot
Hoyt, Mickey, Bill, Jerry
John in front
Suddenly, in front of me was a man with two mules. His barn was on one side of the road and his house on the other. I dodged to keep from hitting the mules and hit the ditch. Then in front of me was about a dozen county trucks filled with gravel. I tried to get out of the ditch, hit the ditch on the other side of the road and turned up-side down.
Daddy stopped and got out of his car. He was white and shaking. I was still too mad to be scared. I said, “Do you want me to drive back to the house?”
He said, “Hell, No!” He cranked the car later in the day and the next day he had another one ready to crank. I asked, “Do you want me to help?”
He said, “Yes. But this time I’m going to pull you and if you hit me I’ll break your neck.” The car cranked right away. I blew the horn and he stopped and got out and came back.
I got out and said to him, “Now you get back to the house with both cars, and don’t you ever ask me to help you with a car again.”
When we lived in the old house by Grandma Frasier’s, Vernon didn’t have a car. We generally had four or five, since Daddy was in the car business. Every Saturday night, Vernon, Janie Mae, their five kids, our seven kids, me and Daddy went to the movie in Fort Payne. The movie cost a dime for kids from ages six through fourteen and twenty cents for adults. Of-course, there were no cokes or popcorn because there was still no paper goods, like cups for drinks or bags for popcorn. The movie would be the main feature (no color yet for fifteen years); a comedy, such as “Our Gang”; a cartoon or maybe two; a continued story; and a news reel with about five news items. After the show we all stopped for ice cream. Imagine an evening’s entertainment including ice cream for sixteen people for less than $2.00.
Later—on Lookout Mountain in the 1950’s—you could take a car load to the drive-in for $1.00. We had a big truck and would take four or five families and get in for $1.00. Popcorn was ten cents—still no cokes except in bottles.
We never missed a circus. If there was a circus close enough to go to, we went. Once the circus was coming to Fort Payne and Vernon’s kids had never seen a circus. Daddy talked Vernon into going and taking Janie Mae and the kids. Daddy told Vernon that $10.00 would be plenty of money to take. Vernon had six kids and we had eight kids.
By the time we got to the circus, Vernon and his family were already there and Janie Mae and the kids were just standing around. There was a shell game set up out front. There were three shells and a pea under one shell. It cost fifty cents to guess which shell the pea was under. Vernon had gotten that far and by the time we got there he had only one dollar left. They didn’t get to see the circus. I wonder if they ever did get to see one?
Everybody kept telling us that we should buy a farm and raise food for the kids. At the end of summer in 1947 we rented a farm and moved to a big old two story house. Daddy had the garage then (didn’t make much money) and helped the kids farm. Margaret Elizabeth was born in that house August 9, 1948. Dr. Haggard delivered her. The fee was $100.00.
In the fall of 1947 Lillian wrote from Estel Springs, Tennessee and wanted us to come on Friday and stay until Sunday. All her eight kids were home, we had seven, Evelyn had Rusty— she was a widow now, Elizabeth, Nora and Dora were there. That made sixteen kids and nine adults. Of course some of her kids were adults and some of her’s and mine were teen-agers. Where did we sleep? What did we eat? I remember all the girls and women decided to go swimming. None had swim suits but everybody found something to swim in except me. Lillian said, “You can swim in Riley’s overalls.” They got them half way on me and I got stuck. Finally they got them off me and they went swimming. I’m sure that Elizabeth, Dora, and Nora were hoping that some cute young men would come by.