The Story of my Life
Louise Virginia (Weir) Frasier
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hen we moved to Lookout Mountain, instead of fixing up the old house, we built a chicken house—of-course! Talk about eggs! We had wash-tubs full. They were selling for about twenty cents a dozen. This was in 1951. Daddy was gone with the car. Virginia said, “Hoyt, let’s take some eggs to the store in the wagon.”
They put newspapers and a quilt in the bottom of the tubs and put the eggs in. The kids had a pet mule named Billy. Sometimes he was just like a kitten and sometimes he didn’t have a lick of sense. Anyway, they hitched Billy and the other mule, Kate, to the wagon. They started off pretty smooth. Then Billy decided he didn’t like to pull a wagon with Kate. So across the fields he went! Eggs flying everywhere! They came back with two tubs of scrambled eggs.
(That's the house on Lookout Mountain)
Then about a week later Virginia said, “If we don’t make Billy work with Kate he’ll be fine.” So they got a slide (a sled with runners) and hitched Billy to it and put the two tubs of eggs on. They did fine this time until they got to the river and Billy refused to go across the bridge. Then off he goes again with eggs flying everywhere again!
I wonder why we’re not all dead from high cholesterol with all those eggs, vegetables boiled with fat back or lard as seasoning, all that good old home churned butter, all that white flour biscuits and corn bread. And all the ½% whole milk. That ½% was half heavy cream! All that fried chicken, all that chicken and dumplings and chicken and dressing. And especially those wonderful cakes I used to make.
Did I ever make a cake that came out of the pan whole so it could be frosted? Or did I ever make frosting that got thick enough to put on a cake? Or were they ALL pudding cakes. Just put the cake in a big bowl and pour the frosting in on top of it and eat it with a spoon or fork. I’m sure the reason Daddy and the kids didn’t like fruit pies was because I couldn’t make one. I was and still am a very bad pastry maker. My hand’s too heavy! Guess that’s the reason Daddy said, “Why waste fresh fruit by cooking it and putting it in a crust?”
|From the Top: Bill, Hoyt, Roy
Mickey, Jerry, John
H.N., Louise, Lillian with Martha, Riley
Margie with Spot, Patsy with Evelyn
(This must have been about 1955 - We always loved visits from Lillian and Riley)
When vegetable oils and Oleo came on the market, only the very poorest people used it to cook with or used it as a butter substitute. I wonder if they lived longer than us? For the (so called) ‘class’ that we belonged to wouldn’t have been caught dead buying or using Oleo or vegetable oil. Pure lard and fresh churned butter were the fats that we always used. Pastries were flakier and biscuits were lighter. Lard was used for seasoning vegetables and for frying. I know for a fact that if you fry chicken correctly it will be better if you fry it in lard.
We finally got electricity and in 1952 we got our first refrigerator, electric stove, and a wringer washing machine!
That farm on Lookout Mountain wouldn’t grow anything and besides Daddy was no farmer so he left and went to work as a carpenter in Illinois or where ever he could find work. He had faithfully paid his union dues all those years—even when he was in the Navy. Finally in 1952 he went to work in Aiken, South Carolina on the atomic bomb plant just across the state line from Augusta, Georgia. Virginia finished high school and went to Augusta and worked as a file clerk for the engineering section at the bomb plant. Daddy and Virginia rented a one bed room trailer from a company which had 4800 trailers set up to handle the population explosion of the area.
|Evelyn and Martha
on the door steps
– and Spot
After two weeks, Daddy came home for the week-end and took me, John, Pat, and Margie back to Augusta to visit. We left Dot, Carrie, Hoyt, and Bill there to take care of 500 hens, a sow with 14 pigs, two cows, and two mules. After two weeks we rented the trailer next to the one we already had and went to Alabama to get the other kids. We turned the hens out, and carried the hogs, cows, and mules to Grandpa’s on Sand Mountain.
August 16, 1952 Mary Evelyn was born in the hospital in Augusta. Dr. Johnson delivered her. Now we had nine kids and lived in two one-bedroom trailers. But at least we had two bathrooms and two refrigerators!
Dot graduated from Richmond Academy in Augusta in December 1952. She married Roy McGee, a soldier stationed at Camp Gordon, Georgia, in January 1953. Virginia married Charles Platt, an engineer for DuPont, in April of 1953.
When school started that year I went back to the farm in Alabama. I said that me and the boys were going to farm. Hoyt said, “If you do that you’ll have to go and get a job to pay for it for I’m not going to.”
Martha Frances was born December 31, 1953 in the hospital in Fort Payne. No Doctors made house calls anymore. And now we had the ten kids—two short of the dozen!
Carrie graduated from high school in May 1954 and joined the Air Force in July.
We had a 1947 Plymouth car. Then we bought a Mercury in 1953. We bought our first T.V. in May of 1955. We were still on the farm on the mountain, but H.N. was working in Atlanta all the time now—a long drive home for the week-end.
Hoyt graduated from high school in May 1956 and joined the Air Force.
Margie in front, and Louise
We sold the farm, finally, for $3500.00 (still no house!) and moved to Atlanta to an apartment. After a few months, we moved to another apartment in another part of town. Bill joined the Navy in 1956 while we lived here. He went to Alabama and Grandpa Frasier took him to the recruiting office and signed for him for he was only sixteen.
In April of 1957 Daddy left Atlanta in a 1955 Mercury car with $35.00 to go to Grants, New Mexico where the union boss had told him that they were hiring millwrights. Charlie and Virginia lived there already. Grants was the uranium capital of the world. Uranium was needed for the A Bomb. There were no places to live in Grants. It was just a small village. Everyone was having to buy trailers.
The pay was good, but me and the girls and John were still in Atlanta. Then Hoyt was sent to the Phillipines, but was given leave to come home first. He had bought a 1957 Chevrolet and he drove us to Grants on his way to the West Coast. There was me, Hoyt, John, Pat, Margie, Evelyn, and Martha and we pulled a fifteen foot trailer behind. When we left Atlanta we had Dot, Tim, and Steve with us. They had ridden the bus to Atlanta to visit us. We took them to Memphis, Tennessee, rested there for a few hours, and just at twelve o’clock midnight we crossed the Mississippi going West.
And to tell the truth, I had no idea where Albuquerque, New Mexico was. It seemed like a foreign land. There was only one motel room available in Grants Sunday night when we got there. Hoyt and John slept on the ground in Virginia’s back yard (They were gone that week-end). Hoyt planned to leave his car with us so we could trade the mercury in as a down payment on a mobile home. It was a M-System, 10 feet wide by 55 feet long. It had three bed-rooms and one bath.
|Margie with Martha, Patsy with Evelyn, and John in the background|
On Monday the trailer was delivered and we lived in Grants until September. Then we moved to the Suburban Mobile Home Park in Albuquerque. Work was spotty. We bought a half acre lot in Corrales and moved onto it in May 1958. Bill got discharged from the Navy. Hoyt got discharged from the Air Force. There was no work!! What work there was was out of town.
In 1959 while we lived in Corrales, I had another psysic experience. Bill lived at home and one Friday he came home from work and said that he was going to have new tires put on his car. He didn’t come home and we didn’t have a telephone so he couldn’t call. About one o’clock at night I heard a car drive up and stop. I heard the door slam, but Bill didn’t come in so I got up and looked out the window. There was no car but Bill said, “Mama, I’m not out there. I’m in this stinking jail. Will you tell Daddy to come and get me in the morning?” I didn’t wake Daddy up but the next morning he said, “I wonder where Bill is?” I told him that Bill was in jail, and we went and got him. He had been booked at one o’clock that night.
In December of 1959 Daddy went to work at Roswell, New Mexico on missile silos. Hoyt and Bill were in Tennessee and Alabama. Then John joined the Marines in December 1959 before he finished high school. We moved the trailer to Roswell but kept the electricity on at our lot in Corrales so the neighbors could run water to keep the well from going dry and to protect the pump.
While we lived in Roswell I had a horrifying experience! Have you ever stepped through the looking glass? Yes, I would bet that all of you have done so. But, fortunately, we are almost always able to return almost immediately. But while we lived in Roswell, I was on the other side for almost forty-eight hours. Talk about being scared and lost! It was terrible!
|Bill, Jerry, Hoyt, John, Pat Watkins|
The wind had been blowing at about fifty to sixty miles an hour. Daddy, the girls, and I went shopping in down town Roswell. We went to several stores and I was fine. Then we went into the grocery store and when we came out I was lost. I saw everything backwards. We were on the wrong side of the street. I said, “Oh, no! There is something wrong with me!”
We talked about it and went home. The trailer was on the wrong side of the street. The door opened backwards. We stepped in and the stove and refrigerator—everything—was in the wrong place. It was so bad that I couldn’t put the groceries away. Daddy said, “Lay down a while and see if you’ll get better.” But, how can you lay on a bed that’s backwards?
After a couple of hours, Daddy said, “Let’s get in the car and go exactly like we did before and see if that helps.” The wind had stopped blowing. We did exactly like we had done before, but nothing changed. I couldn’t sleep. Sunday we went the round again and nothing changed. Monday, when Daddy came from work, the wind was blowing again. We went down town and into all the places again. “Oh, my God!” When we came out of the grocery store, everything was back in place.
If you’ve ever experienced anything like that for even a minute, you might be able to understand what happened to Grandma Stone, Daddy’s grandmother, when she was seventy-four years old. One spring day she went into the woods to look at the spring flowers. She had been doing the same thing for sixty years.
When she came out of the woods a couple of hours later, she was lost. The house, barn, smoke-house, trees, and everything were there but they were reversed! She lived alone and she coped the best she could, but finally, she had to call her daughter. Her daughter stayed with her for ten years.
Grandma Stone was never able to get back through the looking glass. Why? How? I don’t know. All I know is both of these instances are true. Grandma Stone was unable to function at all the last four years she lived. Her mind was OK but sort of confused. But she could still tell you about going into the woods, seeing the flowers, and hearing the birds—but the minute she stepped out into the sun, her whole world was back-wards.