Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's a Very Small World!

In the summer of 1964, we moved to a little base in Michigan, 30 miles from Traverse City, in the little town of Empire.  There were only nine houses for the military families, located on top of a hill, and the base itself contained very few buildings but several big communication balloons. Our house overlooked a cherry tree orchard and you could see Lake Michigan off in the distance. I remember in the winter when it snowed, it would drift terribly. We had these fences that were supposed to help with the drifts but it drifted none the less.  Many times up to or above the windows. We lived in Alaska two different times but I never remember being as cold as I was in Michigan.

I went to first grade in the white building in the background.
I went to first grade there, in Empire, and was bussed over to Glen Arbor, about 8 miles away, for second grade. I started learning to read in Michigan and can remember standing in front of the class and reading stories out loud. I knew just enough words to think that Kevin and I were in big trouble when we pulled the tag off the pillow in the living room, "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law," etc.  We thought we were going to jail for sure. Needless to say, we didn’t get in trouble and now looking back, it's pretty funny but at the time, it was very scary for two little kids. We also broke the floor to ceiling lamp, that mom had just told us to be careful around. We got in big trouble for that.  We found lots of things to get into.

While I was in school in Michigan, I learned the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It was quite an accomplishment, even though it was just the first verse.  Another one of the things we did at the schools there, that I don't remember in other places, was buying milk, getting a stamp for each one we bought, putting it in a book and when the book was full, we would get a savings bond.  

Todd John Hatch, born in Traverse City, Michigan
on August 16, 1964
My other little brother, Todd John, was born right after we moved to Michigan. He was born in Traverse City. Kevin and I thought he was like a doll…at least until I dropped him one time, when I was holding him, and saw the panic in mom’s eyes, and heard all his screaming. We approached him gently from then on. 

Very close to where we lived were these gigantic sand dunes, Sleeping Bear Dunes. We would go there on occasion and climb up and roll down those big mounds of sand. I remember it was so much fun. We would also go to Lake Michigan and collect Petoskey stones, a unique stone that we found there along the shore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes
I remember one time we were making plans to go to the lake and I mentioned it to the little boy down the street. He saw it as an invitation and showed up at the door with his little beach bag, ready to go. My parents were furious that I would invite him to go and no matter how much I said I didn’t invite him, that he invited himself, they got madder. So they packed up the car, told me there wasn’t room for me, since the neighbor boy was going, and off they went, leaving me behind. I was so upset that they would go off and leave me. Of course, they went down the block and came back and got me right away, but I learned a valuable lesson about keeping my little mouth shut when appropriate. I was quite the talker at that age (what a surprise). So much so, that I was nicknamed Louella Parsons. I would go from house to house, hear what was happening and then share it with everybody. I thought I was doing them a service. I got no respect!

My best friend in Empire was a girl named Mickey McCullough (standing next to my mom in the pic below). We got into a fight one time and she bit me on the stomach and left her teeth marks. Moments later we were great friends again. I’ll never forget the time my mother was drying the laundry in Mickey’s mom’s dryer and one of us kids had left a crayon in our pocket. The crayon melted all over the other laundry. I think my mother was ready to cry over that one.

Our friends on the hill. 
Michigan was the first place I saw a live snake. There was one right by the front door of the house, right after we moved in. My dad killed it with a hoe, I think. My hero! This was the first place I ever saw hail, too, that I can remember.

I went back, sometime in the 2009 time frame, to see the base we lived on and the school I went to. Things have changed a lot and I was having trouble finding the housing area. We stopped downtown and asked a man if he could lead us in the right direction.  I told him my father had been stationed there and I wanted to show my husband, John, and our friends the Sterns, where I had lived. He gave us directions and then asked what my dad’s name was and when he was there. You should have seen the look of surprise, when I told him. He knew him and said that my father had gone through a lot to find and make contact with him when his wife went into labor, as he was TDY somewhere. He also shared that he was now the Mayor of the big town of Empire, population 300+ people. Small world!

This is the house we lived in, as it looked when we revisited it many years later.
As you can see, Lake Michigan is in the background.

We also went out to the dunes, to relive those memories, and when we got there, I was so surprised! I remembered them so differently. They seemed so much bigger then.  I remembered that if you walked for awhile you could see the lake, so I convinced John and the Sterns to start the trek to see it.  I thought they were going to kill me. By the time we got to the first rise, they were tired and I realized quickly that I was not going to get them to walk all the way to the lake. It turned out that it was much further than I remembered, so we didn’t make it. But we had a great time, just the same. It was fun returning to Empire and all the great memories of our time spent there.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  I don't think I can share anything better than this adorable picture of our granddaughters Hannah Dawn and Joleyna MaeEllen, taken this week.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Day the Earth Moved, March 27, 1964

I was five now and I knew that meant that I would be starting school soon. I had heard lots of talk about it and was very excited to begin. By this time we had moved onto Elmendorf AFB, on Apricot Street, and registration took place two weeks before school was actually going to start. My mother took me with her to registration and I thought I was going to get to start that day. Needless to say, I was so mad when I found out that I would have to wait two more weeks, that I threw a little temper tantrum in the parking lot.  My poor mother and the things I put her through!

The type of house we lived in is in the background, and
our car is behind us.
I can still vividly remember that first day when I did start kindergarten. Even though I was excited to go, I was too young at the time to realize just how hard it would be on my mom, to send her first born off to school.  She walked me down to the bus stop and waited until the bus picked me up and cried as she watched it drive away. It was a milestone in her little girl’s life. Things would never be the same.

Elmendorf was building a new elementary school just as I started kindergarten. Unfortunately, it was not done in time to begin the school year. So, the base scrambled to find places to put the students until it was completed. My class ended up in an old office building. We continued at that location through the end of December. I can remember dancing around a Christmas tree there, singing Old Tannenbaum! When the new-year started we were able to move into our brand new school. I loved that classroom. We had our own little cubbies and a cloak room. It was a great school…Mt. Iliamna Elementary. We moved right after my kindergarten year, so I only went to the new school for those five short months. Little did I know that in later years, I would once again have some classes in the same school. I am not sure it is even being used as a school today, but it is still there.

As I write this, I realize that today marks the 51st Anniversary of the catastrophic Alaskan earthquake.  We were there on that Good Friday, March 27, 1964, and experienced an event that would be forever engraved on our minds. The quake was measured as a 9.2 on the Richter scale. I remember my brother and I were in the living room with my dad, and we were watching the Mickey Mouse Club on TV. My mother was cooking dinner. As the rumbling began at 5:36 p.m., I had no idea what was happening. I remember watching my mother trying to maneuver her way to the picture mirror that was over our brand new stereo, to keep it from crashing down.

In the meantime, whatever she was cooking on the stove was a giant concern too, and my father went in to turn off the burners. Things were crashing out of the cabinets and the noise was deafening and unforgettable. The shaking was so hard; it sloshed the water right out of the toilet. We had some breakage but my family was not hurt. The quake shook for four minutes.  Over 125 people died and many people lost their homes. Some homes were totally swallowed up by the large crevasses that opened up.  Downtown Anchorage was decimated.  Streets sank, buildings tilted, businesses were torn apart. There was a brand new JC Penney building that had multiple stories and it was totally destroyed.  There were clothes hanging out the sides and large sheets of the siding came down on top of cars sitting on the streets.

Fourth Avenue in Downtown Anchorage
Tidal waves (Tsunamis) destroyed a lot of coastal towns. There has never been another earthquake, in North America, as powerful as the one we experienced that Good Friday. For days there were lots of tremors.  With each one, we would all panic that it was starting all over again. Thank goodness we did not experience another one while we were there.

There were lots more memories from our first time in Alaska. Some right off the top of my head are: Standing in a long line for the polio vaccine; skating in what seemed like nighttime but it was just the darkness of winter; running out in the middle of the night to see the aurora borealis or northern lights; my parents helping to start a new church; bugging the Romper Room lady that went to our church and trying to get her to look through her magic mirror and see me at home and say my name; and watching television, the night John F. Kennedy was assassinated, just to name a few.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  If you would like to see a video about the 1964 earthquake, that explains why it happened and shows pictures of the event, click here to watch, "1964 Quake: The Great Alaska Earthquake", courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.   The USGS website home page has lots of interesting info, too, and can be found here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Land of the Midnight Sun

There are so many memories of Alaska that it would be very hard to put them all into a blog. We were very fortunate to be stationed at Elmendorf AFB twice, and lots of memories were built both times. The first tour was from 1960-1964, so in today's blog I will share some of those highlights.

When we first moved up to Alaska, we lived in a trailer park in Muldoon, just outside the Anchorage city limits. This was a grand time in the lives of my brother and I. We learned all those fun winter activities, such as ice skating, sledding, building snowmen, igloos and forts. It really was a child’s winter wonderland. 

It was a very cold place to live in the winter, and required some actions that weren’t necessary at many of our other bases, such as plugging in your car at night to make sure it would start the next day. And something that was done a lot… shoveling, shoveling, and more shoveling. But it was also a place where you could make your own ice rink in the back yard and see the awesome Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  During the winter months, darkness sets in and stays for the better part of the day.  It is very weird.  It feels like you are wandering around at dusk but all day long.  Then the opposite happens in the summer where you have daylight for long periods of time.  In June, the sun could still be up close to midnight. Because of the long hours of sun, flowers, vegetables and other things that grow in the summer, tend to get very large.  Our friends grew some zucchini one year that were like a foot and a half long.  They made lots of zucchini bread.

The Muldoon trailer park we lived in was Rangeview Trailer Park. It had a little stream that ran behind it. I can remember my parents warning us about the dangers of getting too close, falling in, going under the ice, and freezing from the cold water. Did we listen? Of course not, and one day we were down by the stream when my brother Kevin, fell in. Talk about a scary moment. I just knew that everything that mom and dad had told us was about to come true. However, he was pulled out and although cold and scared, was okay. I’m sure our parents were fit to be tied. Kind of like the time my mother looked out the front window and saw the two of us running across the roof of the neighbor’s trailer. 

Me in front of our Rangeview Trailer Park home
Oh it didn't stop there. The icing on the cake came the day that we went to run errands on the base with my mother.  It was at the time that people were getting off work. Traffic was usually quite heavy at this time, with everyone ready to get home. Mom stopped to fill up the car with gas and went in to pay for it. Famous last words, she told us to not get into the front seat while she was gone. That was the time when cars would go into gear without the brake being set. So, the minute mom was out of sight, my brother jumps into the front seat and hits the gearshift. We are now rolling into the road cutting off traffic at the stoplight. Mom came out and there was no car! Then turning around, she saw the car and figured out what had happened. She came running over, not sure what she would see but found us with no harm or injuries.  She said that when she came up to the car, there stood Kevin, at the wheel, with a big, proud smile on his face.  We had rolled right into a huge snowbank, cushioning our stop.  She was so furious, yet so relieved that we were okay. We had fun and lots of adventures while growing up.  

We eventually moved onto Elmendorf AFB and lived in an apartment type building on Apricot Street. Little did we know that our next time there, we would live on the same street, just at the opposite end.

Do you remember the show Mannix?  I don't remember it well, except maybe what I saw in reruns. Sometime while we were there, Mike Connors came up to Alaska and we were able to see him. Mom got dad to take a picture of her standing behind him.  Look at the smile on her face.  She was thrilled to see him in person.  

Mike Connors from the show Mannix
with mom and Kevin in the background.
My parents were very outdoorsy and loved to camp and fish. My brother and I were out camping with them from a very early age. We started out sleeping in tents and slowly moved up to a tiny little trailer just big enough for one person to turn around. But we thought it was heaven after sleeping in the tent. Mom and dad told us one time that they tied a rope around several trees and put us inside the rope and told us to stay and silly us…we did. During our four-year stay at Elmendorf, we made many trips to the woods. 

Me, Mom, Kevin and our little camping trailer

While at Elmendorf, we participated in our dear friends, Jim and Sandy Paxton’s, wedding. It was a real family affair. I was the flower girl. Kevin was the ring bearer and mom and dad stood up with them. We would later be stationed with them again in Alaska, and I would babysit their boys. To this day we are still great friends with these folks.  They have become part of the family. That happens a lot in the military. Those you are stationed with become like family. Many times, you are too far from your hometown and can’t get back often, especially from places like Alaska, so the people you are stationed with help you celebrate your holidays, birthdays, new babies, etc.  They become lifelong friends!

The Paxton's Wedding
Today's Terri's Tibit:  We became grandparents again last night at 6:57 pm, when our newest granddaughter was born.  Joleyna MaeEllen was 8 lbs 1 oz and 19 3/4 inches long.  She is an absolutely beautiful baby and all are doing well!  Congrats Stephanie (my daughter), Bobby and big sister Hannah! We love you!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Honeymoon High Jinks

Clara Jean Garrison became Mrs. James V. Hatch on September 14, 1956, in the Minister’s Parsonage of Culdee Presbyterian Church. She wore a beautiful dress, hat and white gloves and Dad was decked out in a very sharp looking suit. Both sets of parents were in attendance along with numerous other family members. After the wedding, they set out for their honeymoon to the mountains in western North Carolina, ready to start their life together.
Wedding Day, September 1956 

After they had left, Clara Jean’s brother Fred realized he had their luggage in his car. He realized it too late, however, to catch the happy couple, as they were already way down the road. He was in a state of panic that the newlyweds would not have the stuff they needed for their trip. He tried everything to get the bags to my parents, even contacting the local law enforcement, but to no avail. No worries though. Dad said it was not a problem because they had all they really needed for their honeymoon.

They toured the mountains, a Cherokee Indian Reservation and went to visit one of Clara Jean’s sisters, during their time away. Knowing that dad would have to leave when they got home, probably made the trip seem shorter than ever.

Several days into the honeymoon they were driving along and there was this horrible odor emanating throughout the car. They had noticed it a little along the way but now it had gotten much more pungent. Dad is looking at mom and mom is looking at dad, wondering what or who was making the smell. Awkward! They finally figured it out that it wasn’t either of them, so they pulled off the road and went through the car and discovered an open can of sardines under the rug, beneath one of the seats. One of their relatives or friends had placed it there as a joke. It took a while to get the odor out but the thought of it made them laugh whenever it came up, even years later.

After they returned home, dad headed to South Dakota and mom stayed in North Carolina to finish school. At Christmas of that year, she headed up to join him in the frigid Rapid City weather. They began their life together a long way from North Carolina, a long way from home, a long way from family. 

A little over a year later, the first of their three children arrived in this world. Me! My mom had a very hard pregnancy. She was sick for many months and lost a lot of weight, which she couldn't afford to lose. I was born on January 6, 1958 at St. John’s Hospital, there in Rapid City. Years later, the hospital was converted into apartments. Our family went through Rapid City when I was 16 to see the town, Mount Rushmore and the hospital I was born in.

I asked my dad about the day I was born and he said, “We did not live far from the hospital. We had made several dry runs to time it, see how long it took, etc. The night your mom's water broke, we got up, got dressed, got her bag, got in the car and drove right past the hospital…we laughed about that for years. In those days you could not go in the room for delivery… I got word of your birth then took off to see you.”

Me standing in front of the hospital I was born in.
Our little family lived in an apartment, which used to be part of a local motel. It sat on the outskirts of town, on the road to the airport. It is still there today. I have pictures from back then with my mom and I, and outside of the change in color, it looks very much the same.

I don’t remember anything about our stay in South Dakota because I was still very little and we weren’t there long after I was born. As was typical of Air Force families at that time, we were off to a new base long before we had the chance to put down too many roots. However, I do know that while there, Rev. Rew Walz baptized me at First Presbyterian Church. Right after I was born he typed me a note and placed it inside a tiny white bible that he gave me. I still have both to this day.

It wasn’t long and we moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina. My dad was transferred to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and on April 15, 1959, my brother Kevin came into this world. We are 15 months apart in age. He was my best friend and what one didn’t think of, the other did. We had many exciting adventures as kids, much to my parent’s chagrin. I’ll share more on our escapades later. 

This was a great place to go after being all the way out in South Dakota. Mom and dad were close to home again. Our house was on Luftberry Drive and when I went looking for that address on Google Earth, it looks like the houses of that time have been torn down and new ones constructed. The house was a Capehart home, which was typical military housing on several of the bases we lived on. If any of them are still standing, they are very old.

Kevin, too, knew little of his birthplace, as we were off to Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska, long before he was able to remember Goldsboro. Moving to Alaska would once again take us a long way from Pinehurst/Southern Pines, North Carolina and to another very cold climate! Would we like it?

Terri's Tidbit for Today:  I really like my Amazon Prime!  With the Prime membership, you can get free two day shipping (I used an option where you could take a longer delivery time, still free, and got a $1.00 credit towards a book), you get great music you can listen to, you can watch lots of instant videos and I learned today that if you buy something from Amazon and they drop the price within a week, you can contact them and depending on what you bought, they may credit you the difference.  Because I have family all over the US, I really benefit from the free shipping but I love all the other features too.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

There's Something About a Man in Uniform

The Hatch family has been a military family for many generations. Over the years, we had heard some talk of having ancestors who had fought both in the American Revolution and the Civil War. I decided to start looking for the allusive family member who was the American Revolutionist. After much genealogical research, I discovered that my fourth great grandfather, Alexander Hatch, had served in that war and through him, I was eligible to be a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR). 

I applied last fall, was accepted and was inducted into the George W. Kendall Chapter in Boerne, in February. Now I will have to begin my search for the ancestor who fought in the Civil War.

My dad’s uncles served in World War II and his Uncle Lawton was a Prisoner of War in Stalag 9B in Bad Orb, Germany, about 30 miles from Frankfurt. After he was captured, he and the rest of his group were forced to march for two days, moving towards their place of imprisonment. During that time, they were only given a little piece of hardtack to eat. They ate snow to stay hydrated. 

They continued to the next point, where they were put in a boxcar for a four-day ride. Sixty men were crammed into the car, which comfortably fit only 25. At one point they were in the rail yards and the RAF came over and bombed the area. They were locked into the car and basically, left to die.

He ended up at Stalag 9B. This particular camp was known as one of the worst Prisoner of War Camps that held American POW’s. It also held Italians, French, Serbians and Russians. Uncle Lawton said the conditions were horrible. There were windows but many of them did not have glass, and there was no heat. The food was the worst and he lost 30 pounds while in confinement.

During this time, he and the others heard very little about what was going on with the war. But eventually, some British soldiers came to the camp. They had some way of finding out information, so they kept the troops up to date on what was happening. They were eventually liberated, but Uncle Lawton wasn’t clear on the details of how all that happened. He came home, spent a few days processing out and then was allowed to go home to his family. An experience he would never forget.

My Grandpa Hatch wanted to serve in the military, but for health reasons he was not able to. So he did the next best thing. He became a Civil Service Fireman at Pope Field, which made him feel he was part of something important. He was also a volunteer fireman, for years, in Southern Pines, North Carolina.

My dad, James Vernon Hatch, was career Air Force but if he had not been pressured by a buddy, I wonder if he would have joined at all. In another one of those “things I never knew” scenarios, I asked my father why he decided to go into the Air Force. He said his buddy Harold, now deceased, kept bugging him to go join and he kept telling him no. At the time he said he was happy working at the local Modern Market, living at home, and dating, but his friend kept insisting. So in order to appease him, he went with him to the Post Office, met with the recruiter, and took the entrance exam. They were told they had made perfect scores. (Dad said “Yeah, right!”)

Anyway, the recruiter said there was a waiting list to get in, so he told the boys to go on about their lives and he would call when it was time to go to Raleigh for the physical and induction. Dad said he was still not going but Harold kept prodding. They got the call several weeks later, got on the train and went to Raleigh. Dad said they took the “ridiculous” short physical (Can you hear me? Yes?…Good, you’re alive. Welcome!). They ended up in a room with a bunch of other folks and he held his ground that he was still not going, when in comes an officer. “Please raise your right hand and repeat after me…etc. etc. ….so help me God. Congratulations, please go through that door and a bus will take you to the airport for Texas.” Hey, wait a minute! Texas? Dad said he didn’t have any clothes except what he had on, hardly any money and kept asking Harold, “What have you gotten us into?” 

Dad, early Air Force picture 
At this point, he had to call his mother and tell her what had just happened because she had no idea that he was joining the Air Force. By the looks of things, I don’t think dad had any idea either. But off they go to do their basic training in San Antonio and 21.5 years later he retired, having had a great military career. He was in communications, which took him all over the world. He received numerous awards, including: First Sergeant of the 2008th Communications Squadron and Airman of the Month for both the 740th AC&W Squadron and the 26th Air Division.

He retired a Senior Master Sergeant but I am certain he would have gone on to be a Chief had his daughter not made his life miserable around the spring of 1975. You see, the Air Force had decided to close the base where dad was stationed, and move everyone to Scott AFB in Illinois, right as I was to start my senior year in high school. So I threw a bloody fit. Dad had already served the amount of time required to retire, so he put in his papers to do just that, before the move to Illinois had to be made. As it turned out, the Air Force decided to wait another year before closing the base and told dad he could stay in for that time and then he would have to retire. So in 1976, he officially retired, out of Richards Gebaur AFB, in Kansas City, Missouri.

The things you do for your children! I know I have not said it enough...thank you dad! Not only for your service to our country but for being my dad! You are my hero, in oh so many ways!

Today's Terri's Tidbit: There is an app you can download that can help you raise funds for your favorite school. It is called Shoparoo. You simply download it, choose your school, take a picture of your receipts from a grocery retailer and points will be given that will earn them money. Receipts from stores other than a grocery retailer are entered into a monthly drawing for $1,000 that goes to a randomly selected, registered school. Lots of parents, grandparents and friends are taking advantage of this easy way to raise funds. Check it out here and start helping your favorite school now!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Southern Pines Teen Shot in Hunting Mishap

Jimmy Hatch was the class clown.  For anyone that has known my dad over the years, I suspect that doesn’t come as a surprise. He has always had a great sense of humor and has never known a stranger. He had lots of great friends growing up.  Even after all these years, he still tries to keep in touch with several of the really close ones. 

James Vernon Hatch
One of his friends from school, went on to be the North Carolina Boy’s Champion Tennis player, in spite of some injuries he suffered in an auto accident. Another friend opened a coffee shop in Washington DC.  It was one of the early beatnik hangouts that became famous.   He knew Penny Fuller, although she was younger, who went on to become an actress and another classmate became a famous artist.  
His graduating class had 33 people. Sadly, only a small portion of them are still here today.

When my dad was a kid he hung out with his cousin David Johnson. They would get together and act out some of the old Western movies, where the Cowboys and Indians would fight each other. One of them would be up in a tree and the other would pretend to shoot him and he would fall out of it, just like the actors did. I always thought that they were lucky to not have killed themselves from the fall.

Dad played JV football until the day he got shot in the leg. What?? No Cowboys and Indians here. He was out at a farm, hunting with a friend, when they got separated. His friend saw some movement through the trees and thought it was a squirrel and fired a shot…right into my dad’s leg. That friend has since passed away but there were never any hard feelings between the two, and their friendship endured to the end.  Dad still has a big ole scar but it has never seemed to bother his gait.

Jimmy took all the required courses in school but his favorites were band and drama. He emceed the Junior/Senior proms, had the lead in the class play, played in the band at school, sang in a trio, and had a little band of his own with friends, called the Downbeats. He loved all these fun things and although he hated to study, he did graduate in 1954. 

Jimmy Hatch is on the second row, second from the left.  

His favorite teacher was Billy Williams, who he had for homeroom, chemistry, and biology.  She was also in charge of the proms. He said she was a great teacher, pushed him along, encouraged him to study (which was not something he wanted to do) but she would also let him get away with murder. He said they used to call her “Bat Cave”, (not to her face however), because she was from Bat Cave, North Carolina. Funny how certain teachers make a long term impact on your life. I have a few of those myself!

One of dad’s favorite memories is of Christmas. His mother would go all out. There would be lots of decorations, carols on the radio, and a bunch of presents. He said that being an only child, they spoiled him rotten. His mom always made fruitcakes during the holidays, too, just like my mom’s mother.

During the war years his mother’s job at the telephone company was considered essential to the war effort. She had to work many nights and weekends, so her time at home was precious. Dad's Grandma Hatch took care of him a lot during those times and he was crazy about her. Even though she would have to get a switch to him once in awhile, he still thought she was a wonderful lady. 

He remembers a time when they lived in Wilson, North Carolina, that they went to the Annual Tobacco Festival. There was a parade during these festivals. This particular year, Ava Gardner and Mickey Rooney were in that parade. Ava was from a town nearby and at the time, her and Mickey were dating. Dad said that his mom, Ola Mae, was beside herself because she was getting to see them. A wonderful memory for both her and my dad. 

Dad’s first job was at the Modern Market, working for Walter Emmett Blue, better known as W.E. He stocked shelves, took out groceries, swept floors, etc. He also worked as an apprentice electrician, at a radio station as a sports announcer, and for the water department cleaning and repairing water meters. He said his favorite job was the radio announcer because “you were somebody". He got a lot of attention from that job. He also wrote the football coverage for the local paper and that got him a lot of added kudos.  He loved his job at the Modern Market, too, and they promised him a raise to $100 a week if he would not go into the Air Force. I don’t think he ever got that raise…

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  Do you use Ebates?  If you order anything online, go to the Ebates site and order through them and a lot of stores will give you a percentage of your total back.  See their website here.  If you have a Tidbit that you think is worthy of sharing, just leave me a comment and I will try to work it into a future blog.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ola Mae, "The Hello Girl"

James Vernon Hatch, my father, was best friends with Jimmy Barber, my mom’s boyfriend, who died on her sixteenth birthday. Dad knew mom before this happened, not only through Jimmy but also through a mutual friend. Dad had dated one of mom’s good friends, Martha, for three years. So it was only natural that he would stop by to give his condolences to my mom, after Jimmy passed away.

Dad was grieving. When the accident happened, Jimmy was away at school and dad was in basic training for the Air Force, in San Antonio. No one wanted to tell him about the accident because they knew how upset he would be. When he got home, he went to see my mom. She knew the pain he was experiencing.

After that, my dad was off to Wyoming for Tech School and they talked on the phone several times. He told me that she wrote him everyday and signed the letters, “Your little sister”. He returned to North Carolina later in 1955 with orders to go to Saudi Arabia and they started dating. They dated almost every night before he left. He got to Saudi and decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with mom. So he bought a ring, sent it to his parent’s house with a note asking her to marry him. His mom and dad, Ola Mae and Plinny Hatch, had mom over for dinner and during the evening, gave her the note and the ring. They got married in September 1956.

Until two weeks ago, I had no idea that this is how my dad proposed. I never thought to ask. I am very blessed to still have dad around and am now taking time to ask him questions about his growing up years. Something I should have done with my mom. He was more than willing to help me out in my quest to find out more about our family. Here are some of the things I learned.

Little Jimmy Hatch was a personable kid. He was an only child and grew up in several different places. He was born in Charlotte, NC on November 13, 1935. The family didn’t live there long before they moved to the town of Wilson, Wilson County, NC, and lived there for about 4 years. They may have lived in Whiteville for a period of time but they eventually moved to Southern Pines and remained there. 

My Dad and his mom, Ola Mae

His mother, Ola Mae Marley was born in Lee County, North Carolina on May 10, 1907 to James Rupert and Bessie Frieda Thomas Marley. She graduated from Goldston High School in 1925. Two years prior to that, her and her sister went to work for a small independent telephone office. Her sister, the only other operator, worked the day shift from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Ola Mae worked the 4 to 9:00 p.m. In an interview for the Sandhill Citizen Newspaper on May 13, 1971, she said, “Our equipment consisted of a one-position switchboard. When you received a call (which wasn’t often) there was a little buzz, and a little lid affair opened and when you answered, this would close. To ring a number, you had to turn a crank.” [1] When I was in college, I worked the switchboard at the dorm I lived in.  When I first started working there, they still had the old PBX system where you plugged in to the different switches and manually rang the phones.  I loved that job and could see why my grandma enjoyed it for so many years.  Thank goodness, though, we have come a long way with our telephones.

In 1927 her parents moved to Sanford so she boarded with a local Goldston family, continuing to work. Later that year, Central Carolina Company bought their office. Ola said, “I was bought along with it and moved to Siler City.” [2]

Her sister moved to Southern Pines, NC and liked it, so she convinced Ola to move there too, in 1930. They were putting the phone systems into Pinehurst and it kept her busy, which she liked. She stayed there until her marriage to Plinny Vernon Hatch on April 23, 1933. They moved several places with Plinny’s job but were in Charlotte in November of 1935, when my dad was born.

They moved back to Southern Pines in 1939 and one of the employees at the telephone company went to Plinny’s job to sound him out as to whether he thought Ola might return to work. She thought about it and decided she could do the job and still not be away from her son too much. In 1945, just six years after starting in that office, she became a supervisor.

She loved her job. She continued to be a Supervisor up until the day she retired in 1971. United Telephone Company of the Carolinas had bought the company, at that point.

The company gave her a great retirement party. She received a beautiful watch, set with diamonds, and lots of gifts from those she worked with. One of the gifts required some of her coworkers to sneak
 into her home and take measurements over her mantel to make sure they got the right size, gold-framed mirror, with matching candle holders. Many of her family were able to come in for the festivities, which was an added treat.
Grandpa and Grandma Hatch at her retirement party.

She had many plans for her retirement. Her and my grandpa had bought a house three years before and she was looking forward to working in the garden and spending time with friends.

Her memories of working for the telephone company inspired her to write a little poem. Here is what she wrote:

The telephone girls in the days of old

Had the number to crank and the mouthpiece to hold.

They’d wade through ice or sleet or snow –

Their job was important, as we all should know.

She worked through tears, she worked through smiles,

She connected voices for many miles.

My Grandma, Ola Mae, was known for her smile. And if you really wanted to see her light up, just be around when her son would walk into the room. The Air Force had kept my family a long way from North Carolina, so every moment that she was able to spend with him was precious to her. She loved her son and said numerous times (even in the newspapers) how proud she was of his service in the military. She always looked forward to having him home.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  If you shop at Walmart, you need to download their Savings Catcher app.  It has the ability to scan your shopping receipt, check local prices to see if something was cheaper elsewhere and if so, they credit you the amount.  Instead of running from store to store to get the best price, it does the work for you and you get money back, if their competitor has a better price.  

[1][2] Nicholson, V. (1971, May 13).  Mrs. Ola Hatch Retires From Telephone Work After Many Years. The Sandhill Citizen, p. 3

Friday, March 6, 2015

Clara Jean's Box of Special Treasures

Being an Air Force wife is not an easy job. You pick up your family and everything in your home and move it, lots! From the time my mom married my dad on September 14, 1956, until she passed away, she moved at least twelve times. Some of those moves may have been in the same town where we moved from an apartment to a house. Her final move was to San Antonio in 1981. Considering that some people never leave their original homes, twelve times in 25 years is a lot of moves. Clara Jean Garrison Hatch knew how to pack. She had the moves down to a fine science. Since we were limited on weight by the movers, it was also a time to purge unwanted/unneeded items.

The first move in my mom’s life was from the hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina to her parent’s home in West End, just a few miles down the road. Mom was born on February 10, 1939. She was one of the first of her family to be born in a hospital. Very early in her life, she was nicknamed “Tukie” and was referred to that even later in life. When she would return home, her family called her Clara Jean or Tukie but the military friends she made with each move, always called her Jean. I wish I had thought to ask why she dropped the Clara.

Being the youngest of 12 and only one of four girls, I suspect her older brothers watched her over, carefully. Many of them were quite a bit older. The first born, Ira Paul, was 25 years older. That is a whole generation difference in age. The next oldest brother, Albert Hamilton Jr., 22 years older, was married and already had a son, Charles, who was born two years before mom. A niece and nephew were actually in the same grade with her, for all their years of school. That would be odd to be in elementary school and have someone call you Aunt Clara Jean. 

Mom's Baby Doll 

Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about mom’s early years, except what I can glean from a box of her “special treasures” that she left behind. Buried inside were so many surprises; many fun things I had never seen before. One was this little doll. She is very old and I have no idea what the story is behind her but she was important enough for mom to keep her for her entire life. I think her little bonnet is original but the dress is handmade. It was probably not the one she had on when mom got her. 

I found a certificate from grade school that declared her as the “School Champion Speller”. She was the winner of the spelling competition in 1951. Also, I know from a picture I found, that as a child she was in a play. I wish I knew what the play was and who else is in this picture with her. I think her niece Arlene is second from the left.

My mom, Clara Jean Garrison, is sixth from the left.

The box also had lots of memorabilia from high school and her early years of marriage. She had numerous newspaper clippings of her friends, classmates, sports events and boyfriends. Mom was very active in high school. She belonged to the Future Homemakers and Beta Clubs. She attended many of the school's athletic events.  I found one of her punch cards for the home football games in 1955.  All the games were punched.

She was on the Pinehurst High School basketball team and from what everyone says, she was a very good player. She loved the sport.  In fact, she received her letter for playing on the team.  (see picture below)  She was always an athlete. Later in life she tried her hand at golf and was hooked right away.  

One of mom’s boyfriends in high school was James A. Barber, Jr. who went to the rival high school in Southern Pines. Jimmy was a very talented athlete, playing both baseball and basketball. After graduating from high school, he went on to State College in Raleigh. On my mom’s sixteenth birthday, Jimmy had just finished one of his sport's practices, fell while taking a shower and was found by classmates a few minutes later. They called for the doctor but he did not survive. As a child, he had a heart condition. That had to be an awful time for his loved ones and friends. Mom rarely talked about this event but she kept many of the obituaries from his death in her treasure box. 

Thank goodness he had a best friend by the name of James “Jimmy” Hatch.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  Some time ago I discovered the website www.retailmenot.com  In fact, I think my brother Kevin told me about it.  Any time I am going to a store or ordering something online, I go to this site to see if they have any coupons or coupon codes I can use.  Many stores are now using retailmenot.com to list their current specials.  I was at the local shopping center the other day and they had banners all around reminding you to check them out before you bought anything in a store.  You can get some great savings.  Click here to see their website. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jigsaw Puzzles and Genealogy

There have been many events in my life that have brought to the forefront just how short life really is. On August 21, 1991 two events happened that changed my life forever. That was the day my mom, Clara Jean Garrison Hatch, passed away. Albert and Mittie’s youngest child died at the early age of 52. That same day, the next youngest daughter, my Aunt Betty, also died. Both involved in a horrible auto accident, just a couple days after attending one of their Garrison family reunions. 

Aunt Betty and my mom, Clara Jean
With the realization of how quickly our loved ones can leave us, I set out on a mission to dig deeper, to find more information pertaining to my family’s history. Many years ago, my father encouraged me to do genealogy, so I have been researching all sides of my family for some time. As I have gotten further into it, I see that for a large part of that time it had really been somewhat of a superficial search. Now that I have a little more time, it has become a bigger priority to figure out “from whence I came.”

Searching for ancestors is fun! Is it easy? Think for a moment, if you will, about a jigsaw puzzle. When you dump out all the pieces of the puzzle on the table, it looks like a big jumbled mess. That is kind of what it feels like when you first start doing your family history. But just like when doing a puzzle, you find a piece, and then you find one that attaches to it, and another, and another and pretty soon, you start to see a little piece of the picture. The more you do, the clearer the picture becomes. It's a lot like that when doing research on your ancestors. You find a clue here and there on your family member and pretty soon, you start to see what they were like, you get to know more about them, they start to become a real person, a member of your family.

I’ve been doing research on the Garrison side of my family tree, and I haven’t been able to get any further than John Wesley Garrison, my Great Great Grandfather. No matter how hard I have tried, I keep hitting that proverbial brick wall. However, I do know a few things about him. He was born in 1832 and died in 1911. He lived in the Rowan and Davidson County, North Carolina area and although not verified yet, we think he was married to Mary Ann Mathis. He is buried in Abbott’s Creek Primitive Baptist Cemetery in Wallburg, Davidson County, NC. Have you heard of this family? I would love to hear from you if you have. I recently joined the Garrison DNA Project and they already have someone in their system that is a descendant of John Wesley, so they are hopeful that eventually we can find and verify his parents and other ancestors.

Every little bit of information leads you down a path that could be the exact one you need to be on. But I will tell you, I have been down a lot of rabbit holes too, thinking I was on the right track, only to find after hours of research, that I wasn’t. But you just press on and within no time you have another piece of that jigsaw puzzle in place, making even the wasted time seem worthwhile. Are you looking into your family history? If you’re not, I would encourage you to. However, be prepared, because it can be addictive. In fact, I think it’s time for me to go find some more pieces to my puzzle!

Terri’s Tidbit for Today: Do you have a local Genealogical Society in your town? They are such a wonderful resource for looking up Family History. The Genealogical Society of Kendall County, in Boerne, has room after room full of valuable information that could help you learn more about your family. Joining gets you even more benefits. Check them out on the web by clicking here or look for a society in your area.

Side note: After reading my last blog, my little brother commented on how we used to play some board games at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Immediately one of those games came to mind. My grandfather had a Carrom Board. Have you ever played Carrom? He used to sit for hours and take turns with each of us grandkids that wanted to play. You have the board (see below) and all these little wooden rings. You picked a color and then you tried to get them into the little nets by flicking them with your finger. I have long since forgotten the rules but the one thing I do remember was how my finger would hurt so bad after playing just a couple games, but Grandpa would play over and over again and it never seemed to bother him. Thanks Todd for reminding me of that special time in our past!