Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy 96th Birthday Grandma!!!

On 3 Sept 2014 my grandmother will turn 96 years old.

Helen Louise Wise King - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
My maternal Grandmother, Helen Louise Wise King.
My grandmother is one incredible woman.  I adore her to pieces.  Grandma is a gentle, kind, loving woman.  Yet, she can be a little spitfire at times!  I love my grandma!!

Charles Joseph and Mazie Rosina Mills Wise - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
My great grandparents: Charles Joseph and Mazie Rosina Mills Wise.

Grandma was born 3 Sept 1914 in Washington, DC., the third child of the seven born to Charles Joseph Wise and Mazie Rosina Mills.

Before I continue, let me explain that my grandmother is the original family historian.  She is the one who is responsible for giving me the "family history/genealogy bug".  I love her for that!!!  When it became too much for her to handle, I took over.  My grandmother wrote a little bit about her childhood, and her siblings which I would like to share with you.  She also wrote letters to her "Precious Gifts", her children.  These letters and memories show what a kind, gentle, loving sister, wife, mother and grandmother she is.  These are her words and hers alone.  

From my grandmother, Helen Louise Wise King:  Memories of my early childhood - (written for her children)
My mother was a wonderful woman, good housewife and friend.  She was always waiting for us when we got home from school.  When we were in school she visited her parents and took them something she had just baked.  My father was an "iceman" and he drove a team of horses and wagon to deliver his ice in.  He worked five days a week and he worked very hard.  He was a good provider for his family.  He also visited his parents on his way home from work.  I remember all of our family sitting down to have supper together.  My father would ask, "did you all have a nice day?" or "did you have any problems?" - if the answer was "yes" then they would be discussed.  After the table was cleared, dishes washed and kitchen cleaned all the children sat down and did their homework at the kitchen table.  Mom and Dad would go into the living room.  After we finished our homework, we could join our parents.  I can remember all of us sitting around and singing while my mother played her organ.  She never had any music lessons, but she could play anything you asked her. 

I remember a sad Valentine's Day in 1931; my youngest brother (Gilbert Hadley Wise) was sick for a couple of days.  A doctor was attending him but he died on this day from pneumonia.  All of us were very sad and upset.  Six months later our mother died on Oct. 3, 1931.  This to was a very sad time for us.  We missed our mother very much.  After my mother died, my father's mother (Margaret Catherine Knott Wise) came to live with us.  My grandmother had been a widow for a few years and was living alone.  Her best friend lived next door to us but she remarried.  They also were raising their two grandsons, Elmer (my grandfather) and Raymond King.  

I can remember hanging wet clothes out to dry on a very cold day.  It was not a pleasant chore but carrying them in with your nose buried in the fresh cold smell made the effort worth while after a long winter.  I remember the pleasures of playing outside after school in the spring weather on the first warm day.  In the house I could still smell the fresh grass crushed on my clothes and skin.  Spring finally arrived and we knew school would be out soon.  

Your dad (my grandfather - Elmer Joseph King) tried to choose me all the time for his partner and this made me mad.  One day I told him, "not to choose me anymore" because I didn't like him.  He looked at me with his big blue eyes and smiled.  Then he said "you are my girlfriend and you will like me someday", we continued skating.  Your dad (my grandfather) used to flirt with me.  We got to know each other better.  Your dad (my grandfather) was always a persistent guy who would scheme or bribe to make captain of our team.  He loved to be captain all the time.  He was unhappy when he wasn't.  

I remember the first time when my sister came out of school; there stood her boyfriend with your dad.  My sister's boyfriend was always there to carry her books home - now here was your dad carrying my books home too.  I remember one day your dad was really excited and happy - his science teacher told him if his father approved, he would pay your dad's way through college.  His teacher made four appointments with his dad.  He never showed up for any of them.  His teacher finally got in touch with him and your dad's father said "no".  He didn't need any college education and to forget it.  This made your dad mad, so he quit school and signed up for the navy for 18 months.  

We did not hear from your dad for a while.  Then his letters started coming.  One of his letters said he was coming home on leave in 2 weeks.  Everyone missed him.  Your dad looked so handsome in his dark blue navy uniform.  Everyone couldn't get over his change.  After his leave was up he went back to the navy telling me how much he missed and loved me.

Helen Louise Wise and Elmer Joseph King - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Helen Louise Wise and Elmer Joseph King.

The next time we saw your dad he was wearing his white uniform and still my father wouldn't let me go out with him alone.  We had to have a chaperon with us; even in my father's own theater. 

During his enlistment of 18 months, the navy found out he lied about his age but they let him finish his 18 months out.  I can still remember the day he came home after he finished his enlistment.  My brother bought his car, a 1934 Ford with a rambler seat in the back.  All of us kids was waiting for our turn to ride in his car.  As soon as were getting into his car who do you think came home?  My father told your dad he could ride up front.  People were waving and tipping their hats - you were now seeing more vehicles then before.  Now your dad was driving a laundry truck.  We began to see each other again.  I never knew how much I missed him.  Now I was falling in love with him.  Your dad was 18 and I was 16.  When he asked me to marry him 16 was a legal age to marry without parental consent.  So we waited a little while.  One month before my 17th birthday (3 Aug 1935) and your dad was still 18 we eloped and got married without telling our parents.  

Helen Louise Wise King - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Helen Louise Wise King

I can remember our 1 room bedroom apartment.  Your dad was making $15 a week - $5 went for rent, then we had to pay for food.  We even had enough money to go and see movies.  Every Saturday night was night out.  We went somewhere special on our nights.  After being married 18 months and 21 days God sent us our first of seven wonderful gifts from heaven.  We were very proud of each one and we thanked the Lord for giving us parenthood.  These were our happiest moments of our life that never dimmed throughout all the years with tears and happiness.  

Richard, Elmer, Shirley, Helen Louise, Linda, Margaret and Penny King - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
The King Family
Back row L to R:  Richard, Elmer (my grandfather), Shirley (my Mom)
Front row L to R:  Helen Louise (my grandmother) Linda, Margaret, Penny

Now WWII has started and the Army has drafted your dad.  So he is off for basic training.  Then overseas he went.  After the war was over he decided to stay in the service.  Now that the Army/Air Force has decided to go to their own units, your dad went into the Air Force.  He said it would be a good experience and good opportunities for his family.  We traveled with him to Germany, New York, Washington DC, Japan, Texas, Ohio, Hawaii, Montana, and Arizona where he retired.  After his retirement we just enjoyed life together.  After a while he began to get sick more and more - we stayed in the house.  

Your dad was a wonderful guy.  He enjoyed working with his hands - always making something.  He could never sit still.  I always told him he had "ants in his pants".  (Granddad had emphysema and passed away 29 Mar 1991) God has called my friend, pal, companion, my life, my lover and beloved husband home.  No more pain or suffering for him now.  He is were his roses will never fade.  Here we have a bond that held 2 hearts in love.  A love that is secure, received it's strength and comes from God is a great love.  Our love did endure in our lifetime.  A successful marriage is more than finding the right person - it's being the right person.  Success in marriage comes from working together in our relationship to our mates.  It's strength reaches down beyond the couples mutual love for each other and relies in daily living.  I miss our good night hug and kisses, telling each other how much we love one another.  Telling each other how we felt or what happened that day.  My dear you are gone but we will never forget you.  I also miss my mother, father, sister, and 2 brothers.  Thank God for our wonderful children, their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They are all the sunshine in our life.

Helen Louise King
July 11, 1994

What heart warming memories.  This letter really opened my eyes in regards to my grandmother.  She was a child, a sister, a woman, a wife, a mother and a grandmother.  Reading her words and her feelings touched me in so many ways.  It has allowed me to see what her life was like growing up and into her adult life.  

Helen Louise Wise King 5 May 2014 - My Family History Journey - Debbie Lowrance
Helen Louise Wise King
5 May 2014

Like I said, Grandma is an amazing woman!  She has a saying "Life is beautiful!"  So are you Grandma, so are you!  I love you Grandma!!


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