One Voice of the Oklahoma Prairie, Cont. (3)

Grandmother at 15 years old, the age when she began doing all the chores and taking care of children for Dr. and Mrs. Cooper in Oklahoma City.

Editor’s Note:  If you are just beginning to read these entries, you may wish to start with the first, then the second before you begin this particular work.  Thanks, Red Dirt Kelly

During the summer of 1937, at the age of fifteen, I took a job in Oklahoma City caring for three children of Dr. and Mrs. Cooper.  I would take the train from Tuttle to Oklahoma City, then ride the interurban to within a few blocks of Dr. Cooper’s.  When I’d hear the train blow the whistle down the track [when in Tuttle] I’d start to cry because I was already getting homesick.  The first summer I didn’t come home very often.  I had Dr. Cooper save up my money until I went home to start to school.  I started out making $3.00 a week plus room and board. After Mrs. Cooper went to the hospital to have a baby they raised my salary to $4.00 [per day].

The Coopers had two girls and two boys. I’d cook breakfast, wash, iron, clean house and watch the children.  I worked for them three summers and one Christmas vacation.  I always bought clothes for school with my earnings.  The first year I bought a rust colored coat, black dress with a lace yolk and black shoes.  I thought I was really dressed up.  I made $36.00 that summer; my coat cost $16.00.

Grandmother Emma Lee at the train Station.

Emma Lee with her mother.
High school graduation (1940) and the year she married Quentin.

I married Quentin Bomgardner June 29, 1940 – the year I graduated from high school.  He graduated in 1937; we were going together during that time, and he waited for me until I got out of school.  My Dad really liked him. If he didn’t come to see me very often my Dad would want to know where he was.  Quentin’s mother had married Oren Porter in 1936 so she moved to Halltown, Missouri. Quentin went there and worked quite a lot after he graduated.

I found this marker during a trip through Halltown, MO in 2009 (117th Indiana Infantry Division, Civil War). One of Oren's family members.
I found this marker as well. Another of Oren's family members, or the same? (1799-1887)
Here is Oren's marker. He was buried with his first wife.

After we were married he helped his brothers run a thrashing machine. I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Kimble, the banker, to help pay back $16.00  I had borrowed when I graduated.  I had borrowed that amount so I’d have money to buy new shoes and dress to graduate in.

Quentin’s two brothers (Merrill & Gail) were in the 45th National Guard, it mobilized and they went in the guard full time.  Quentin was in the 45th for a while but when he went to Missouri to stay with his mother he got out.  Gail was living at the Bomgardner home place at Tuttle when he went in the service full time.  Quentin and I moved to the home place when Gail left.  Gail’s wife, Lucille, went to Minco, OK to live with her Uncle and Aunt.  There were only 90 acres on the home place so making a living while farming wasn’t very profitable. We had to think of some way to do better so we raised chickens to sell eggs, and milked cows to sell milk.  I can remember we milked twelve by hand; sure a hard job!

In July 17, 1941 our first son was born, a cute little baby!  We weren’t expecting him until September so he sorta slipped up on us. He only weighed 5 ½  pounds, but he got along real well.  We were proud of him.  He started walking the day he was one year old when we were in Missouri at the grandparents’.  He was rather a quiet little boy, always climbing and getting into things. Guess he didn’t have to say much; found out things for himself.  Quentin would change the oil in the old ’34 Ford and leave it setting in a dishpan. I remember the summer our first child was almost two he came walking in the house with a sheepish grin all covered with oil.  I had company that day! My sister Willa May was with me so she took him out on the back porch to clean him up…then when the company left I went out to help.  Willa May didn’t know what to do to clean him. We had to use Kerosene to get the oil off, then put him in a tub of water with soap to get off the kerosene.

We didn’t name our first son until he was two weeks old.  His Uncle Gail called him “Izzie Bob;” said if we didn’t give him a name that name would stick with him.  I guess we couldn’t think of a name good enough.  When he was two weeks old Quentin got his questionnaire for the draft. We had to have the name of any children on that.  So we got busy and picked out a name – we named him Kenneth Wayne.  Kenny was born at home on Thursday at 1:30 in the afternoon.  The doctor usually charged $35.00 to deliver a baby but since he was the first child gave us $5.00 back.

The summer of 1943 we were expecting our second child.  I thought I wanted a girl at first but the closer the time came I decided I wanted another boy.  This time I had a name picked out. He was named for a friend – Teral Cable, who was in the service overseas. And for my brother Charles who was overseas.  Our second child was born June 27, 1943 Sunday morning at 1:30 AM.  He was a pretty brown-eyed baby boy weighing 10 ½ pounds; we named him Charles Teral.  Quentin worked that summer driving a gas truck for Bud Grimes. This time I had planned to go to the hospital. The doctor told me I would do just as well at home with my mother taking care of me, so we had him at home also.  This time the doctor charged $35.00.  We called him Terry.  He was a good baby – so fat and cute!

Vials of penicillin from 1944. Image from the History of Science Museum.

A sad thing happened to him at the age of one when he just began to walk:  I was ironing.  Terry went in a little room off the kitchen where there was a three burner oil stove.  I had a small can of kerosene setting on top of the stove. He reached up and got it, dumped it on him and swallowed some!  He had a close call. We took him to the doctor every day for several days but he kept getting worse. We took him to the hospital and they told us he had a collapsed lung, pneumonia in one lung and a hole in the tube to his lungs. He was there eleven days; he was still there when Kenny had his third birthday.  The doctors had started giving him a sulfa drug but it didn’t work. They had just released penicillin to the public so they started him on that, and he started improving.

We never had much money but we loved our two boys.  We always at least tried to have a good Christmas, and a good vacation each year.

Next week:  a tragedy strikes Emma Lee’s family, new hope is found and you’ll learn more about her siblings and how different they all were. 1/16/11 Note: Check for all the posts using THIS LINK.



3 thoughts on “One Voice of the Oklahoma Prairie, Cont. (3)”

  1. Hi Kelly,

    If you have Emma Lee’s notes in a format that could be emailed, would you consider sending them to me? I’m going to see Dad this weekend, and would love to be able to print them and take him a copy.

    Cousin Laurinda

  2. Hi Kelly,

    I’m really enjoying your posts from Aunt Emma Lee’s memoirs. Love the picture of her and Grandma Coward. Aunt Emma Lee was a pretty young girl, and she’s still pretty!

    Your cousin, Laurinda

    1. Hello, Laurinda – thanks for your note! I’ve enjoyed transcribing her notes and have a new appreciation for how blessed we are. I’m sure there are many additions or enhancements your father could add! Glad you’re checking in on them…take care, Kelly

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