The Happiest Time of my Life

There were so many happy times in my life, that it is next to impossible to pick one.  But I have decided on one from my early childhood, and then I will briefly mention a couple of others.

It was Christmas time when I was four years old.  We were visiting my paternal grandparents in Peoria, Arizona, in the manse that Grandfather Dugger had built for the Presbyterian church he was Pastoring.  The beautifully decorated Christmas tree was in the living room. A bed had been tucked behind it, next to Grandpa’s study, where Aunt Nellie and I were to sleep.  There were lots of Christmas secrets being shared with this little girl, that I mustn’t tell.  One was a small radio that Aunt Nellie had bought for Grandpa, and I was allowed to watch her wrap it in very pretty red and green wrapping paper with Holly branches and berries.  I could feel the excitement building.

There was much going on in the kitchen as the women prepared food for the big day.  The aroma was always present, and tempting.  There was much chatter and happiness there among the womenfolk in that kitchen.  When my cousins arrived, we used to play outdoors in the big ditches that ran in front of the houses that were used to supply water in summer.  So much was happening and it was all fun.  The whole family was together and you could feel the love.

But for me the best part was waking up in the morning as Grandpa came through to light the pot bellied stove in the middle of the living room so the house would be warm when all of his family got up to greet the day.  Grandpa always came through the door singing.  He was very happy to have all of his children home with their families, and especially his grandchildren.  I thought it was such a nice way to start the day.  There I was sleeping next to that tree with beautiful colored lights, and a fresh pine aroma, and listening to my happy grandpa greet the day in song.  That is still a wonderful memory in my heart.


But I also have to mention the moment of coming down the aisle of my home church on my Dad’s arm. I was wearing a beautiful borrowed wedding gown and carrying a white bible with a purple Orchid on it.  I saw my Jim standing there waiting for me.  We had been separated for nine long months while he completed his first year of seminary where he would eventually get a Master’s degree in Chicago, while I finished my last year of college in San Diego.  I saw him watching me, and I was thinking that from here on out we would be together in life.


Then there was the time our first little baby was born.  A pretty little girl lay in my arms looking up at me.   She had dark hair, weighed 7lbs 5 oz. and was 21 inches tall.  She was perfect.  That sweet little face was our beautiful daughter.  I tried to imagine who she looked like but gave up.  She looked like her own precious little self, and I thanked God for her.  This would be repeated four times in our life together, each with a little boy.  Each was a part of me and a part of Jim, and parts of many, many before us.  Each time my heart was overflowing with love and thankfulness.  God was really blessing us. 


These were certainly happy times that could not be left out.  Family and love is indeed the source of the happiest times of our lives.

Posted in 1930, Christian Faith, education, Family, Geneology, Holiday, Memories, Music | 4 Comments

Teaching in the Midwest

My story tonight is the reason I didn’t become a teacher, and how I became a teacher anyway, and loved it. This began about 77 years ago. My Dad had been a high school English teacher, before he became an Elementary school Principal. Both of his sisters were teachers. Dad’s mother, my Grandmother had been a teacher before she married. So everyone told me that I would be a teacher because it was in my blood. Well being a bit of a stubborn little girl, I said no I would not. This went on most of the years I was growing up.

When I got to college I did major in Elementary Education, but two things happened. In elementary art, I, who usually got good grades, got a “C”. I got better than that when I was in elementary school. The other thing, my sorority sisters who were in their third and fourth years complained that they got yelled at in practice teaching if the children didn’t form a perfectly straight line when they lined them up. I thought that was ridiculous so I switched my major to English with a minor in Psychology. I was very happy and I didn’t really want to be a teacher anyway. Right? Well, not quite.

imageWhen we lived in Sigourney Iowa, I got a call from the high school superintendent. He badly needed a substitute and practically begged me to come. Some of our children were in school. and Jim’s office was in the home so he could watch them. And we certainly could use the money. So I said yes. Well, I loved it. And the superintendent liked my work. I wasn’t really legal in Iowa. But he said he’d rather have me with a college degree that people who were legal with only 10 hours of Normal School and no college who were considered legal. He joked and said he’d list me as a janitor. So I continued as needed which wasn’t a lot but I really, really loved it.

Then years later when we moved to Muscatine, Iowa, I applied at the Jr. High right across the field from our home. I was hired legally under an emergency certificate. I worked 3/4 time schedule which meant I would be home when my children got home or soon thereafter. Again I loved teaching even Jr. High, which many teachers said they didn’t like. I even had my daughter in one of my classes and she loved it because her friends liked the class.

So I became a teacher, and then later moved into preschool administration that I was definitely qualified to do. But that is another story. So this is how I got into teaching. And it was a wonderful experience, so maybe the family was right after all.

When the high school superintendent talked me into substituting, I told him I would substitute for any class except boys gym. In my thinking the obvious reason was that a woman can’t just race into a boys gym if a fight started or if someone got hurt. Sure enough, one day they did ask me to sub for boys gym, and I did refuse.

The second event made me think the teacher wasn’t really sick but knew what was going to happen and just didn’t want to be there. It was a Science class. The teacher had left her notes for me, about what was to happen that day. It seems the class had acquired an incubator so they could turn some eggs into chickens and see the whole process in the classroom. So that day we were to open the eggs which hadn’t hatched as they were supposed to do. Those kids had opened the incubator too many times so the chicks didn’t make it. We were opening rotten eggs and the smell was horrific. The kids supposedly learned a lesson about following directions, But their substitute teacher did not feel that was one of her finer or more pleasant days of teaching. I’m still laughing.

Other than those two incidents, everything else went well, and it was a fun time for me being there with those kids and working with them, hoping to add something a little special for them. So once again, it is almost tomorrow. I will wish you a good night of precious sleep, with happy dreams. I also wish you a joyous Christmas time with family and friends, and memories of Christmases past. God bless each of you and those you love. Goodnight. Hugs!

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Song ‘God Bless America’

god-blessEvery time I hear this song, my eyes tear up as they did the first time I ever heard it. World War 2 was a time that affected every American, both with loyalty and love for our country, and sadness as the Gold Stars went up on a front window of families in our neighborhoods and across the country messaging that this family had lost someone near and dear forever. Some families had more than one gold star. Sons, fathers, brothers, uncles. Later, well I’ll save that for some …of the stories I will tell you each evening for a while.

Many of you lived through all this too, and will recognize some of the things I may talk about. For others, you will want to know how it was way back in the 30’s and 40’s. Some of what I tell you would not necessarily have been known to the rest of the country. Some you may have forgotten.

I lived in a coastal city which made a lot of things different for us. But I will try to give you a feel for something really big at the time. This one song, sung by Kate Smith but written by Irving Berlin seemed to fit the situation we were living in. It touched our hearts. It kind of bound us all together. I’m posting this below, so you may hear the song, and read six things of how this song came to be written. I believe it will touch a core in all of you alive at that time, as many of my cousins were.

Read and hear more here:

Goodnight. Sleep well. May tomorrow be blessed by our God. May you keep sunshine in your hearts. Hugs and love to you all.

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1936 ~ 0ur New Car

usIt was 1936. I was not quite four years old. Dad and Mom had purchased a brand new car, a pretty blue Ford. Our old Franklyn that someone had to turn a thingy in front well and run back, jump in the car, and try to start it, was traded in for a more modern car. So the day Dad was to go and pick it up at the dealership. He took Grandpa Dugger, Mom, Ellis and me to the San Diego Harbor so we could walk around and enjoy the scenic area. He would be back to pick us up with the new car soon.

I remember we were sitting on a bench waiting for him when he drove up. How exciting it was to have this pretty new car. Uncle Edgar had recommended Ford because he always thought it to be the best back in those days. We all got in and drove home. That memory has stayed in my heart all of these years because very soon after that Grandpa died. That is another story. But I have a picture of Ellis and me in front of that pretty new car. I am feeling nostalgic tonight so that is why I am telling this story. I remember how pretty the Harbor was, and how blue the skies, and the water. I remember the love of our family. So this is the story for tonight. I think you all need a sparkling day tomorrow so let’s order that.

God bless you all. Sleep with your angels. Hugs.

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Our Grandfather’s Grandparents in Van Buren, Arkansas

As our last story ended, Robert Beane Scott, and his wife, Mary Ann Roark Scott, with their children had made their final move.  They had moved from Tennessee to Indian territory that later became Oklahoma, and lived there for awhile.  There is a story that he was kicked out by the Indians, but his family was allowed to stay, but I have been unable to verify that yet.  However he then moved his family to northwest of Van Buren, in Crawford County, Arkansas.  Their daughter, Margaret, was born there in May 1870, but she died three months later on September 7, 1870.


The records weren’t clear on the exact location of their home and farm, but best evidence suggests they bought a farm near Dripping Springs Community.  The Farm had a mortgage, and Robert and Mary Ann made payments once a year in the fall, from their crops.  Life was difficult for them but they worked hard.  Mary Ann was pregnant again.  Their daughter, Mary Ellen was born in July. 1871.


Their second summer there, Mary Ann’s brother Will came for a visit, apparently escaping for a while from an unpleasant romantic situation in Tennessee. Will was a great help to Robert in plowing the cotton since Robert’s sons, Noah, Miles, and Joseph, were still too young for heavy farm work.  At he end of the summer after receiving a letter from Will, Mary Ann and Robert wrote back.  She thanked him for writing with information about their families in Tennessee.  Then they thanked Will for all of his help.  The cotton was as high as a persons head.  They thought they would make $2000. on the corn in the fall.  She said she hoped to come and visit their parents as soon as the farm was paid off.


Mary Ann’s hopes were shattered when just a month later when Robert died suddenly on September 7, 1872.  Just ten days later their daughter, Tennessee, died.  She was just twelve years old. Mary Ann buried both her husband and daughter in Dripping Springs Cemetery.  She was left with a family of six girls aged from 21  to 1 years old, and three boys, Noah 9, Joseph, 6, and Miles 4 years old.  Mary Ann tried hard but she couldn’t herself work the farm and make the mortgage payments.  She was forced to give up the farm.It is thought by some that she probably survived as a tenant farmers.


Less than four years later,  Mary Ann got word that her father had died.  Her father, Joseph, had left specific instructions on how  the estate was to be divided.  His three sons, James, John, and Will executed an agreement among themselves as to how his instructions would be carried out.  Joseph’s three daughters, Mary Ann, Elizabeth, and Margaret, each had been given land from the estate, which later had to be purchased by the estate.  Also each daughter would be given a share in the remainder.  Mary Ann’s share would be $800.  Each daughter was to execute a quit claim on her previously held tract and release all interest to their brothers.  Then Will, as administrator, wrote to Mary Ann asking her to execute the Quit Claim right away then her share would be sent when it was received.  Mary Ann responded in a letter that showed she wasn’t going to be that easy.  She wasn’t too happy about it.  She said that it wasn’t that she didn’t trust him, but that life was uncertain, and death was sure and if she signed and sent the claim and he were to die and had said nothing about it, she would be out of it forever.  So she sent him a bond binding her to make the deed on receipt of the money, and only gave him to the 1st of July to send it, as she was sure that would give him enough time.


It worked out as Mary Ann had asked, and she received her money on June 2, 1876.  She purchased a 160 acre farm near by, from Alexander and Susan Thompson for $800.  The farm was described as NW4, Section 20, T10N, R32W.  Within six years, Mary Ann was able to buy an adjoining 40 acre tract for $200.  It became necessary later for her to mortgage her farm on December 31, 1886 probably for farm, household expenses.  The mortgage was paid in full on December 24,1891.


Mary Ann died on her farm on Sunday, October 9, 1892, at the age of fifty eight.  At that time she was a member of the Apostolic Church of the New Testament.  She was buried next to her husband in Dripping Springs Cemetery in Crawford County.  Their graves were marked only by field stones.Mary Ann Roark Scott circa 1890Tjis picture of her was taken around 1890 with her pipe. Their son Noah was our grandfather’s father.



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libraryWhen I was a child at girl scout Camp Tapawingo, in the San Diego mountains, one of my lifelong friends decided to b…e funny, and put a whole bunch of dried up leaves in my bed for a surprise that night. Well. I got the real surprise when I broke out with that awful, painful, red itchy rash. Mom said when I got home that washing my clothes with other people’s clothes in the family would spread it to them. So she had to wash mine separately, several times. And we had to keep putting stuff on my legs. So I was amazed to see my husband so free with the stuff.

When we moved to Sigourney, Iowa, for him to pastor the church, one of the things he discovered was that the boy scouts were not an active group because none of the adult men wanted to head it up. Our church sponsored a troop as many churches do. So he started them up again and he was Scout Master for a while as he got other fathers interested also. Then he turned it over to the fathers and the boys. But when camp time came, Jim arranged to go with them to camp. It was supposed to be for a week. But about three days later a car drove up, and unloaded my husband. I was surprised but they showed me his legs. They were covered with the largest blisters I had ever seen, and some had blood in them.

He apparently was on a hike and didn’t know he was walking in Poison Ivy. When I say blisters, I mean some were four and five inches long and at least a quarter to an inch high, ugly and mean. I got him to the doctor and he had to be off his feet for several days. He was in misery. He did not ever pick up Poison Oak or Ivy again, and he watched out for it to make sure he avoided it after that. They say that all is well that ends well, and so far neither of us has had to go through that again. I taught our children early what it looked like, so they could avoid it too. We were all alert for it when ever we were in woody areas. The picture here was Jim at that time in his life in his office in the manse next to the Sigourney Presbyterian Church.

So this is my story tonight. I wish you all a comfortable sleep in a cool house and a day of happiness tomorrow.

Sleep well and enjoy tomorrow. God bless. Hugs.

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Beulah Scott Fry and Family–Part 2


As we begin this part of the story, Beulah and John are still in their family home.  Their children are off with their own families.  Betty Ruth and Ross Banks with their children had moved to Seattle where Ross had been transferred.  Scotty and Frances Fry lived with their family in Phoenix.  And John Richard Fry Jr. with his family lived somewhere back east.

A couple of things I remember about the mining town was that a loud whistle blew every day at 12 noon, and the loud blasts of a two toned sound that everyone could hear for miles announcing a problem down in the mine that was serious.  Everyone was used to the noon one every day.  But when that other blast, similar to a tornado warning was heard, it meant trouble under ground.   Emergency vehicles, cars, and people running up the hill to the mine began at once because almost everyone in the town had someone working in the mine.  This was just part of life in a mining town.

One morning, Uncle John did not show up for work.  He was always punctual so his co-workers got worried.  They phoned the house, but no one answered.  So a couple of people drove to the Fry home.  They found Uncle John dead on the bathroom floor and Aunt Beulah unconscious in bed.  They got her to the hospital in time to keep her alive, but nothing could be done for her husband.  It seemed that the day before, a new heating unit was installed in their home by a local company.  The service people  did something wrong and I don’t remember if it was gas or Carbon Monoxide that leaked  and took one life and ruined another.  Aunt Beulah had some kind of brain damage and would never be normal again and would need care.

After John’s funeral, Betty Ruth took her Mom to Seattle to live with them.  Betty could watch out for her Mom and her meds and be sure things went well for her.  And Aunt Beulah was able to help with Nancy, Betty’s brain damaged child. (Measles)  Aunt Beulah could dress and undress Nancy, and play with her and help Betty some in the kitchen.  So it was mutually good for all concerned with the two problems.

I forgot to mention in the first part of this story, that Betty Ruth had a beautiful trained voice.  She had sung at Jim’s and my wedding years earlier, when she still lived in San Diego.  She also sung at wedding, funerals and in churches.

John Jr. was a national figure who was called before congress over a situation with the Black Panthers in Chicago  The story I wrote about his life when he died is on this blog if you want to read about your notorious cousin.  Smile

John Jr. also did movie reviews for a church magazine called “Presbyterian Life”.  He was very popular for these.  One time Otto Preminger said that John was the best movie reviewer out there but he hated his guts, because he was usually right.  We got a laugh out of that.  He also wrote two or three books on theology that were published.  When we got together at a General Assembly Meeting of the Presbyterian Church in Des Moines, Iowa, one year, he signed my copy of one of them.

This is as much as I plan to tell about these relatives.  I have to admit I cared about all of this family as I do about most of you.  Family is special and friends are special and both have a huge part of our hearts.

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