Note: Born in a sharecropper's shack in Oklahoma "To all my grand kids, greatgrand kids, and greatgreatgrand kids. (Gee! That's quite a menagerie!!!) This is a composit of the years and years that I have lived. Some years were tough--some were better and some I wouldn't trade for all the gold in the world.
I was born in northwest Oklahoma (Beaver County, Oklahoma). My folks were poor - but so was everyone else in those days. My folks had three babies in five years so you can imagine - three babies in diapers at one time. The diapers were cloth, the three cornered kind - held up with three big safety pins.(How would you young mothers like to do the washing of cloth diapers for three babies every day?)
At the age of four, I fell in love with the young male school teacher who taught at the neighborhood school and he tied his horse in our barn. I decided I would be a school teacher, "Just like Fay" - a dream that stayed with me until my school years were completed.
I took the teacher's exams at seventeen (17) years of age and was on my way on September 3rd, 1931. I was hired to teach in a rural school, with about eight to ten (8-10) students strung out in eight (8) grades - one or two (1 or 3) kids to a class - imagine that.
In August of 1931 I met a fantastic, handsome frenchman from Damar, Kansas. He was twenty-two (22) years old, olive complexion, blue eyees you could drown in and coal black hair - Wow!
On Christmas Eve we eloped to Hill City, Kansas. Got the Justice of the Peace out of bed and I became Mrs. George Desaire - with no ring, no wedding gown, and no money! Between us we had $67.00 in our pockets.
I started my year of teaching with high hopes - but to my dismay the school board decided they didn't want a married teacher - and out I went. (In those days all you had to do was complain to the County Superintendent of Schools about anything - especially if there was some other teacher in the neighborhood hunting for a teaching job. Believe me there was a shortage of teaching jobs in the 1930s.
So here we newlyweds were, without jobs, scratching our heads, wondering what to do. It all came to a happy conclusion when George got a job as a section hand on the railroad in Zurich, Kansas. He started working hard labor on the railroad for $2.50 per day! We lived in a boxcar on the railroad line. George worked on the railroad until his mother Blanche Desaire rented her farm to him to farm.We moved to Damar, Kansas, fixed up a house nearby and in 1934 my daughter Phyllis, your mother, your grandmother, your greatgrandmother was born. Her baby days were pure joy to me as I felt like a child with a beautiful baby doll to love and play with.
We went through the dust storm era (the Dirty 30s). The government paid us for three of our four cows (one cow starved to death since there was no crops and no feed for the cows). The government made jobs for men and women to build roads, to build parks, ponds, lakes, etc. etc. etc. These jobs gave us just enough money to have something to eat. The government furnished us with canned meat, butter, dried fruit, flour, and we got by, until it finally started to rain and then the duststorm days in the 1930s were done.
We began to get a toehold in farming with the help of three of George's little brothers who worked their little tails off all summer for new school clothes for the fall term. (Not a very good wage scale but their folks felt that was good enough since they were "learning how to work". Boy, did they ever learn how to work, with old machinery, and long late hours but it was all in a summer's education. I doubt if any kid today could endure the labor those kids put out, without too much complaining they stayed at it until the last clod of dirt was turned. Years later they laughed about the things that happened and were as proud of Phyllis, DD, and Larry as they were of their own children.
In 1937 along came uncle DD, the most beautiful baby boy any Mom ever had. Oh yes, there was another blessed surprise in our family in 1945. Although I had put all my baby clothes in storage and had started thinking of myself as a matron of 32 years, I started feeling "kinda queesey" in the morning and not very hungry most of the time. Suddenly, it dawned on me that "Actually I'd swear I am pregnant" - and I was!
There never could have been a happier family when Uncle Larry came along. It took some doing for Uncle DD to understand that his Moma wasn't sick that first morning after he and Phyllis say the doctor's car parked in our yard when the school bus carried them to school. They had spent the night with friends while all the excitement at our house was going on. George drove to school and brough DD and Phyllis back home to greet their new baby brother and the sight of their little faces is a memory I will never forget.
Larry was a good baby, Phyllis took charge of him and did just like she does so well today with every new baby that comes into her life. She was a perfect little mother. I nursed Larry but she took care of almost everything else.
There are many many stories of Phyllis, DD, and Larry's childhood that you will have to wait and read later as this is getting pretty long.
Our family began to prosper. Our kids grew up. At the age of 8-10 Uncle DD started driving the tractor, working in the fields. At 10 or 11 Phyllis could cook almost as well as her Mom and did most of the housework and cared for Larry.
Those were the days! DD and I worked in the fields, did farm chores, drove trucks, plowed acres and acres of wheat land. Sometimes Phyllis went along as she could drive as well as anyone else. All in all we were a very, very busy family in those days.
Our farm acreage grew. George would find land for sale, borrow money from the Farmers State Bank of Bogue, Kansas to buy it, put all the income from the land on the debt and pay off the debt the first year. Then came another year of hard work for all of us. We fed cattle, slopped hogs, raised chickens, hauled out manure from the chicken house, etc. etc. etc.
There was a lot of alcoholism in the Desaire family. I put up with a lot of drinking and gambling. I have fought alcohol all my life and thank God I feel it is a thing of the past for my immediate family. I sincerely hope that none of you younger generation is stupid enough to think you are big enough to handle drinking. You aren't, sooner or later it will get you. There is nothing smart or funny about being drunk.
Phyllis, DD, and Larry lost their Dad in 1954 while we were living in Damar, Kansas. We had moved to town when I became ill with cancer and George with diabetes and heart failure.
There are many more stories I could tell of Phyllis and Everett's wedding, DD going into the military service at 17 years old, and of Larry's keen ability as a baseball pitcher - our years together were fun! There are good and bad memories for my kids but all in all we did all right. Their families have grown up and have given me such a feeling of satisfaction when I start counting my many grandkids, greatgrand kids, and greatgreatgrand kids. Wow!!!!!!!!!!! What a bunch!!!!!!!!
Perhaps later, I'll do another chapter or two of this saga. Larry, I hope you can read this. I have decided to give you this much now. Later I will write of incidents that they might enjoy so it won't be too long and maybe more interesting to the greatgrand children. I used to love to write and do, yet., but my writing is getting worse and my eye sight also. Maybe after my eye surgery I can do better. Bye Mima
"Tough times bred tough people" the saying goes -- George and Amy were bred from tough stock. Nothing ever came easy for any of the Desaires or the Garringers. George's first job was laying railroad track for the Union Pacific railroad at Zurich, Kansas for $2.50 for a day's wages. This track would lead to a railroad line linking western Kansas farming communities with grain markets throughout the world through the Chicago Board of Trade.
George and Amy Desaire’s first home was the non-insulated railroad boxcar with a pot-bellied coal cooking stove. They used discarded wooden orange crates for chairs and a rough hewn wooden plank nailed to the side of the boxcar was their dining table. Amy gathered white linen flour sacks and sewed little red hair ribbons on the sacks for a decorative table cloth and curtains for the newly weds' first home.
Amy was a school teacher in a one room country school at the time of their marriage. She had graduated from Webster High School at Webster, Kansas at the age of eighteen and received her teaching certificate on September 3, 1931. This teaching certificate was a treasured award for Amy and the Garringer family. At four years of age, Amy fell in love with a male country school teacher who taught in a rual Oklahoma school. This teacher tied his horese in the Garringer family barn. Amy decided at four years of age she wanted to be a school teacher, "Just like Fay" a dream she held onto until she finished her high school education. George quit school after the seventh grade because he decided to pick corn rather than face his seventh grade English comprehensive exams. His family spoke Canadian French in the home and I doubt that he could speak English before he started school.
Amy’s teacher encouraged Amy to finish high school so Amy could become a school teacher. Amy's teacher asked Al Garringer, Amy's father, if Amy could move into the teacher's home to finish her senior year of high school and take the preparation courses needed to become a school teacher. After Amy moved in with the teacher, the teacher took Amy to the doctor and Amy was diagnosed with malnutrition -- she had been starving to death living in her own parent's home. Amy was bedridden for several weeks until she gained strength to finish her senior year of high school. Amy finished her senior year of high school and was awarded a Kansas State Normal Teaching Certificate to teach school in a one-room country school house. This teaching certificate was a treasured award for Amy and the Garringer family. Amy was the first of the Garringer and Livingston families to graduate from high school.
During her previous years of school, Amy remembers taking gravy or lard sandwiches to school because there was no other food in the house. Many of these "poor boy" sandwiches were thrown away on the three mile walk to school so fellow students would not ridicule her when others saw the type of sandwiches she brought to school.
Amy's first country school contained children from the local area where the school was located. The school house was usually located within walking distance (3 miles) of where children lived. Class sizes were small sometimes with only one or two children in a grade. The teacher might have two first graders, no second or third graders, and several fifth, seventh, and eighth graders. Needless to say, individualized learning took place in the 1930's public school system.
Amy was an innovative teacher in her one-room country school. Tradition said that all the desks had to be aligned in straight rows facing the front and center of the classroom. The coal or wood burning heating stove was centered in the middle of the room for better heat distribution. Amy threw tradition to the wind and gathered her children around the pot-bellied stove in the center of the classroom into her "learning circle" as she called it. Learning circles are popular in the public school education system today but not necessarily because today's children are freezing to death in school.
Amy probably started the first school hot lunch program in the area. Amy had several children in her school that came from other poor families in the neighborhood. These children reminded Amy of her own early school days -- not enough to eat at home. From firsthand knowledge, Amy knew hungry children had difficulty learning in the classroom. Amy organized a pie auction in order to raise money to buy a hot plate in order to prepare hot lunches on the pot bellied stove. She asked the parents of all the children to donate extra food so all the children could have a hot meal at school. Amy not only taught the "3-R's - Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic" but she also taught parents and their children the joy of sharing with others. No hungry child would ever attend Amy's country school house if she could do anything about it!
Amy taught school for only a short period of time. She was asked to resign soon after her marriage when the school board learned she married George during the middle of the school term. At the time, it was traditional that only unmarried female teachers were thought to be moral enough for the classroom. The children lost a very gifted and caring teacher with the school board's decision to ask Amy for her resignation.
Amy continued her interest in education by substitute teaching in the public-parochial school at Damar, Kansas after the family moved to the farm two and a half miles north of Damar, Kansas. She was a major influence in my graduating from Fort Hays State University at Hays, Kansas with a teaching and coaching degree.
Memey, Thank you so much for thinking of us enough to put letters like this out here for us to read. The material is interesting and gives us all a record of which to be proud. And by the way, you write real well. Can't wait for more history from you! Hope all is well with you and Uncle DD there... Warmest Regards, Tony
Amy L. Chance, 90, of Plainville, Kan., died Sunday, Feb. 15, 2004, at Rooks County Health Center in Plainville. Services will be held Wednesday at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Plainville. Burial will be in the St. Joseph Cemetery at Damar, Kansas.
Written byAdrain DesaireFeb. 16, 2004 Born in a sharecroppers shack in Oklahoma,Raised on the dusty, barren, Kansas plainShe learned from her Father, the gentle art of conversation,And twisted it into writing, when she came of age.First and foremost, Amy loved to write letters or poems Letters of any kind to many sides of the waring globeLetters of praise to all the fighting men and womenFighting the Fuehrer in Deutschland and the many captives on Burma Road She married, " The Most Handsome Man she Ever laid Eyes on."This was Amy's way of explaining her love of her chosen manThe man she choose to come into her heart to live foreverThis giant of a man who loved the soil and had a plan.The plan was to buy that quarter section, of fertile farmground,With gentle stream, rolling hills and pasture land Of raising, along with the cattle, a healthy houseful Of God fearing kids,A loving reward for this Family Man First the girl, then the first son, and then another In a three room house, on a gravel road, on Weary Lane Many hours they worked, her right beside him In the searing heat, the howling winds, of this wind swept plain. The " Dirty Thirties", " A Man Made Hell", or what ever you call itAmy survived it, along with George, they came out strong No more at ease, with the cards that nature dealt them They grabbed the reins, of that runaway team And hollered "Woah" For thirteen years they struggled on and built their empire Never once suspecting, the final outcome, of their many chores Would simply be, the dirtiest word in their dictionary "Illness" came, Not to Amy but to her beloved George. The doctor came, but shook his head, said " His hearts the problem" He lasted the night, but the setting sun, he wouldn't see again He left her in body, but in her heart she could always find him Knowing someday, following Gods plan, they would meet again.Last night she left us, here on earth, she went to meet him In that fabled land of many mansions where there is no pain No illness there, no crippled hips, no sugar checking Just happiness, so Praise The Lord, they're together again.
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