TO MY CHILDREN AND GRAND CHILDREN
Bernice B. Fortner
Roger asked me to say something on tape about my childhood. The first thing I can remember was at ? Burkbernet, Texas, before Glenn was born. That was before I was four years old. I remember the storm that blew the oil rig down that Daddy was working on. We were living in a two room shack that you moved when you moved the derrick from place to place. Dad and some men put a big plank that went from the corner of one room through the door to the other corner of the second room. Mother put us kids under the big round table. The men hung on that board, holding the building down. Not one of us was hurt.
At this same place, after Glenn was born, someone had a shetland pony. He would follow us kids around, onto the porch and into the house if Mother would let him.
The next thing that comes to mind was when Burb was born in Arkansas. I remember the black lady that stayed with us when Burb was born, Mother had yellow jaundice. The black lady had a little black baby. I remember her setting the baby in an apple box in the kitchen. Us kids would get down and love and kiss the baby, she would say, no you mustn't kiss my baby, but us kids loved the baby so it made no difference if it was black. Burb was born on December 9 and that Christmas I got a buggy for Christmas, I pushed Burb in that buggy.
Then I remember the trip by train to Clayton, New Mexico. Daddy worked in the fields, planted pinto beans and peanuts. We had some Mexicans staying in the loft of the barn to help out, they threw apples down to us kids. At this same place we would gather cow chips to burn. The older kids will probably know what cow chips are. Son and I would get a big tub, one on each side. We would go down to the pasture and pick them up to burn in the stove to cook with, also to keep worm in the wood stove.
The older folks would say that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so when we would see a rainbow, we would start running, it looked so close. We would run and run until Dad and Mother would call us back. You could see for miles.
When we left New Mexico we left on a wagon load of pinto beans, sacked up in big sacks. Oh yes Mother always ordered from the Sears catalog. When she was through with it she would give it to me for paper dolls, I was always thrilled. Well we didn't get to take the catalog. I remember crying, I wanted it so bad. We left it on one of the rafters.
While we were in New Mexico, my uncle John and aunt Willie would come to see us and bring us a sack of candy. He would hide it in his car, we would find it. Oh yes that reminded me of Arkansas. When we paid our bills at the end of the week, the man would give us a stick of candy. That was a treat you see we didn't get much of those kinds of things in those days.
We went to Madsonville where Toy was born. Dad was there drilling an oil well. My cousin and her husband lived in a one room shack and we lived in a two room house. The kitchen was in between. All the rough necks that worked on the derrick ate at the kitchen. We lived out in the country down by the river, close to Huntsville where the prison was. When the prisoners escaped they would send dogs after them. I remember one time they came down the river and we could hear the dogs barking. The night Toy was born, it had rained and the doctor came as far as he could by car, then on horseback to our place. I sat on the steps of the kitchen and held Burb, he was 18 months old. I remember how scared I was since it was getting dark, but when they said I had a sister, everything was alright.
When we got ready to leave Madosonville, uncle Bob, Dads brother came and took us back where he lived at Fort Worth, Texas. We stayed there a few weeks then on to Electra, Texas. That was the first time I remember going to church and it was the Church of God. We didn't stay long before Dad got work in the oil fields at Albany. That was where I got saved and later, Mother and Dad, in an Assembly of God revival there with brother and sister Mason. I remember the first Easter, I got a real frilly dress short sleeves and kind of a silky matt. Sister Alexander was our young peoples leader, she said I should get a more plain dress so I took that pretty dress back and got me a long sleeve plain dress with a high neck. I was proud of it, but that first dress was so pretty. Sister Alexander is still living on the Texas campground, she is in her eighties, I saw her when Mary and Daphne took me back two years ago in August. She is a wonderful woman and taught me a lot about the Christian walk.
We moved back to Electra, that is where I grew up as a teenager. Willie Lee Darter was my best girl friend. We still exchange Christmas cards at Christmas, with a little note.
We went over to ? Nocona, Texas, then to ? Ducan, Oklahoma, on an oil field then worked back to Electra, then on to Celina, Texas. Before I tell you about Celina, I remember something else in ? Albany, we moved next door to a Christian Church. I went there a few times and was in a play there. That's where I met Dr. Wood and Mother had him when Bill was born there. His daughter and Mrs. Sloan and me would stand or sit in a porch swing and sing and sing all the little songs, Jesus Loves Me, Right in the Corner Where You Are, Bring Them In, lots of little songs, I've always loved singing. The little Sloan girl called her Grandmother, "Mother Sloan", that's why I taught Bryant to say "Mama Scott", because I thought it was so sweet, so I started all the Grandchildren calling Mother that.
Also, back in Arkansas, we went down to the creek to get water. Son and I one time was chased by a razorback hog. Somehow the hog got Sons pail over his head and ran off with it. I get tickled thinking about it. We also used to swing across a creek on grape vines, they grew real big and you could swing on them. We thought that the creek was real wide, but it probably was only a trickle. PRECIOUS MOMENTS Arkansas was the place Dad and the men had to use oxen to get their rigs where they wanted, it was swampy land.
Oh yes something else came to me. When we lived in ? Albany, Texas, we lived down the street from the school. Us kids would go there to play, but we wasn't supposed to. One day Mother sent me to the store which was on the other side of the school. On the way over, I just had to stop because some other children were playing there. Now Mother told me not to stop by the school but I did. The fire escape was on the outside of the building something like a slide and there was a rod across it near the end. Us kids would climb up by our hands almost to the top, then turn around and slide down, it was a lot of fun. Well this day I slid down and didn't set up fast enough after I went under the bar and fell and broke my ankle in three different places. The kids that was with me tried to get a man to take me home and I said no I'd walk but my foot turned over. So the man said he would carry me home. I wouldn't let him, I said it would scare Mother to death if she saw someone carrying me, so he finally talked me into letting him take me in his car. I disobeyed Mother so I really had to pay. During the time I had the cast on my ankle I got a boil on me right where I sat down, so I had to stay on my stomach on a cot. Daddy finally opened the boil with his straight razor, that was the kind he always used. He cut an X on it and it finally made it ok.
Also ? Albany, Texas, was where I got my worst whipping. You see I always went to the show on Saturday, you could go for a dime. The Ten Commandments was showing, so I went to see it, not only once but two or three times. It was dark and Mom and Dad didn't know where I was, they had sent me to the store, so finally Daddy found me in the show. He took me home and what a whipping, he took his belt off and I got one I'll never forget. While we was at ? Albany, us kids would go fishing. We would fix a hair pin on a string and fish in the little water holes left by the rain. We fished for crawdads, we got a lot of them. Mother would fix the tails, they were real good to.
We visited my Grandma in Hollis, Oklahoma, that's Dad's mother, about the same time I remember Grandma had a bunch of setting hens in the cellar. Glenn decided he would gather the eggs, was Grandma mad and also tickled to, he had messed up the different hens eggs. Grandma may have had the eggs marked, I don't know. Also one time we visited Grandma and us kids got the wagon and the hack out of the barn. A hack is a one set that you drove with horses. We would push them up a hill and hold the tongue up with a rope and ride down the hill. Boy when our folks saw what we was doing, they made us quit it because it was so dangerous.
Now I remember something else that happened when we was living in Madisonville, where Toy was born. The river was right down from the house, so the folks fished a lot. One day dad caught a spoon bill cat fish. Now my uncle Dock used to visit us and we would always have him some fish. We had a rain barrel at the corner of the house and Mother would wash with this water. Well Dad had me to take the fish by the spoon bill and take it to the house and put it in the rain barrel, it was alive when uncle Dock came. Mother got our nice little fish and cooked it for uncle Dock. We were really mad at him eating our little fish.
"Mom loved music, when she recorded this story of her life she inserted several songs. In this space she recorded a steel guitar playing Precious Memories." R.D.F.
Dad would try to teach us kids to swim. I remember when he would get the boys, Glen and Sonny on his back and swim across the river, then have them swim back. I never learned to swim even though I tried.
We moved to Celina, Texas, from Electra. Dad went out there to drill a wildcat well. When we got there, there was no Pentecostal church and sense everyone on Dads rig but one man was a Christian and some people that lived around there wanted to start a church so we started one in a store building on the square. That's where I met Eldred, he was Bryant, Daphne and Carl's Father. We lived about a block from him and his folks, so at night we would go up there and sing and play. He would sit on his front porch and play his guitar. That's when he taught me to play. We were out in the country three miles, that was way out. When it rained you couldn't get out of the rawhide as we called it, in a car. It was red clay like, so we went in the wagon. So Eldred and I did our courting in a wagon, to and from church, that was in the winter time. We got married February 12, 1932, I was 16 and he was 23. We lived in the country until Bryant was one year old. We had it rough during the depression days. Eldred made fifty cents a day. We moved into town, in a two room house with some friends. Mother and Daddy was living in town to, so pretty soon we moved in together, ten of us in a three room house. Can you imagine that. It wasn't long until Daphine was born on May 28, 1936, that made eleven. We soon moved to La Mesa, Texas, Carl was born there October 8, 1938. About the whole family lived together there. Mr. and Mrs. Sellers had two rooms, Eldred and I had one room, we had our bedroom and kitchen together. His brother and his wife had one room, his sister and her husband and baby had another room. We had three children when we lived there, all in that one house but it was quite big. We had outside toilets of course in those days.
Bryant was born February 1, 1933.
Daphne was born May 28, 1936.
Carl was born October 8, 1938.
Norbert was born October 21, 1946.
Roger was born April 30, 1950.
Eldred got a job at the La Mesa Meat Company, so we moved out to the cow pens. It was out in the country about two or three miles. We moved into a house that had three rooms and it had a little room that was supposed to be a bathroom but hadn't put it in yet. That was big to us. That's when I got my first bedroom suit that Norby and Lydia has now. Oh I thought that was the prettiest bedroom suit and we got new linoleum for the floor. We were so happy and so proud of that. That was November and it was December 7th that they bombed Peal Harbor and started the war, the war was really already going on.
That was December 7th, 1941. So in 1942 we decided to go to California and Eldred was going to work in the defence plants or something like that. So when we got out here he helped build the Navel hospital over at Norco. And in 1942 in December he got hurt on Christmas Eave and he lived until the 3rd of January.
From there we moved to Pomona. I moved Daddy and Mother and my little family moved to Pomona. I worked at the consolidated laundry. In 1944 I met Earl, I was going to church with his cousin. He invited him over to our church and so that's where I met Earl. So on June the 30th, 1945 we were married and moved out to 1648 East 7th Street. In the little house, we finally got a little trailer house for the boys. And that was where Norbert was born on October 21, 1946. And then Roger was born on April 30, 1950, still at 1648 East 7th Street.
When Earl father died, we moved to 1662 East 7th Street. Amon died in 1953, his wife Dora died in 1950. So we moved over to the big house and we lived there 27 years. We moved from there to the front house at 1646 East 7th Street. We lived there about four and one half years. And then I moved over to Cletus's house in 1984. That address is 1684 and I moved over here in 1984. Earl past away on November 16, 1982 and he was buried in the Pomona cemetery. Earl and Eldred were buried in the Pomona Cemetery.
Well we have lived in four houses on the south side of East 7th Street, Pomona. I'm living now in Cletus's house and I love it so much here, It's real nice place to live. I hope that I don't have to leave this street because I've lived here so long and I really enjoy this.
Mom sings, " He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am His own *****"
I want to tell you something about your grandparents, Dad Scotts father was William Scott, he was born in 1854 in Alabama and died in 1920. His mother was Lizzi Ann, Born in Texas and died in 1932. Now this is Mama Scotts father, Alexander Morrow, born in 1857 and died in 1908. Her mother was Sarah Jane Johnson born in 1857 and died on 1915, she died the same night I was born. Daddy Scott was born on April 13, 1895 in Handley or Grand Prairie, Texas. It is a little undecided there on which town it was. He died on September 3, 1970. Mama Scott was born on November 11th, 1897 in ??, Hunt County, Texas. She died on September 12th, 1974, they are both buried at Rose Hills, Whittier, California.
Now Roger, you asked me about my childhood and I've told you about everything that I can think of right now. Well I have good memories about my childhood and now I think about all the spacial days that come along and all the children that come by visiting with me. On the special holidays its seems like it is family time to get together. Like this Christmas on Christmas Eve we were all together and Christmas we were all together, most all of us was together and it is such happy occasions with such love between our little family group and I just thank the Lord for that. I think this is what makes me so happy. It's because He has been with me and let our little family love each other.
You know I have thought about it a lot of times. If I go by the way of the grave, why I'll be absent from this body but I will be present with the Lord or if He comes and I go with the rapture well that will be a happy time for me. Because I believe that its not going to be long until He comes for us.
"He's coming soon, He's coming soon,
With joy, we'll welcome His returning,
It may be morn', it may be night or noon,
We know, He's coming soon,"
There is one more thing that I wanted to say about Norby and Roger. Norby and Roger will remember this but for the sake of the children I will just add it to this tape because I have a little bit of room. I remember the two kids out here on this acre or a little less than an acre of land out here. You two kids liked to play out back with your friends. You would dig trenches through the ground and make tunnels, great big long ones. You would cover them over with tin and camouflage them, with dirt and trees limbs and things. It's a wonder they hadn't caved in or something, but you kids were having fun with it. Then Roger, you was older when you built the tree house back there in the old eucalyptus tree. You made a pretty good tree house out there you even put lights in it and I sure hated to see that come down from there when they took it down, but some of the children from the back street coming up there and playing up there and we was afraid that they might get hurt on it so we did tear the tree house down later.
Well I don't know what I'll put on the back side unless I should put Christmas songs on it because this is finishing up close to Christmas and I think Christmas songs will be more appropriate than about anything that I could put on the back side.
Bernice B. Fortner
This is a copy of Bernice Fortner's notes for the recording she made. This is a combination of the recording and her notes. She loved Christmas, and left us a tape full of Christmas songs on the back side.