Friday, June 28, 2013

The Ultimatum

by Audrey L. Barclay

Bill Glover came leaping down the stairs, taking the steps two at a time until he looked up and saw his mother watching him, a speculative gleam in her eye. With only one more bounce to reach bottom, he stopped, laid the box of candy he carried on the newel post, and carefully readjusted his tie before sedately taking the remaining two steps.

He knew from her expression that his mother had something on her mind, but was hardly prepared for what was to follow. Finally, in sternest don't-you-lie-to-me tone of voice, Mrs. Glover asked her handsome, dark-haired son, "Where are you going all dressed up, Bill?"

Though it was but the middle of the week, Bill was dressed in his Sunday best for his date with the recently rediscovered playmate of his toddler days, Velma Denny. He knew his mother disapproved of Velma--she'd already expressed her disapproval as soon as she had learned Bill was seeing her. Nevertheless, he told her, "I'm going to see Velma."

Letting the paper she'd been reading fall to the floor beside her, she asked, "What, again?"

Considering a moment, Bill replied, "Yes, I am."

The words were spoken calmly, but inside the young man's heart was suddenly pounding wildly. The time had come, he knew, to declare his independence.

"Don't do it, Bill ... "

Bill interrupted, "And why not, may I ask?"

He had tried to be patient and respectful, but Mrs. Glover was beyond being reasonable. Her temper flared and she fairly shouted, "Because you know I don't like her!"

Bill countered with a flippant "So what?"

The angry woman seemed to have forgotten that her son was no longer a little boy; he was a man, with all the rights and privileges thereof. She knew she could no longer dominate him, yet she had to try once more. She began to sputter, "Bill Glover, don't you speak to me like that!"

Bill asked, "Mom, why don't you like Velma?"

The spiteful reply shocked him. "Because she's not good enough for you, that's why!"

"And I say she is." Bill remembered when once the two families had been next-door neighbors. He vaguely remembered how he had helped his tiny playmate learn to walk, helping her to hr feet when she lost her balance and fell, wiping dirt and ears from her baby cheeks. Then his father, an insurance salesman, had been promoted to a higher position in the company and Mrs. Glover had insisted they move to a location more in keeping with their new prestige. By stretching mightily to hang onto the higher rung in the ladder of success they had grown away from the old friends.

After a moment of speculation, Bill told his mother, "I happen to think she is. She's a lovely person."

Her voice rising another octave in her fury, the angry woman shouted, "She is not, and you're not to see her anymore!"

"If you'd only tell me why not ... " began Bill.

The only answer he got was a repetition of the statement that Velma wasn't good enough for him, to which Bill replied, "She is, and I'm going to marry her, if she'll have me."

Brushing his dark hair back from his smoky blue eyes now gleaming with bitterness in his pale face, Bill picked up the box of chocolates from the newel post and strode toward the door. He wanted only to put an end to the ugly scene.

Mrs. Glover, seeing her son about to shed his shackles, once more screamed to his departing back, "Don't you argue with me! I'm your mother."

Reaching the door, Bill turned the knob, then, speaking over his shoulder, he said, "I'm a man now, Mother, and old enough to make my own decisions."

Then, seeing Bill step through the open door, she issued her ultimatum: "If you go to see that girl again, don't bother coming back to this house."

Bill looked back at his mother for a long moment, unable to believe he'd heard the words she'd spoken. Then, raising his dark head high, he said, "Okay. If that's the way you want it. I'm sorry you feel as you do. I'll send for my things." He closed the door softly behind him and never knew about the bitter tears that drenched the cheeks of his heartbroken mother as she crumpled to the floor, as yet too proud to acknowledge her mistake.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Doctor, Our Friend

by Audrey Barclay

Dr. Arthur Knabb is one of the noblest men I have ever met and one who has spent all of his adult life serving humanity right here in our own city. The only time he wasn't available was during World War I when he was serving his country overseas.

All too often we fail to express our appreciation for such services until it is too late -- then we eulogize them to the skies. I'd like to pay my respects publicly, while he is yet around to receive them. I'm sure there are many who will join me in this tribute.

I doubt if there are many physicians who can equal, much less surpass, the record Dr. Knabb holds in our family. He has, since I first met him in the home of  relative in 1916, attended five generations of us. I had hoped, when our eldest granddaughter came for a visit a few years ago, that her infant son would be "ripe" for a routine shot of some sort thus making a sixth generation. However, he'd had his quota so it was not to be.

Dr. Arthur was attending my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Z.T. West, when my family came to Springfield. So my parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Brower, automatically adopted him as their physician. It was not until he returned from the service, in 1919, barely in time to attend me when the first of our nine children arrived, that I, too, became a regular patient -- and I do mean "regular." He attended me at the birth of seven of our nine children -- including a pair of twin boys. We missed connections, timewise, for the other two. After all, he did have a FEW other patients.

Our children grew up idolizing our Dr. Arthur, and on an occasion or two, when it was necessary to call on another doctor for a small emergency, it was somewhat embarrassing. Such as the time, for instance, when one of the boys had a badly infected "boil" on his arm, and his daddy took him to another doctor. After a quick look, the doctor picked up a small instrument, turned to the child and announced, "That's got to be lanced." To the father's consternation, young nine-year-old Paul backed off and said: "Oh, no you don't! Dr. Arthur can, but you can't."

Our children, of course, made the fourth generation, and when they were grown and starting families of their own, they, too, relied on the faithful doctor until he had delivered several of the fifth generation. Then, time and circumstances (mostly when they began to scatter during World War II) broke the chain so far as our children were concerned, although they still love and respect him.

I could write a book about the experiences we shared, some amusing, others heartbreaking. Of the former, one that stands out most vividly in my mind is the time I called the doctor to our home because of the illness of one of the other children and asked him to examine another of the boys, who had a bad speech impediment -- when he spoke at all, which was not often. We were quite distressed, thinking the child was tongue-tied, and that he must go through life with the problem. Then, I read somewhere that the condition could be corrected, so I thought it a good time to ask advice on the matter. Dr. Arthur carefully examined the child, asking a few pertinent questions, then turned to me with a sly grin and said, "No, he's not tongue-tied. His tongue is as loose as a woman's." He ducked away in an exaggerated way as if he expected me to start swinging. His wonderful sense of humor is not the least of his qualities. He was filled with compassion and pity and never too busy to offer them when the occasion called for it, nor to offer a prayer beside the bedside of a dying man.

Some of our experiences are too heartbreaking to dwell on, but some of the lesser ones I can now recall with a sense of amazement. I remember when the twins were about six months old and they, (Nos. 6 and 7), together with the son just older, got whooping cough. Two weeks later the entire seven of them also contracted measles! Dr. Arthur came every day for two weeks or more and gave shots to the three babies to avoid the possibility of pneumonia. We didn't have all the "miracle" drugs then that are now so common.

A few years later, after the last of our nine was two or three years old, (I suppose the Barclays must have started this population explosion about which there is so much discussion now), the whole tribe -- with the exception of the middle child -- came down with the mumps. Talk about a SWELL time! Fortunately, there were no ill after-effects, and we can laugh about it now!

The story would not be complete without a brief resume of the other side of the picture.

As everyone knows, the Knabbs were a family of doctors. I claim the honor of having been attended, at various times, by three generations of them. It began shortly after my marriage in 1918, during the epidemic of influenza that was then sweeping the continent. It was necessary that I call a doctor, and, since Dr. Arthur was in service, his father, Dr. Enoch Knabb, was called to attend me, making the first generation of them to serve me. Then, [when] Dr. Arthur suffered a heart attack a few years ago and was out of service for a time, I found it necessary to consult a physician on a serious matter so, of course, I went to his son, Dr. Kenneth, who has attended me ever since, making three generations of the family to have been my personal physician -- and friend, I trust.

Now it seems but right and proper that I pay my tribute to a real gentleman:  Thank you, and God bless you, Dr. Arthur Knabb, for your kindness, courtesy and great Christian heart. I wish there were more like you!


Editor's Note: The above article is one that Grandma did get published. Click on the image below to see how her words looked in newsprint.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Audrey's Angels

Yesterday we received the sad news that Olan Barclay passed away suddenly over the weekend. Olan was the son of Audrey and Erna Barclay.

Olan Barclay in Springfield, Missouri - July 1996.

Olan's twin brother, Alan, was the first of Audrey and Erna's children to follow his parents to the great hereafter, which he did in January 1996:

Alan Barclay in Springfield, Missouri - December 1948.
(No more recent photo available.)

The next of the nine Barclay siblings to join them was my own father, Paul, in September 1997:

Paul Barclay in Hanford, California - August 1997

It was eight and a half years before we lost another one. That time it was Wayne in February 2006:
Wayne Barclay in Springfield, Missouri - July 1996

In November 2011 the eldest of Audrey and Erna's children, Nina Barclay Beatie, left this earth to join her parents and three of her brothers:

Nina Barclay Beatie in Springfield, Missouri - July 1996

We miss all of these people and will remember them always, but today it's Olan's wife and children who are foremost in our thoughts. To them we extend our love and our deepest condolences.

We will hold you in our hearts.


P.S. Sorry if this is an inappropriate place to say this, but take a second look at the picture of Alan. When I was an adolescent, I was excited that he was related to me. I thought he could pass for a third Everly Brother.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Notes About Childhood Events

Editor's Note No. 1:
Yesterday, after I finished transcribing Grandma Audrey's essay about the term "Senior Citizen," I turned the stapled pages over and found the following notes she'd written on the back of the last page. There was a list included in those notes, and many of the items on it had been crossed out. 

Not to get too technical, but the blog template I'm using for Audrey's Ambition doesn't accept the standard html code that would let me strike through the same words Grandma (I assume) did, so I've compensated for that by making those words red. 

Anyway, here's what she wrote:


by Audrey Barclay

I lay awake a few nights ago recalling, in my mind's eye, other mem other events of my life in Stotts City, many of which I hadn't tho't [about] for years. Among them were these: Burning baby, funeral flowers, music lessons, scholarship, colt, cleaning cisterns, miner and the measles, country school. Walking typhoid -- 1st quilt top. Halley's Comet, inferiority complex -- Denver, Chester -- Halloween -- Who's what, and why in Mo. -- church activities, political -- schoolteachers. WW1 -- R.R. strike. WW2 -- dolls -- Hallowe'en in S. City. Grandma's knitting, caskets & wagon wheels -- strawberry crates. Writing -- Plays & other programs. K.K.s in 1920s -- Lillard fire -- Cherry St. farm. Division St. home. Mrs. Sears.


Editor's Note No. 2:
I wonder if Grandma crossed off those topics after she wrote about them. If so, I wonder what happened to those stories. The topics intrigued me, so, in the absence of Grandma's version of events, I went looking to see what I could find on the Internet:

  • Click here, then scroll down the page to the "History" section and read about Stotts City, Missouri, where Grandma Audrey grew up.
  • It's probably not the exact "walking typhoid" story Grandma would have told, but Typhoid Mary was big news in 1908 when Grandma was a girl. Click here to find out more about Mary Mallon.
  • Halley's Comet made a rare appearance in 1910. Click here to learn why Grandma might have thought this would make a good story.
  • I Googled "wwi stotts city missouri" and was rewarded with a fascinating article about a World War I medal winner who lived in Stotts City at the same time Grandma did. His name was Charles D. Barger. Click here to read about him.
Okay, folks, that ought to keep you busy for a while.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

From the National Federation of Guilt Dispensation, A. Barclay, Chairperson

Untitled Essay
by Audrey Barclay

Senior Citizens. I don't think I care much for the appellation, even tho' I fall in that category myself. It's only a sop to ease guilty consciences of those who claim it is meant to add more dignity to those who have grown old, but to whom aged parents--perhaps--or others have become a drag on their own activities, a ball-and-chain.

Naturally, age has a way of slowing down physical activities, but age alone does not dim the mind; often mental faculties become sharper with age if not affected by disease. And who is to say exactly when an individual becomes a "Senior Citizen"? Is it when he becomes eligible for retirement for his work, a specific age, but continues to work for pay, or the lady who becomes widowed a few years before she is old enough for Social Security or a widow's pension based on her husband's retirement plan? Just when?

I've known many who, age-wise, have many years to go before retirement, yet their actions would indicate they must be eighty if they're a day. I also know any number of people who have lived long beyond the Biblical three-score years and ten who are as active and alert as anyone. And intriguing company for the stories of the past they sometimes relate. I'm thinking now of a pair of sisters whom I shall call Julia and Donna. Both are in their eighties, Donna being eighty-eight. They are the darlings of our church. Donna has had to yield largely to illness, altho' she does get out on special occasions, and frequently calls some of us just to visit via telephone. Julia is spry as the proverbial cricket and full of fun and good humor. She seldom misses being in her place in church on Sunday. It's true they had a heritage of longevity. Their mother celebrated her 109th birthday. She was 102 when she walked down the aisle to present herself for membership in our church after moving into our community.

Only a month ago a man I've known nearly 60 years suffered a broken leg, developed pneumonia, and died. He was a physician and had continued practicing until 6 mos. previously. He was 85 years old. A Senior Citizen? You bet! But not in the sense in which the designation is generally used.

Last night a long-time friend called me for some assistance. She is nearing 76, but still very active in her church. She is in the process of preparing a program for a special service and, knowing my interest in old songs, she tho't I might help her with one she wished to use in her program. (Fortunately, I could.)

From my own observation I'd say there are about as many aches and pains attacking the younger generations as we oldsters have to contend with, and they groan just as loudly and long. I contend a pain is a pain, whomever--and wherever--it hurts, so why get all up-tight if an old person complains?

Yes, I'm definitely opposed to being categorized as a "Senior Citizen," when I'm just a lonely old woman who sometimes yearns for an evening--or afternoon--of attention--well, entertainment, if you will--from someone of my many offspring. I enjoy games as much as the next fellow, I enjoy matching wits with younger people, but do I ever get the chance?

They talk about evenings of games with friends, but when I'm invited into one of the homes simply because it's time to fulfill a parental obligation--huh uh. I'm made to realize I'm only that ball-and-chain, to be cast aside at the earliest possible moment. I suppose that's why it gags me to be called a "Senior Citizen." Why not just stick to the old way and call us "old people"?

The various clubs that have been formed for our benefit are only to keep us out of the way of younger people, like quieting an infant with a rattle or a teething ring. It eases consciences and makes those promoting the project feel very proud of their strategy. But how many are there who really reap any benefits from such clubs? There are far more who, like myself, are unable to participate in such activities. Transportation is my big problem, as I'm sure it must be of others. I couldn't support a car on my meager income, nor can I afford taxi fare. And it's too far to walk!

No doubt I'd enjoy a session with one of the club groups now and then, but there are other activities I'd like to attend, if only someone cared enough to accompany me two or three evenings a year. There are concerts and plays, but I dare not go out alone at night.

The only recreation I have is TV, and I never turn that on during the day. I sit alone in the evenings with one eye on the set and play solitaire until I'm bored stiff. I like to read, but visual problems prevent much of that.

Senior Citizens? Bah! Sour grapes? Perhaps. But people, a small amount of attention--and please, for love's sweet sake rather than because it's a duty--might someday pay big dividends when you become an OLD man or woman yourself. As you surely will, if you live long enough.


Editor's Note: Please know that I meant no disrespect when I titled this post. It's just that all of Grandma Audrey's writings we've read up until now (with the exception of "The Doll Story") have shown the lighter, happier side of her personality. Not to discount Grandma's complaints in this essay (she made some good points), but the peevishness of it just tickles me. I realize I was only 16 the last time I saw her, but it feels so darn good to finally, finally read something she wrote that reflects a different side of her personality I remember. Grandma was a real person, with real feelings, and, as I recall, she didn't hesitate to share them. If this is a place where we're all going to get to know her better through her own words, let's appreciate her for who she really was--warts and all.

I also think Grandma's sense of humor was probably sharp enough that she could take a joke, so unless you tell me I'm wrong about that (and maybe even if you do), I'll keep that smart-alecky title and up the ante a little bit: Click here to listen to the song that began to play in the back of my mind about midway through this essay.

And, yes--before you feel the need to point it out to me--I know:  I'm already 70, and I might one day eat these words. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

If They're the Famous Side of the Family, Does That Make Us the Infamous Ones?

The other night I watched a movie on television specifically because it starred an actor named Troy Garity. Oh, and Sissy Spacek, you probably all know her. Now, if you don't know who Troy Garity is, you may be wondering why I decided to tell you about his movie here on a blog that's dedicated to my Grandma Audrey. I'll explain:

Troy Garity is the son of actress Jane Fonda and grandson of her equally famous father, Henry Fonda. And if you're related to Audrey Smith Barclay, then you're also related, albeit very distantly, to Troy and Jane and Henry and Jane's actor brother, Peter, and Peter's actress daughter, Bridget.

I discovered our connection to the Fonda family a few years ago when I was reading Peter Fonda's autobiography, Don't Tell Dad: A Memoir, and came across a name that was familiar to me from studying our own family history. That name sent me running down a trail that eventually led back to one Douwe Jellise Fonda and his wife, Rebecca Conyn, who turned out to be Audrey's seventh-great-grandparents on her father's side. Among Douwe and Rebecca's children were a daughter, Hester (Audrey's sixth-great-grandmother), and a son, Jillis (the sixth-great-grandfather of Jane Fonda). That makes Audrey Lou Smith Barclay and Jane (Lady Jayne Seymour) Fonda eighth cousins--no "removes" despite the difference in their ages. (Jane's ancestors evidently didn't "go forth and multiply" as rapidly as ours did.)

Here's a little chart I put together to show you the lineage of both Audrey and Jane. You'll probably need to click on it to enlarge it:

Note:  To print a full-page copy of this descendant chart, click here.
When the chart appears in a new window, click on its little printer icon.

Does this information suddenly pique your interest in Fonda films? I thought it might. If you'd like to know more about Henry Fonda, you can click here. If you want to know more about Jane, you can click here to read a bio or here to watch an interview she did three months ago. As for Cousin Troy, who unknowingly prompted this post, he's a fine young actor. His movie, Lake City, was very good, and you can watch the trailer for it by clicking right here.

One more thing:  if this is the first time you've heard about this family connection, please don't feel as if you've been left out of the loop. I'm pretty sure the Fondas aren't aware of it yet, either. They're gonna be so excited!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Doll Story

by Audrey Barclay

When I was seven years old, I was given a doll for Christmas by my favorite uncle and aunt.

It was a beautiful doll, with long, golden curls, and blue eyes that closed in sleep when I held her in my arms like a real baby.

She was much the finest doll I had ever owned--so fine in fact, that Mother only permitted me to play with her on very rare occasions. In between times she hung, like a picture, from a nail in the wall, held up by a ribbon tied around her middle.

One day, as I was enjoying the privilege of holding her in my arms, my younger sister, aged two and a half, set up a howl to play with my doll, and went into such a fit of temper that Mother reluctantly gave in, and said she might hold it awhile. Being so angry, her small hands had no sooner closed on the doll than it went sailing across the room, to land with a sickening thud against the wall. The beautiful head fell in pieces on the floor.

Had it been an accident I think I might have forgotten, in time. As it is, even though my sister and I are grandmothers now, and love each other dearly, I still find it hard to recall that incident without a deep feeling of bitterness and resentment.


Editor's Note:  If you've already read the previous post, you know that Nina Barclay Beatie remembered "the doll story," too. The gist of Nina's story was the same as Audrey's, but some of the minor details were different--which is exactly what happens to most family stories as they're passed down orally from generation to generation. 

Were there significant incidents in your life that you'd like your descendants to know about? Write 'em down, people!

About Audrey's Birth Family

How about a little family history? Nina Barclay Beatie, Audrey's eldest daughter, shared some of it with me in an informative, entertaining email on March 26, 2006. Here, with minor edits for clarity and a few pictures sprinkled in for good measure, is what Nina wrote:

"Ernest Ray Smith was the son of Amy and [Samuel] Smith who came from Pennsylvania after the Johnstown Flood and settled in Stone County (Galena) Mo. There were several children, including Ernest Ray, Arb and Omar, adults.

Samuel S. Smith, Audrey's paternal grandfather.

Amy Lucinda (Hagadorn) Smith, Audrey's paternal grandmother.

In later years (left to right):
Arba, Anna (Omar's wife), Amy, Ernest, and Omar Smith

"Ernest was a carpenter and so was his father. They traveled around the country doing construction. They built the high school in Stotts City where Grandma [Minnie] West Brower lived with her family. The men all worked in the lead mines in that area. Minnie West (Mom's mother) met Ernest there, I think, while his parents lived in Galena on a farm they homesteaded. Their sons, Arb and Omar, were deaf mutes. They sent them to a school for the deaf in Iowa where Omar met and married a woman also a student there. They traveled on to California where he and Anna established a very lucrative real estate business. Arb came home to live until his parents both died, and Ernest stayed there on the 40-acre homestead and took care of him until his death. That occurred after [Ernest] and Minnie were parents of Audrey Lou Smith.

Ernest Ray Smith (Audrey's father)

Minnie Lee West Smith Brower (Audrey's mother)

"[Ernest] liked his home brew a bit too much for Minnie, and she divorced him for that reason when Mom was just a very small child. Minnie claimed that she married Ernest so that her parents would have one less mouth to feed. Great reason. Anyway, she turned around and married Harve Brower, a lead mine worker. Sad to say, he was also a boozer. But she stayed with him through the birth of 4 more daughters. Maybe drinking is different if you truly love someone.

(Rear) Audrey Barclay
(Front) Harve, Etta, and Minnie West Brower
Harve Brower was Etta's father, Audrey's stepfather.

"[Minnie} left [Harve] about 1931 or '2. It was a funny sight when she came driving up in an old Model-T car in front of our house. She had never driven before but she coaxed that car from the farm in Fair Grove to our house and announced she had found Harve in the back forty with the woman from the neighboring forty. Mom and Dad took her in and she never married again.

"She had no money, so despite the fact she had 4 other daughters, she lived with us for a number of years. I am sure she earned her keep helping with the 9 of us. However, when FDR came up with the Social Security plan and made it possible for people like her to get a small pittance from the government (I think it was Harold who took her down to apply, although it was against her will), she wasn't going to accept charity. Don't know what she thought she was getting from Mom and Dad. Anyway, when she started getting checks, it was a paltry sum, but by the time she died, she was getting $60 a month.

Audrey with her mother and four stepsisters.
Front row (L-R): Minnie, Neva, Irma
Back row (L-R): Velma, Etta, Audrey

"Aunt Etta had gone to the farm and gathered up some of [Minnie's] personal things and enough furniture that she rented two rooms in a home and set up housekeeping. Mom and Dad took out a small burial policy on her, so just in case something happened they could pay their share of her final expenses. She lived there for a number of years. Her other girls were able to keep her in clothing. Christmas and birthdays she always got quality clothes, coats, shoes and such from the girls. When she died, she had accumulated savings enough to pay for her burial from Social Security. Now that is money management.

"Don't think she ever went hungry during that time. She was one person I know who could go into a kitchen and come up with a delicious meal with very little. She could make the most delicious biscuits and gravy, coconut cakes, fried chicken, et cetera. She was a God fearing woman and attended church regularly. She had very little joy in her life but she was so bitter about Ernest that she deprived Mom of any interaction with her dad.

"After Mom and Dad were married, Mom learned that [Ernest] did not abandon her. He went on to California to work in the construction field and made good money. He used to send money for Mom, and [Grandma] would return it. He also sent things to Mom and Grandma would not let her have them. One year he sent a beautiful doll to her for Christmas, but Grandma would not let her play with it. She hung it up on a wall like it was a picture, and one of Mom's sisters wanted to play with it. Grandma refused, but Etta threw something at it and knocked it off the wall and broke it. Mom never forgot that incident, nor did she let Etta forget it.

"I was just a small child when Mom got a letter from [Ernest] asking if he could come to Springfield to see her. She was so thrilled, and from then on Grandma had no say in that relationship. By that time he had returned from California to Galena to take care of his brother. We would drive down there sometimes on Sunday, and he was always thrilled. Another thing he did was that he always sent a birthday card with a dollar bill enclosed to each of us kids. He was a kindly person, and he made his own home brew, which he bottled and tied the bottles together with rope and kept in the well to keep them cool. He was so well traveled that he kept us fascinated with some of his stories. When he died, he left that 40-acre homestead to Mom. She later sold it. But that was her only legacy."