|Maryon White's Memories of her Mother, Twyla, June 1, 1992||When I started to work on these memory books, I warned you that there would much repetition and overlapping, possibly some distortions of fact due to misunderstanding or misinterpreting the material, but certainly no intentional flights of fancy. I'm pleased that you are bearing with me, and adding to the legend of each of these very special people. As I begin to write about my own dear Twyla, I feel that I've already told you nearly all I know, but I can almost hear some of you saying, "There will never be a day when Maryon White runs out of words!"
Twyla Mae Smith was the youngest child of Josiah and Eliza [Fox] Smith. She was born December 31, 1903, and from the moment of her birth was cherished and sheltered by her brothers and sisters, if not by her parents. I truly believe that, even though Ethel was only 10 years older than Twyla, she was more a mother than Eliza.
Twyla was born in Chariton, Iowa, but had no memories dating back to that period. By the time she was ready to start school, the family had moved to Red Oak, and I've told you of the lovely experiences presented by Jennie Kelly! No wonder Twyla always hated school. Twyla was listed in the 1910 census as a resident or Red Oak, so it was some time after that that they went to Wright, Minnesota.
Twyla could remember the names of the people who provided a sort of shed for the family to live in while Harry and Josiah build a house. She could remember the names of her schoolmates, and could remember every work of a song the Russian children taught her. It must have been something like "99 Bottles of Beer on a Wall, etc. etc.," because she said they would sing madly for a while, then stop, catch their breath, say "This is a very long song!" and away they would go again.
And you know about Eliza taking the children and leaving Josiah; going to Chariton first; then appealing the Ethel and Bryan for help; they moved to Red Oak; and finally Eliza going to Sioux City and leaving her three youngest children for Ethel and Bryan to raise and to support. There may be more to this turn of events than I know about, but in any case, they did a darn good job!
I've told you that Gus went to Sioux City and Twyla was sent to Wyoming when Bryan and Jack went into the service, and that
Twyla met Bill White when she went to visit Eliza, Grace and Gussie after Twyla returned from Wyoming. Having once broken up housekeeping, the family never again had what could be called a "home." Bryan, Jack, Ethel and Twyla lived in rooming houses and ate their meals at a restaurant. I thought Ethel was in Red Oak all the time from 1917 until 1922, but she tells me that she spent almost a year with Bertha somewhere along the line. That must have been the time when Twyla got thoroughly upset because her brothers were both overly protective about the young men she could or could not go out with. I guess they thought they knew more about said young gentlemen than she did.
It must have been one big shock to them when Twyla and Bill eloped to Fremont, Nebraska. Those sales crews never stayed in one town for very long, maybe 4-6 weeks at most, and even if Bill came back to Red Oak from the next stop, they could not have known one another very well. (no jokes about traveling salesmen and farmer's daughters, please!!!)
For the first 18 months of their marriage, Twyla traveled along with the crew living in hotels or rooming houses and eating in restaurants. In November of 1923, Twyla and Bill went to Wyoming to be with Ethel when Doris was born. When Twyla discovered that she herself was pregnant, Bill and Twyla rented a small apartment in Omaha. Eliza stayed with Twyla much of the time, and this was the period when Twyla spent so many days with Aunt Emma and baby Lee. There were only 18 months difference between Maryon and Donald and somewhere along the line Twyla and Bill rented a small furnished house where Twyla lived until Donald was about 4 months old. This is the time when Elmer was so helpful bringing food and fuel to a young family much in need.
From April of 1926 to the fall of 1930, the family led a very gypsy like existence. Bill's territory included the lower parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. These crews really moved around. You can imagine trying to take care of 2 little kids in such a situation. Twyla told of doing the family laundry (including diapers) in hotel bathtubs! Remember hotel rooms in those days did not have private bathrooms. She did not have to do sheets or towels and their wardrobes were very limited for many rea$on$, but it still must have been an awful job.
When it was time for Maryon to go to school, Twyla and Bill tried to adopt a more normal life style, but, since Bill was on the road so much of the time, it was difficult. Frequent moves became standard-kindergarten in Minneapolis, 1st and 2nd grades in Sioux City, 3rd grade in Wyoming, 4th in Iowa, 5-7 in Fargo, 8 in Des Moines and high school in Denver. And still two more moves to make-to Milwaukee for two years, and finally to Spokane in 1947.
Because of all this moving about, none of us became very proficient in making friends. We were pretty much of a closed corporation except for the time when our home and hearts were open to relatives and friends. You know that Eliza spent a lot of time in our home. On several occasions, Doris Taylor was a part of our family. She came to Des Moines for the first year of high school (there were no school buses way back then), but returned to Wyoming when her parents left the ranch. When she graduated from high school, she came to Denver to go to business school. She stayed with us for awhile, they shared an apartment with friends. And when we moved to Milwaukee, she came along to go to Marquette University School of Dentistry to prepare as a dental hygienist. A friend of Twyla Larson lived with us for a year, and we were always glad for visits of any length by family and friends.
You know of all the help we received in the early years, and there is not much point in dwelling on that. When I look back on the mistakes I made in the past, I try to tell myself that I did the best I could at the time. So I believe that, when Bill failed to return for his family at the end of the summer in 1933, it was because he had no job, no money and no car. He felt we were better off where we were, and he felt lucky to get a job working for a farmer for his board and room. Why he left us in Iowa, I don't know. He had a job and a car and sent some money. From 1936 or 37 or whenever it was that we moved to Fargo, everything was OK. Bill had a new job (selling vacuum cleaners). He still had to travel a lot, but we had a home and furniture of our own for the very first time.
We moved to Des Moines in 1938 and while we were there less than a year, it was my first chance to meet some more Smith relations. Several of Twyla's aunts were there: Mae McKelvey, Orpha Fox, and Cora Downard: also several of her cousins-Fern and Faye (daughters of Clara Wood), Icyle Downard, Becky something or other and several others. The only ones who really treated us nice were Fern Wood Child (2 of her kids still live in Des Moines-the daughter has multiple sclerosis like Ruth Taylor) and aunt Mae McKelvey. After we moved to Denver, we suddenly because very popular and most of them came to visit us at least once.
The very first summer in Denver, Donald went to the ranch to stay with Taylors. This was a continuation of his love affair with animals and country living. To live on a ranch was the only thing he ever wanted from that time forward.
Twyla always said that the years in Denver were the happiest time of her life, and, the end of her days felt that if I would take her back to Denver, our troubles would disappear. After living in two more rented homes in Denver, Twyla and Bill finally bought their very first own home ($4,500.00!). Some of you may remember 2710 S. Lafayette St. (a small white house on a corner lot.)
It was while we here in Denver that Josiah died. Even though Eliza had left Josiah, she was still his legal heir since they were not divorced and he did not leave a will. Josiah had not paid the taxes on the ranch for several (maybe many) years, and Eliza was notified that the property was going to be sold for back taxes. My brother, Donald, had already fallen in love with ranch life, and immediately began asking that some way be found to retain the property. Even then, there was not a habitable building on the property, but Donald had dreams. Apparently Bill White was the only one who could scrape up the money at that point. I don't remember all the legal details, but I remember something about getting the brothers and sisters to sign some kind of paper agreeing that Eliza could deed the place over to Bill if he paid the back taxes. Some signed, some did not, and I know there were hard feelings about this for lots of years. To some it seemed very petty, to others, apparently very important.
Dad continued to pay taxes on it for 25 years or more, and I did the same for another 25. Twyla always thought the property should eventually go to Bryan's kids since they were the only ones who had any connection to the place. However, last year, in a fit of selfishness, I decided it was time for me to be #1, so I sold it. I needed a new car and wanted some things for my apartment; I hadn't had a care free vacation for years and years; and I invested the remainder of the money in a way that would give me a little added income. I hadn't set foot on the place for at least 20 years. I hope everyone understands, however I am reminded of the old saying "People who matter will understand your actions, and people who don't understand, don't matter."
To get back to the story, by some strange twist of fate, it was not long until Taylors were in deep financial troubles. I told you about the drought, and grasshoppers and other elements that entered in. I truly believe that by this time Eil Taylor was totally "burned out" and not even a miracle would have kept him on that place. Certainly Bill White was in no position to work miracles, so the bank auctioned off all the livestock on the place (even John Taylor's beloved saddle horse), all the farm equipment, everything, I guess, except clothing and household necessities. It was a sad time. Once again, Bill White managed to gain title to the land for a relatively small amount.
And when Donald completed the 8th grade, June of 1940, he announced that he would not go to school any more. If Bill and Twyla didn't want to help him get established on the ranch, he would go work for someone else. Of course, he had Eliza's full support, so that summer, Twyla and Bill managed to get things operating once more. Eliza moved up there to keep house for Donald; Bill and Twyla bought a milk cow, some chickens, a couple of pigs, a team of horses and a few steers. Ethel cooperated fully, even sharing some of the household goods she still had. For all the time Eliza and Donald were on the ranch, she was an interested and helpful adviser. Bill had been born and raised on a farm and was not totally ignorant about farm (or ranch) work. I have always been grateful that for a few short years, my brother was able to do what he most loved. He was not "playing cowboy" or "dodging the draft!" This "love affair" started long before the US became involved in World War II.
He did wait to be drafted because he did not believe in war, but when he had to go, he volunteered to be a paratrooper because he wanted to save extra money to upgrade the ranch when he got out. It is ironic that he made it until April 30, 1945. May 8th was V-E Day, and it was not until many days later that we learned that he had been shot by a sniper during the Allies invasion into Germany from Norway. That delay made it even harder to accept.
In the meantime, Twyla and Bill and Maryon were happily involved in church work and in lodge work (Masons, Eastern Star and Job's Daughters) For the first time, we had friends, (not casual acquaintances) and I still write to some of them. We went to Moorcroft as often as possible. It was a real treat for us all.
I don't mean to sound critical of Twyla, but all her life she had accepted help from her brothers and sisters, at times even seemed to expect it as her right. Now she was able to help others. I don't think she was able to repay her siblings, but I believe kindness can and should be passed on to others. One of her really big kindness was to provide dinner to friends for about 6 months. The lady had fallen in the tub and suffered concussion and a slight fracture; the husband had asthma really bad. Every day, Twyla would prepare an enormous pot roast, or chicken pie, or homemade noodles and vegetable soup or something. Then she would pack a big box of stuff and drive it and me over to Evan's apartment. I was the delivery girl and carted that stuff up 2 flights of stairs. They were very appreciative and for many years after we left Denver, they made frequent trips to the cemetery to decorate the baby's grave (remember the still born baby girl in 1942.) So you see why I feel kindness begets kindness. This is only one example of Twyla's generosity and thoughtfulness.
I was in my senior year of high school when Pearl Harbor occurred. When I graduated, I went into nurse's training. It wasn't very long until vacuum cleaners became non-essential luxuries so Bill went to work selling cemetery lots (pre-need). It sounded pretty depressing to us at first, but no more so than selling life insurance, I guess. Anyway, it kept the wolf away from the door. I stayed in nurses' training for two years, but finally decided it was not for me. I didn't mind the hard work, the bedpans, the blood, etc, but I got too personally involved with patients and could not handle suffering and death. For the first and only time in my life I was slender-5'8" and 115 #!
I went to business school next, and though I never actually worked much in the business world, I was grateful for the training. Certainly the same could be said for my nursing experience.
In 1944, Bill was offered a good job in Milwaukee, (We sold the house for $12,000!!!!!) and also sold all our furniture which was a big mistake. I had finished my business course, so Bill and Twyla, Doris Taylor, Eliza and I started east. What a trip-one flat tire after another, trouble getting gasoline, even when we had coupons, even trouble finding places to sleep. We dropped Eliza off in Iowa and finally got to Milwaukee.
(Many of you younger folks will not understand the reference to "Coupons." During World War II, there were many shortages, gasoline and tires being only two such items. Tires never were rationed (just darned hard to find). Automobile owners were issued stamps and stickers for their gasoline needs. Somebody decided if you rated A, B, C, or truck stickers.
Meat and canned goods were also rationed. Everyone including children received ration stamp books, periodically. As I recall, red coupons were for meat, blue coupons were for canned goods. We also needed coupons to buy leather shoes, sugar and I don't remember what else.) Back to living in rented, furnished apartments, and lucky to find anything. Since Doris was to go to Marquette University, Twyla and Bill decided I should go also, not to the dental hygiene school, but college of liberal arts. It was during our first year in Milwaukee that Donald had his one and only leave. He had wanted to spend at least part of his 30 days in Wyoming, but Grandmother White was very, very ill and in fact died shortly after Twyla, Bill and Donald went to Indiana. Donald felt he was needed, so remained in the mid-west for the whole time.
Somehow things are not really clear in my mind during this period. It seems to me that Doris took Eliza back to Wyoming when school was out. Doris did not come back to Milwaukee to finish the dental hygiene course, but stayed in Wyoming and taught school there for one year, then married Amos Hall.
I don't know how or when Eliza got back to the Middle West, but she was with us in Milwaukee when she broke her hip. It must have been the winter of 1946. In March of 1947, Twyla and Bill moved to Spokane and I remained in Milwaukee to finish my school year. And sometime in the winter of 47-48, Donald's remains were returned to Wyoming. I really felt this was a very foolish thing to do, but Twyla and Bill wanted him buried in Wyoming. We drove back to Wyoming, and Bill wound up in the Gillette Hospital with pneumonia. After the service, and, when Bill was able to travel, we started home with Ethel, only to be snowbound for nearly a week with Ethel's friend in Gillette. That was another nightmare trip.
I graduated from college in 1949 (7 years after high school graduation) and started teaching in a small, poverty stricken mountain town. While I was there (2 years) Twyla had a complete hysterectomy, and began a long drawn out ordeal with her teeth. She had pyorrhea and had neglected it so long that much of the jaw bone was destroyed. The dentists insisted she go to the hospital to have her teeth extracted-in four installments. This took months because she had so much infection and was allergic to many antibiotics. In the next 20 years, she had seven sets of dentures made, each by someone who was supposed to be an expert and she couldn't wear any of them. Those of you who saw her in the last 15 years of her life know that she could not wear dentures at all. It seems to me that denture problems are very common in the Smith family. Ethel is about the only one who actually wears hers. Bertha's dentures were generally in her pocket, Bryan and Jack had problems, as did Gussie. And I know that some of my generation have suffered a lot. So this is another HEALTH BULLETIN to you youngies-Take good care of your teeth!
Twyla had a gall bladder operation in the '50s and was in a serious automobile accident that left her with a crippled leg. It seems to me that she was in and out of the hospital all the time-pneumonia, diabetic coma, suspected tumor on the pancreas which turned out to be ulcer scars when doctors did an exploratory operation. We had no medical, dental or hospital insurance, so finance was a problem for many years.
When I got a teaching job in Spokane in 1953, we bought our second home. Many of you remember 3303 W. Glass, a big, two story, brown shake house again on a corner lot (some people never learn!) This was when we finally sold the Taylor place, to help pay for the house.
Probably because of all the traveling he had to do as a younger man, Bill did not enjoy traveling in later years. He was always willing for Twyla and me to go wherever we wanted, so for about 12 years, Twyla and I had lots of trips together. These were far from care-free, however. I was always worrying about her health problems, but we went to Wyoming many times (sometimes twice a year,) several times to Iowa and to Calif. Dad would go with me to Portland (to see Jack and family) or Seattle where Bill and Hazel lived as well as Gloria Comingore (Bill White's niece)
I know that many people (including me) felt that Twyla was the boss in the family. Bill was quiet, Twyla was mouthy, but, in actual fact, things pretty much went as Bill decided. Twyla hated Spokane from the very first, but we stayed where Bill could make a living. It was not until Bill died in 1966 that I realized how very dependent we were upon his quiet strength. I did not know until after his death that for years he had been coming home several times a day to check on Twyla. She fell a lot, and had trouble hanging on to things because of numbness in her hands and feet. She was forever dropping the coffee pot full of hot coffee, or cutting herself all through the litanies of household accidents.
I remember one holiday she dropped the roaster when she tried to take the turkey from the oven. Mr. Turkey slid clear across the kitchen floor, bounced down three steps to the back door, and was on his way to freedom before we caught up with him! Bill told me to take Twyla to the living room while he retrieved the bird, wiped it off, and proceeded to carve it, while I attempted to swab the decks. From then, he not only did most of the dishing up of big dinners, but the clean ups as well. I know Bill Smith can verify this, since he was often on the business end of a dishtowel at our house.
It was such a shock when Bill died on December 22, 1966. Later I learned that all of the relatives at the Thanksgiving reunion in Portland that same year realized he was a very sick man. We knew his desire to be buried by Donald in Moorcroft, so, after a brief service here in Spokane, Twyla and I went to Moorcroft. My cousins, Gloria White Comingore and Hazel Smith Hamilton had come up from Los Angeles, and Bill Smith and his family came from Seattle. Just coming meant so much to us, and the real labor of love was that someone dismantled our Christmas tree and put all the packages away before heading homeward on Christmas Eve.
Just as 19 years before when Donald was buried, Wyoming had a typical mid winter blizzard. I was amazed that so many Smith relatives were there; Larsons and Kings from Iowa, Jack and Dorothy Smith from Rawlings, and of course, all the Moorcroft people. But none of the White family! It was hard for me to go from a state of arrested adolescence at age 42 to accepting the responsibility for my mother and myself. Fortunately, I received a lot of help from Ethel Taylor, Hazel Hamilton, Doris Taylor Montegna, Twyla Larson King, and most of all from one very good friend, Catherine Castagne. Many of you know her already, or know of her. She soon arranged things so that she could care for Twyla while I was at work. Soon Twyla started calling her "my other daughter." One day when Twyla was mad at me, she decided Catherine was her favorite daughter and so she remained for about 15 years. Now you have a relative you didn't know about!
We had sold our house on Glass after one year alone. I couldn't handle all the yard work, snow shoveling, etc, that Bill had done for years without complaining. Twyla said she was afraid, so we began a series of moves which nearly drove me batty. One place would be too cold, the next too hot, the next had a nosey landlady, then another place where Twyla was afraid etc. etc. Teaching was getting harder and harder to endure. I loved my job from 1949 to 1966. Suddenly, when I realized I had to hang onto it, I began to really hate it. Kids were getting pretty rambunctious, they were really into student rights, student government, drugs, and alcohol. If I had taught one more day, I'd have been in state penitentiary for murder or a mental hospital, or Moorcroft cemetery.
Serious health problems (both physical and emotional) forced me (or permitted me!!!) to retire at 55. I had a wonderful doctor who somehow managed to arrange for Social Security disability benefits. With my teacher's pension, we were all right financially, but the situation at home was very bad. Catherine continued to come nearly every day, but it was obvious that we just could not handle Twyla at home.
The hardest thing I ever had to do was to put Twyla in a nursing home in 1981. Doris Taylor came and stayed with me for three weeks, and helped me find a place and get Twyla settled. Toward the end of the three weeks, Twyla Larson King came and stayed for three weeks. Would you believe that Twyla King had hardly reached home when Twyla White talked me into bringing her home? In less than a week she was in the hospital again in a diabetic coma. The doctor said "no more games" and Twyla went back to the home Doris and I had selected.
The next few years are blurred in my memory. I myself wound up in the hospital several times with undetermined ailments. I managed to make solo trips to Wyoming twice. (Doris Taylor Montegna's funeral and our first reunion in 1982.) I also made a trip to Reno for the 1984 reunion. I was physically ill on all three occasions and also much upset emotionally because I felt guilty about leaving Twyla. But that is in the past.
By 1985 I realized I was in big trouble so Twyla and Bob King came from Iowa to help me find someplace for both Twyla and me. We decided on Riverview Retirement Home which has an adjoining Care Center (nursing home). They accepted both of us, and in the spring of 1986, we were able to move here. I have been so grateful that the Kings came when I needed them.
I have been so glad that in the summer of 1989, Ethel's granddaughter Vicki brought her out here to visit Twyla . I shudder to think what kind of tales Twyla laid on Ethel, but it was probably good for her to get it out of her system. Not so good for Ethel to listen to all that.
That very fall (1989) Twyla had to go into the hospital for major surgery. About the time she was ready to come home, she started having "minor strokes" which gradually became major. For the last several months of her life, she was unable to speak, but her mind seemed clear enough. I think I have a pretty good memory (or maybe imagination), but three periods in my life are pretty hazy. The year my brother Donald was killed, (1945), when Bill died in 1966, and when Twyla died in 1990. Every time my relatives were ready to help me through these difficult days.
Since I know what Twyla's wishes were-to be buried by Donald and Bill, I did that: a brief service (private) here in Spokane. [I] then sent her body to Wyoming for burial. I was all prepared for another blizzard as in 1947 and 1966, but Wyoming was incredibly beautiful; sixty degrees and sunny the day of the funeral.
The whole point of doing these memory books was to remind you that you are a part of a truly unique family. I hope that on into the future you will do everything you can to preserve this heritage of love and concern for your family members-no matter how remote. To me, that seems far more important than famous ancestors, family mansions or estates or inherited mega-bucks!!
I hope now that my cousins will pick this project up and write books about their own families. I will be happy to contribute what I can, but I cannot spearhead any more projects (And if that makes you glad, please don't say so!)
|Bill Smith's Memories of his Aunt Twyla, Vashon, Washington, July 5, 1992||My first memory of Aunt Twyla was in the suburb called Sunnyside in Sioux City, Iowa. I was 2-3 years old, probably about 1928-28. Whites lived in an apartment in Sunnyside; we lived in the suburb called Leeds. Dad worked for Perry Hanley, Aunt Grace's husband. I don't recall Uncle Bill being in the apartment. Donald and Maryon were there. Aunt Twyla was nice to us kids, but pretty soon we made so much commotion that she made all of us sit fixedly on chairs, probably a very good idea, but I will always remember that.
My next memory was when we lived in Grandpa and Grandma's place near Moorcroft, Wyoming and the Whites came for a visit, about 1932 approximately; the toughest of the tough times of the depression. Uncle Bill left his family to live with Grandpa and Grandma for approximately two years while he went to make a living. Jack and I played a lot with Maryon and Donald. Donald and I got in big trouble building a fire down under a little bridge that used to exist between the well and the barn immediately south of Grandpa and Grandma's house. We had great fun in the woods and at the spring up the crick about 200 yards. Maryon called the place where the spring was, the "Birdie place" or the "Pretty Place."
Next memories are when Aunt Twyla and Donald and Maryon lived over at Taylors (in a sheep wagon, built by Grandpa, I think, but I am uncertain) They still came over to Grandpa's place for a visit now and then and one visit Donald and John had new aviators helmets which they wouldn't hardly take off. I wonder if Maryon remembers these helmets?
|Marion adds:||Yes I do! Taylors bought them, complete with goggles. They also bought bright red sheepskin coats for Doris and me.|
In the succeeding years Whites came from various places to visit everyone in Wyoming. Once they came when we lived in Moorcroft. Aunt Twyla took all of us kids to Gillette to a carnival. I had never been to a carnival before, I was about 12 years old and I had not a penny. Aunt Twyla sensed my plight and gave me some pocket money for the carnival. I will never forget that.
One great event in the lives of Aunt Twyla and Uncle Bill was when they came to see how Donald was doing with Grandma on Taylor's old ranch. Things were well with them then, and these trips represented a high point in their life.
When World War II came, I sort of lost contact with the Whites until Hazel and I moved to Seattle in 1951 where I went to work for Boeing. We stopped at Spokane on the way out to visit White's who had just moved there from Milwaukee, I think. Soon they came to Seattle to visit us. They visited us many times in Seattle when our children were small and they loved our children. We also went to Spokane for Thanksgiving and Christmas to see them. When they were at our house, we often played bridge. Uncle Bill was an outstanding bridge player. Once when they were at our house, Aunt Twyla felt a little low and to get herself to feeling better she asked me to dance with her. We put on some music and danced. We danced the fox trot. Aunt Twyla was a very good dancer, light on her feet even though she was heavy at that time. I remember how flushed and feeling better she was because of the dancing.
In the following years, Aunt Twyla suffered continuing bad health, one problem or another. Throughout all of this she maintained an incredibly good memory. Aunt Twyla and Dad (Bryan) seemed to have very good memories, but I believe that Aunt Twyla had the best memory.
A few years before she died, Aunt Twyla gave me Grandpa's pocket knife, a brown handled, 3 bladed knife. I remember grandpa sitting in his rocking chair and turning this knife end for end with his fingers on the arm of the chair. And he whittled a lot in his old age and I can remember him using the knife to do that. So Aunt Twyla's gift to me was very significant.
I regret that we did not visit Aunt Twyla more often during her last year; I had the impression that she was essentially "out of it" and would not remember us. But in fact, when we visited her shortly before she died, she remembered both Hazel and myself and could pronounce our names. When I am in Moorcroft, I will always visit her grave.
|Maryon Adds:||Also at this visit, I was telling Bill and Hazel, Bryan's recipe for a successful trip. All you need is money enough to get to the first relative. If you stay long enough, they will finance the next leg of our journey. I know Twyla heard and understood because she laughed out loud and nodded her head "yes."|
|Dee Irwin's Memories of her Great-aunt, Twyla,
Spring Valley, California, September 14, 1992
Reading this has brought both happy and sad tears to my eyes and I wish I possessed the same talent as my Cousin Maryon for words on paper and for thoughts and memories.
My memories of Great Aunt Twyla and Great Uncle Bill are probably greatly influenced from listening to the love in the voices of the elder relatives when they were spoken of. I remember visiting them when I was about 3 or 4? (before my parent's divorce), when we stopped by to see them in (Portland or Spokane?) on our way to Seattle. They lived in a big house (big to me at that age) with a great swing and I remember feeling very adored. I also remember visits by Twyla, Maryon, and Bill to Moorcroft in later years. All visits were very welcome (at least to me) because it meant a Smith family get-together which I carry great warm feelings about. This great family love comes from my Granddad (Bryan Smith) who taught me about love of family, by doing, not just talking about, helping others (he also talked about it).
I remember when Great Uncle Bill died and my sister Karen and I were told of being named in the will. No matter in what succession or precisely what the exact words said were of little consequence to me. Uncle Bill and Twyla had cared enough to mention our names. Maryon has been a strong link to my ties with this great Smith family of which I am very proud and pleased to be a part. Since moving to San Diego in 1974, my contact has not been as frequent and everyday life is filled with a career and living a full life, but my feeling of closeness to this family has not wavered, nor its importance changed. Visiting the Moorcroft cemetery, especially on Memorial Day, to put flowers on the graves, including Donald's is a very special memory and I still go to the graveyard every Memorial Day here in San Diego to honor these memories and traditions. Well, enough rambling. Thank you Maryon for your persistence in getting us all to write in these wonderful books. And especially for this one as you are the only one who could have made this one so terrific!!! Love to All.
|Ethel Taylor Memories of her Sister, Twyla,
Sundance, Wyoming, February 20, 1992
For the first time in my life I am just getting over four weeks of the flu, so I am pretty weak. I know I can't write as I am now 90½ years old, but trying to read what you kids have written is a job. What a mess. You do worse than I do and most have more education.
When I look over my past life it makes me realize it was much better than the future. We really knew what happiness was and the people of today don't seem to. In other words, it's called Progress, but is it?
I should be writing about Twyla, but so much is remembered about one growing up. I was 10 years older than she, so I took great care of her. . But let's forget that and go to the years I spent with her and Maryon in Spokane, Washington. We were both widows and I spent every year from the time school started till I would go home the last of May. The three of us really enjoyed ourselves. Ethel did most of the cooking, Maryon taught school and Twyla did as she pleased. We had so many wonderful trips. Would leave after school on Friday and venture to someplace till Sunday afternoon. We explored many places. The fall of the year is the most interesting time to travel (better rest awhile) Its noon and I'll try to finish this.
After many years like this, I finally got an apartment and moved to Sheridan. I lived there till I lost Doris with cancer, then I moved back to Moorcroft and lived there till I came to this home. I was 94 years old and the doctor thought best that I was in a home. Been here now over 5 years and this fall is the first time I've had the flu. My Grandchild, Vicki Taylor, and I visited Twyla in Spokane when she was in a home. We had such a good visit, but Twyla had failed a lot. She was always so dear to me. She seemed like my own. Maryon still lives in Spokane and she comes and we have a great trip every fall. I go to the hotel so we can be together. Twyla was so pretty and her hair curled so well. Beautiful voice to sing. Was asked to sing so many times, but never accepted. Well educated in music, but never let it be known. I'm pooped.!!
|Robert Jack Smith's Memories of his Aunt Twyla,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 14, 1992
When I was a kid, I was not aware of the interlocking of various people and happenings. I know now that my parents did not discuss a lot of things with us. I did not remember Aunt Twyla until after we moved to Wyoming and lived on Grandpa's place. To me, the Whites were always the rich relatives and I was not aware that they sometimes had more troubles than we did. It was always very exciting when they came out. Aunt Twyla always had a little present or candy for us kids.
In about 1943, the Whites lived in Denver and I was sent to gunnery school at Lowry Field in Denver. I visited them and was treated like a king. Aunt Twyla came up with some kind of Italian dish that had many different kinds of pastas, most of which I've never heard of. It was delicious and I didn't ever understand what limitations the war time rationing put on the civilians.
Had several great visits with Aunt Twyla in Spokane, the last time was when she was in a nursing home. She was feeling poorly, but had all her faculties and that's the way I remember her.
With going to school, the war and then working away from Moorcroft, I missed about 30 years of family happenings. Maryon, the reading and writing in these family books has been very rewarding to me.
|Maryon adds:||Jack forgot that Twyla conned him into painting her kitchen. Battleship gray, if you can believe it! He kept teasing her and asking where she wanted the portholes! We enjoyed every one of his visits.|
|Lillian Smith's Memories of her Sister-in-law, Twyla, Portland, Oregon||
We were in Sioux City until the year 42 or 43. I can't remember the Whites there at that time. When we came to Portland, they spent some time with us when we lived at N. Edison. We always spent one day at the beach. As I recall, Twyla's wish was to visit the Grotto. They had one lady that was very good on the pipe organ and she would request the song "Will the Circle be Unbroken."
We spent some time with them when the Shriner's Bowling team bowled against Spokane. One time Bill took my husband Jack to the horse races. Jack bet on a horse that Bill said "He's an old plug, hasn't won." So what? The old nag came in the winner. Paid pretty good (paid $4.00 MW). Maryon was selling tickets. Bill was a good cook: always big breakfasts and barbecue.
Jim and took my sister to Spokane to meet some friends from Idaho. Maryon had a luncheon for us so that Twyla could be with us. Came time for desert, Twyla ate hers and said. "You didn't want yours, did you Jim? Thank you" and ate it. I offered her mine, but she replied two helpings were enough.
Maybe some of you can recall bakeries getting sugar in 100# sacks. Twyla could always get them and I'd get them many times from her. I could embroidery them and give them as Christmas presents. Still have one set.
When Twyla and Jack got together, they would have many a laugh about things that happened when they were young. One time they were trying to see who could spit watermelon seeds the furthest. When Maryon comes to Portland , I will see she gets to go to the beach as I think she really enjoys that.
|Twyla Mae King's Memories of her Aunt Twyla, 1992||
It seems as there is or was only one Twyla White. As Mom said, she was spoiled, but we all had a hand in it, so it really wasn't her fault and that Uncle Bill did the same. As I have said, I loved all my Aunts and Uncles, but it was Aunt Twyla, Uncle Jack and Uncle Bill that I knew best. From them I got a spank and spats, but most of all I got a lot of love and care. As my mother Gus was sick a great deal, they both had a hand in raising me. I supposed that is why I turned out so well.
Aunt Twyla not only always gave her love, her help, and her money, but she also gave me a sister and brother I never had, and I still call Maryon sister and think of her as such. Aunt Twyla was a great gal. She tried to teach me fractions which I never did understand. As Maryon said, I'd look at Aunt Twyla and ask "Why take good numbers and mess them up?"
I'll always remember she was one to give and share. She knit Maryon this dress, it was chocolate brown with a green angora collar and tied with green angora balls. I think both Doris and I shared Maryon's dress so you might say Miss Maryon has never been a selfish person, or both Doris and I would have been in big trouble in may ways, not only in clothes.
I can remember Twyla walking a section (4 miles, 640 acres) and also horseback riding. We kids, that is to say, Donald and I, nearly drove her and my mother crazy. Little things like chasing Maryon around the yard with chicken manure on a stick. Now why would they all be upset about that?
When she had the store across from us, it had a lovely upstairs with outside steps. We had plays and dancing etc. up there. We kids though it a great idea to take our skates up there and give it a go. What fun. Till Aunt Twyla came and stopped us as it sounds terrible, plus the dust started to fall and choke her to death. Just kids trying to have a little fun. Like stealing my Dad's watermelon, setting the hay stack on fire, breaking eggs. Aunt Twyla was a great one to get you in her lap and give you hugs and kisses.
Aunt Twyla and Mom were very close and were alike in many ways. Like their temper. I remember Mother and Twyla taking care of Grandma, by then I had a little more sense and even now, I will never understand how they put up with Grandma. Let alone how her two sons-in-law did it. There was one mean stubborn woman! The things she would say or do to them. They had to be angels to keep sane. When one couldn't take it any longer, the other one took her. But Aunt Twyla as I said, was always there to help and give help with many. In my book, she was one great gal, as an Aunt and as a human being. I wish I were more like her in many ways. I could go on and on, but since I am standing part of the time I am writing this because of my back, I give my salute to a great Special Aunt whom I loved very much. Love Ya, Aunt Twyla
©Roberta Tuller 2019