No matter which photo I have of Cleveland Martin Bayne and Pearl Green together, they are always well-dressed. It would be great to see a widespread return to this sort of self-respect expressed through one's public appearance. I'd say this particular picture was taken around 1950.
These are my mother's grandparents on the paternal side. I'm learning more about them as we speak. For now, I can just say that they had lots of kids, several of whom moved to various parts of the country. I'm sure there will be plenty of pictures and details to come.
How hard it is to make it through life without witnessing tragedy. I've had friends, family and students who were still but in their prime when death came swooping in unannounced. In the case of Frances Annis Bayne, her life was tragically taken in an automobile accident at the age of 17.
This was my mother's youngest sister. They called her "Francie". Although I never got to meet her personally, my mother made mention of her from time to time. Francie was just about to graduate from high school, when she and her fiancé Jesse Lynn Phillips were involved in a car crash.
According to my mother, her sister had epilepsy. It was plausible that while Jessie was driving Francie had a seizure, perhaps causing a momentary distraction. Jesse lost control of the wheel, and the car crashed into a concrete barrier. He was killed instantly. Francie died the following day, Friday March 14, 1969.
They are both buried in the Phillips family plot, section 7, at Earthman Resthaven Cemetery in Houston, Texas.
I have a few old photos from Francie's childhood. One has a note written on the back: "AKA Grinny Bill". This is how we will remember her - in a perpetual state of cheerful youthfulness.
When working through the never-ending process of exploring one's family history, perhaps one of the greatest rewards, at least to me, is finding a relevant story to share about an individual. The truth be told, this is no easy thing to accomplish, especially the farther one goes back. Thankfully, I've got quite a few things to share about my dear grandfather, Clarence Otho White.
During my elementary days at Bethany Lutheran, my mother would drop me off at my grandparent's house before heading to work each morning. Their house, which was the final residence for Granddad, was 609 English Street in the Lindale subdivision of Houston, Texas.
He would walk into the kitchen dressed for work and pour a cup of coffee. (I remember asking my grandmother once if I could try some, and she told me I wouldn't like it because it was bitter. Ever since that day, I have avoided coffee - even coffee cake or coffee-flavored ice cream - like the plague.) Then, he would carry his tray into the den with a plate of toast and eggs sunny-side-up for breakfast. They looked more like "runny-side-up" to me.
The 7 o'clock morning news would be playing on the Zenith console TV - you know, those television sets that doubled as a piece of polished furniture. Granddad always had a copy of the Houston Chronicle at hand. After perusing the headlines, he would fold up the paper, especially the sports section, tuck it under his arm and head out the door to take me to school.
It was only a five or six-minute drive, but those short rides with this special man in his dusty old burgundy-colored Ford LTD still travel through the maps of my mind to this day. I can't say I remember all the little things we talked about, though some I still do. But it was the songs, the short funny songs he sang to me and taught me to sing on the way to school. Here's an example:
Yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today
We have string beans and onions
Cabbages and scallions
And all kinds of fruit, and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato
But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today.
It goes without saying that those lyrics made little sense to a six-year-old boy like me, but this morning tradition was my grandfather's personal way of bonding with his first grandson.
Herbert Lucian White (1910-1996), the oldest brother of Clarence Otho White (my grandfather), although there might be evidence of an older brother named Joseph Howard White who died before Herbert came along. Perhaps, this photo was taken around mid to late 1911 in Haskell County, Texas, Herbert's place of birth.
In this post, I'll just provide some of the basics on Frances' life. The previous couple of blog entries (part 1 and part 2) dealt with my visits to her home in Madison, Indiana.
Frances was born on August 16, 1908 in the town of Marion in Lawrence County, about an hour and a half north of Indianapolis. If she were alive today, she would be 108 years old. It's not so far-fetched now that I think about it.
Her father was John Franklin Byrd, and Dora Alice Gaines was her mother. Frances' daughter Wanda (my great aunt) recently told me that she had occasional visits to her grandparents' home in Mitchell. I'm hoping she will be able to share with me her recollections of them one day in the near future. They would be my second great grandparents.
Based on the federal census data from 1910 and 1920, there were a total of nine, count 'em, nine siblings. Here's a list of their given names starting with the eldest: Lizzie, Bessie, Delbert, Selby, Gladys, Frances, Rex, John J., and Nola.
She was 17 years old, according to the 1930 census, when she married Vernon E. Tanksley. That would place their marriage around 1926 or 1927. No marriage certificate has been discovered as of yet. I am fairly confident that Frances was Vernon's second wife. It appears he was married to a woman name Blanch briefly, but they had no children together. Vernon and Frances, on the other hand, had two daughters, Annis and Wanda.
The family moved around a bit, even across state lines at least once. They briefly lived in Palestine, Illinois. In fact, that is where the youngest daughter Wanda was born. Then they moved to Vincennes, Indiana just east of the Wabash River along the Illinois/Indiana border.
At a certain point, Vernon and Frances lived in Houston, Texas, perhaps to be closer to their daughter Annis and my mother as well. And finally they returned to Indiana and settled in the historic town of Madison, where they lived at 313 Central Ave. The house is attached to three other private dwellings, and it is said that these homes were built sometime between 1830 and 1850.
I've been told that Frances loved to cook and she was really into keeping up the house. At one point in her life she worked for Meyers, which was a factory that did World-War-II related manufacturing and subsequently turned to the production of jeans and overalls. But it appears that most of her adult life was spent minding the affairs of the home and family.
Grandma Tanksley passed away on May 19, 1985. She outlived Vernon by about eight years. They are buried together in Springdale Cemetery.
I'm thinking of her home right now, elevated a bit higher above the ground than, say, the homes in Houston. There was a small alley to the left of the house. A set of steps leading up to the front screen door, and the house sitting on top of a basement. Now that I think about it, it sort of reminds me of the duplex house that Rocky lived in, more resembling the one in the second movie rather than the first one.
Now, we're inside the house. (It's 1978, and Frances' husband Vernon passed away in the previous year. So, with the exception of a visit when I was an infant, I never really got a chance to know him.) The interior is full of aging furniture, a TV playing church-based programs (probably something like The 700 Club), and figurines placed carefully in little wooden shadowboxes.
Grandma Tanksley is at the kitchen stove. My mother says she loved to cook. I guess it runs in the family, although that particular gene hasn't passed on to me. I remember her voice, a bit gravelly. This along with her fairly large frame made her seem somewhat intimidating to a four or five-year-old boy. But as far as I recall, she was generally a cordial and down-to-earth woman.