|Opal was born on February 7, 1908, at
Jetmore KS. The daughter of Clark and Edna Burdue. She married Leroy Carley in 1927 in
Beaver City, Nebraska.. They ran away and eloped. She kept their marriage a secret for
some year. This was pretty interesting back in those days.
She did her teachers training at Kansas State Teachers College at Hayes
and taught for three years at Hodgeman County School number 61. She lived in Hayes all of
her married life and as an active supporter of Girls Scouts/Boys Scouts and a member of
Rebecca Lodge 166. An active member of the First Presbyterian Church where she taught
Sunday School for 15 years.
She is survived by her 3 sons Clark L. Carley of Bowling
Green, Ky.,Kenneth D. Carley of Lampkin, Missouri, Curtis J. Carley of Albuquerque, N.M.,
and her daughter L JoNelle Graber of Wheaton, Illinois. Her sister, Nola Scothorn of
Jetmore. Ks. She is preceded in death by her husband Leroy in 1982. A daughter Evelyn L.
Goodwin in 1977 and her sister in law May Gill.
Things like this its very difficult to attempt to
summarize a full life in just a few brief moments and it would be a great injustice to
attempt that but Opal has left us something special a legacy that can not be replaced and
something that will continue to endure for many, many generations to come. In the early
1980's, grandma began to recount and detail her childhood and all of her memories about
family and travels and the history that she remembered. In has been and still is being
documented and explored by family members. In its opening tests of wealth and exciting
information about our family heritage and were finding that the Carley and Burdue line
have been intricately woven into our fabric of American history and its a legacy
that she instigated not hardly a decade ago and its something that will cause her memory
to linger for many, many generations to come and I cant even begin to thank her for
that for what that it going to mean for my children and grandchildren.
I would like to read a few excepts from her memoirs about
her early childhood which I am very interest in and aspiring about when she was a young
girl in her time growing up. Yes, things have changed quite a bit but they havent in
a lot of ways and if I had known her when she was a child I think that we would have been
good friends she sounds like a lot of fun.
She reminds me of my children in some ways some of the
pranks and things that they get into and some of the scrapes that they had and Im
glad that she could remember those really good times in her life. Opal says that I to had
often wonder who the first Burdue was to come to America from France. His name was
Nathaniel he was born ship board on the way to American in 1748. His parents lived first
in New Jersey and later his family settled in Pennsylvania. Then Nathaniel married
Margaret Welch. In 1775 at age 27 Nathaniel enlisted to serve in the Revolutionary Army.
Each year from May 1st to November 1st he served for 5 years making
a total of 2 ½ years of total service for his brand new country. His family moved to Erie
County, Ohio on the Heron River as pioneers and at that time there is a house raising and
boys of whiskey . Someone in the group of pioneers built a Grist Mill for making corn meal
and they started there new life in the frontier. The first American Burdue died on March
2, 1837 at the age of 89. His grave has been marked by the Daughters of the American
At one time my parents Nola and I lived on a farm about a
mile outside of Dodge City, Ks. One holiday we were there visiting when a tornado was
sighted heading right for us. We were rushed to the cyclone cellar where someone on the
steps watched the progress of the storm. When it got near to us it raised and went over
our farm and then landed on the farm next to us and blew it to pieces. And in all of my
life here in Kansas there is only one such storm that endangered me though I have seen
One of my school friends in second grade was the daughter
of Mr. Beason and her bicycle was the only one that I ever rode. The year that I was in
second grade I stayed in Dodge with my grandparents and our mother was ill. Sunny Side
School was just across the street from her home and I went there for dinner and I remember
very well the day that I forgot to take off my apron that I wore at lunch and someone had
to tell me about it.
I am proud of having been grandma Burdues
favorites. One of my friends DeAdda was well over 6 feet tall when I was in fifth grade.
During stormy weather he always saw that I was well wrapped up and my 4 buckled shoes were
on securely so I was ready to go when dad came after me. My father had a sled which he
used when there was snow on the ground for feeding the cattle. In those days we would sit
on it wrapped up in a blanket, dad would turn the big wooden box over on top of us where
he sat to drive the horses. We had a cozy ride going cross lots over an area of buffalo
grass slightly over a mile to go we were snug as bugs in a rug. One time when our parents
went out to the barn to milk leaving us to play near a row of cottonwoods, Nola, Harold
and I got into a long fight over the swing, dad yelled at us several times to stop
quarreling and finally he came to take matters into hand. He spanked us all. That I
remember because at least that time I didn'tt deserve a spanking. Thats the
only I can remember dad spanking me.
I think that I was in the fifth grade when we moved to
Lawhead place south of Jetmore, it was probably in March and that was usual for farmers.
March 1st was the time to pay the rent I rode with dad on a load of belongings
in a lumber wagon. It was cold and very damp and on my way I broke out with German Measles
that is not a good effect for anyone.
When Nola and I had kids diseases we took turns being
very sick. When I had the whooping cough it nearly killed me. When I had the chicken pox I
had seven of them, one on my eyebrow and six on my back. When I had ear aches, Uncle Jim
usually blew smoke in my ear with his pipe. When we had influenza I was the chief cook and
bottle washer. The neighbor washed for us and clean out the clothes, it was probably the
winter of 1918.
The only doll that I remember having was Flora Dona. She
was made in Germany and had a little white, kid leather jointed body with a china head.
She had blonde hair, painted eyes and even a blue china ribbon. From the elbows her arms
were also china with delicate fingers. Someone tried to teach her to play the piano on the
cold ranged hearth and broke the fingers. I wonder who that was? Her legs from the knees
down were also china also. My children also gave her a bad time too. She was in the trunk
in the basement here in Hayes when the 1951 flood finished her off.
During WWI the red cross ask people to knit sweaters,
socks and wash rags for the soldiers in France. Not everyone could make long socks as
turning the heal and finishing the toes was not easy. The mother had a talent for such
things. I knitted wash rags, I never figured out why anyone would want them. The yarn was
furnished by the red cross and all of it was the same color, olive drab, like the
uniforms. It was all of the knitting that I ever did. But with the aid of the world book I
taught both of my daughters to knit. I still cant knit, but they do that very well.
We had a old Model T, mother, Nola and I went to Jetmore
to get our Model T. We really thought that we had something special. It was in 1925 and I
was a senior in high school we could have any color of a new car that we wanted as long as
it was black. It cost in the neighborhood of five hundred dollars. It was a touring car
with a canvas top that folded down, if we wanted to take the air. Windows were of
isinglass which became brittle and yellowed with aged. It was a four in the floor spark
and gas levers were on the steering column and it seated five and thirty five miles an
hour was a good speed.
After I got my teaching certificate I taught
in the school were I had gone in the grades and knew all of the fourteen children. The
kids called me Miss Opal, as I thought that it was not fair for them to use my last name.
Vera Livezey who had gone to school with me was taller that I and never washed her neck,
so I did it for her. She didn'tt seem to mind, she came from a family of seven
children that did not know what cleanliness met so I had to teach her. She had a younger
sister thou who did her best to be presentable. At the end of this particular section of
memoirs she had a poem called "An Ode to Old Age" which I thought was nice.
|How do I know that my
youth is all spent?
But in spite of it all, I am able to grin,
"Old age is golden," as I've heard it said,
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup,
Ere sleep dims my eyes, I say to myself,
And Im happy to say as I close my door,
When I was young, my slippers were red.
When I grew older my slippers were blue.
Now that Im old my slippers are black.
The reason I know my youth is all spent.
But I really don't mind when I think with a grin.
Since I've retired from life's competition,
|When my get-up-and-go
has got up and went.
When I think of the places my get up has been.
But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed.
My eyes on the table until I wake up.
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?
My friends are the same or perhaps even more.
I could kick up my heals right over my head.
But I still could dance the whole night through.
I walk to the store and puff my way back.
My get-up-and-go has got up and went.
Of all the places by get up has been.
I busy myself with complete repetition.
That tells me that
Opal not only appreciated the privilege of growing old, along with the privilege of being
young, she certainly did her best to enjoy all of those things. I hope that in the future
I will be as fortunate as she to look back on a long life with so many ventures , so many
changes, so many friends, family and good times, its certainly quite a reward.
The last few days I really enjoyed hearing stories from
the children regarding time growing up with Opal and Leroy back home. Its amazing about
some of the stories that pop out about friends and loved ones and parents and how that had
they had touched scrapes and how they had got into trouble and how grandma baled them out
many times, it was certainly fun.
She was very involved with her children and the running
of the business (the newspaper business). She set an incredible example for her children
for her hard work and dedication. She was an inspiration for many people in the church and
in the community. She was certainly the matriarch in the family keeping everything in
order, taking care of the kids, taking care of Leroy, taking care of the house, everything
was organized, ran pretty smoothly. She was a devoted wife and mother, willing to take any
sacrifice as necessary for the comfort of her children. One of the kids mentioned having
been in the basement and overheard discussions late at night when Leroy would come in
about two oclock in the morning showing an interest in the kids, wanting to know how
there day went. Opal would fill him in on all the details what they might need for
upcoming events or boy scouts or activities or things like that and they were extremely
involved in the daily activities of the kids. Often times the kids didn'tt know it,
there was a lot going on.
She was an entrepreneur in some ways like Leroy, before
it was popular from selling bread and milk at the front door to the neighbors to helping
carry sound equipment up the many flights of stairs at Ft. Hayes Stadium for some of the
other events to hauling cords and microphones and sound equipment and things like that. I
understand that the children let there friends in often times they would carry a
microphone cord or something like that. That also tells me that Opal had a strong back,
some of that stuff weighed a ton and the kids needed her help to do that. She was
determined and hard working Christian woman really dedicated to her lord and community.
She raised five wonderful children. Leroys unusual schedule caused new demands on
her life and it was not unusual for her to get up at one or two oclock in the
morning fixing a complete dinner. She took good care of her man.
And then there was the unfortunate stress that was on her
life when it came tax time and she had to dig through the piles of paperwork in the living
room with the slips everywhere of a nickel here and a dime here trying to get the taxes
together for him and she worked very hard at that as well every year. She was a wise woman
and a tolerate one allowing her yard to become home for all of Leroys valuables. She
let him be the man that he was and loved him as he was and in the process allowed her
children and grandchildren to find great adventure and joy in the exploration of the back
yard and the garage with its animus treasures and mysteries that we remember today. I have
fond memories of digging through the garage and climbing into the tower and finding
invaluable treasures buried at the bottom of piles of decades gone by, priceless things.
Opals life was one of selfless dedication to her
husband, her children, her church, and her community and everyone that knows her and loves
her will have fond and lasting memories of how she touched our lives. As I look back on my
childhood some of my most vivid memories are visiting here in Hayes. I loved coming here,
the house over on 4th Street. I remember grandma giving me a jar and sending me
out in the back yard to catch fire flies. In fact I dont recall seeing fire flies
anywhere but here, Im sure there are but in the back yard, over by the garage and
the bushes are the best place to catch fire flies, it was just absolutely wonderful and so
told me to be careful when I went outside because I wanted to sit up in the forty six
panel wagon and pretend that I was driving and delivering papers like grandpa, it was kind
of dangerous, it was best that I didn'tt do that because she did not want me to get
hurt. We used to go downstairs and play with Curtis toys and battleships and my dad
would build wooden airplanes and I dont know how it happened but sometimes they
would get broken so I would put them back on the shelf and reassemble them and leave them
there so that someone else would be blamed, maybe Warren, maybe Ken, it was certainly fun.
I think the most vivid memory I have is when I decided to
go fishing down at the creek, I dont recall if it was the first time I ever went
fishing, it was one of the earliest time I remember, but I had a stick and a string and a
hook that I think dad had fixed up for me and I went down to the creek at Ft. Hayes
College and I actually caught me a catfish, I dont know if it was the first fish I
ever caught but it was one of the earliest memories that I have of it and I brought that
catfish home, didn'tt know what to do with it and I took it to my mother and she
didn'tt want it, dad didn'tt want it and just thought that we should eat this
thing, but I didn'tt know the first thing about catfish and grandma didn'tt
hesitate she just said, "come here let me fixed that thing up for you" she took
that catfish, took it into the kitchen gutted it and cleaned it out and put some flour and
cornmeal on there and cooked it in the frying pan and I ate my catfish that grandma had
fixed me and that was so goodness long time ago, when she fixed that catfish for me it was
As I heard the stories about grandma all the things she
was involved in a passage came to mind that I thought was so applicable out of Proverbs it
really described her in so many ways and I just really liked it inspires.
A worthy woman who can find, her price is far above
rubies, the heart of her has been trusted in her, he shall have no lack of being, she
doethe him good, and not evil all of the days of her life, she seethe wool and flax and
worked of willingly with her hands, shes like the merchant ships, she brings her
bread from afar. She rises while it is yet night and giveth food for her household and
tasks to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she
plants a vineyard. She girds her loins with strength and maketh strong in her arms. She
perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out never by night.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her
mouth with wisdom, and the live kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of
her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her
blessed; her husband also, and he praises her saying many daughters have done willingly by
thou are the most excellent of all. Grace is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman
that fears God shall be praised.
Her legacy of family history and the search for our
heritage that she has inspired and instigated will serve generations to come as lasting
tribute to her life and the lives she has born and the lives she has influenced. God bless
her greatly and keep her until our reunion, some day in heaven.
Thank you lord Jesus for the inspiration and the
influence that Opal Fern Carley has had our lives and we look forward to seeing her again
and sharing the joyous memories and times together and having some new ones in the future,
keep her close to your heart, thank you for her reward, thank you for your dedication and
love to her, your steadfastness and your fierce dedication to her happiness and her life.
Thank you for taking her home with you now where she can enjoy the peace and the comfort
that is only found at your side. Thank you for my privilege of knowing her and loving her.
Help us to cherish her memory always in a special way. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
"Just a Closer Walk with Thee"
Soloist: daughter Lois JoNelle (Carley) Graber
Organist: granddaughter Robin (Carley) Williamson
The back ground music on this web page is
"Peace in the Valley" her favorite
hymn. All hymns sung by her daughter Lois JoNelle (Carley) Graber of Wheaton, Illinois.
© Copyright by Clark L. Carley 1998