Warren and Virgil (Dolly) Boyd Strickland
60th Wedding Anniversary
June 6, 1926 - June 6, 1986
ADVENTURE AND REFLECTIONS
April 13, 1926 - We were all gathered at the train depot in Peru, Indiana - my mother, Mary Catherine (Harris) Boyd, oldest brother Mancell, sister Alma and younger brothers George & Richard. My dad was in El Dorado, Ark. working in the oil fields. Four year old Richard was crying, "My sister Birgil is going away and I won't ever see her again."
The train arrived. Farewells were said. My trunk was loaded and I boarded the train with my suitcase. I found a seat on the side where I could talk out the window and wave goodbyes. The train pulled out and I was on my way to Florida. Little did I realize that it was the beginning of an adventure that would last these sixty years, nor that it would be three years and two babies later before I would see my family again. The trunk that I used on that journey is now in Jackie & Arden Runyan’s shed where it has been for quite a few years & long past its usefulness.
April 15, 1926 - Early in the morning I got off the train at Union Station in Tampa, Fla. Rosalee Altman and her husband Nolan were there to meet me. With them was a man named Warren Strickland, who was a friend of theirs and happened to have a car which was a luxury in those days. Warren invited all of us to go to a restaurant for breakfast before taking us to Rosalee & Nolan's home. Warren said that I didn't eat very much that morning. I was tired after the long train ride. That was the first time I met the man that I was soon to marry.
I never realized how my friendship with Rosalee would change my life. She was my closest friend. We first met when we lived next door to one another in San Antonio, Texas. She was an only child. We spent all of our free time together. We both worked in downtown San Antonio near the Alamo. We rode the streetcars to and from work together every day. We would also meet on our lunch hour and eat together. One of our favorite places was the famous Old Buckhorn Saloon that had been converted into a restaurant. In 1974 when we visited San Antonio, this building had been moved to another location for preservation as a historic site.
After we moved to Indiana, Rosalee and I kept in close touch. She met Nolan when he was in the service and stationed in San Antonio. They were married there and after his discharge they moved to Tampa, which was Nolan's hometown. Rosalee was lonesome being so far from her home in Texas. She kept urging me by letter to come to Tampa. She was sure I could get work and I could stay with her. Tampa was booming at that time and I did find work at Fisk's Credit Clothing Store. Warren had come to Tampa 10 years earlier and was also in the credit clothing business. His partner was John Walker, who was Rosalee's brother in law. Rosalee worked for John & Warren.
Spring was in the air and I was seeing Warren every day after our first meeting. We soon became engaged and set our wedding date for June 27th just a little over 2 months after we first met. But tragedy struck and changed our plans. Nolan was killed in an accident at work. I went to stay with Warren's sister Berta and we moved our wedding date up to the 6th of June, 1926. We were married in the Palm Ave. Baptist Church. Rosalee was my Matron of Honor and John Walker was Warren's Best Man. Since none of my family were in Florida, Warren came after me to get me to the church on time. We were early so to kill some time we visited the cemetery where his niece Cristell was buried. Doesn't everyone go to a cemetery on their wedding day?
May 3rd, 1927 - was a Tuesday and a beautiful baby girl with lots of black hair arrived on the scene at McLaren Hospital in Tampa. Warren was so thrilled that he spent all the time he could at the hospital just looking at her. At night, not wanting to wake her, he would light matches to get another look. He named her Mamie after my mother, who he had never seen, and Irene, which was my middle name.
The Florida building boom slowed down and then came to a standstill. Buildings under construction were abandoned. Collections fell off in our business as people were losing work and couldn't make their payments. Many businesses were failing. Warren was born and raised in Georgia and came to work in Florida and so he was ready for a change. Texas sounded interesting because it was a change and because I had lived there. Perhaps it was a good place for a new start. We sold our furniture, loaded our car with all we had and headed west.
The trip to Texas was very interesting. Roads in those days were not well traveled and very narrow and rough. Irene was a great traveler. She laughed at every bump. This was her first trip and she laughed all the way to Texas over the Tam Miami trail. Bridges were scarce in those days and every river was crossed by Ferry Boat. The last Ferry ride crossed the Natchez River into Beaumont, Texas. Warren found work in Beaumont. The pay was low but we managed. This was 1928.
Jan 15th, 1929 - was another Tuesday and our second beautiful daughter arrived. We named her Anita Jacqueline. She was delivered by a doctor in our home and with the assistance of a neighbor, Mrs Box. We called her Jackie, short for Jacqueline but also because Jackson was Warren's middle name. She was a smaller baby than Irene but very healthy, sweet and loveable.
Early one morning (about 3 AM) when Jackie was about 2 months old, we were awakened by a knock at the door. We asked who it was and a voice said, "It's the Milkman". Since that was the time the milkman usually delivered, we opened the door to see what he wanted.
To our surprise there stood my father, George S. Boyd and my cousin, Aldo Reynolds. We had no idea that they were coming since my folks lived in Michigan at that time. What a great reunion since it had been 3 years since I had seen my dad. My dad was a Civil Engineer and he and my cousin were on their way to work at a Refinery in Sellers, La. near New Orleans. Coming by way of Beaumont they were able to spend a few days with us.
My dad got work for Warren at the Refinery so we moved to Modock near Sellers. This was an interesting area settled by the French Cajuns. Modock was a village of 200 families and there was only one other family besides us that wasn't of Cajun French descent. Sellers and another larger town, Destrahan, between Sellers & Modock were also Cajun French settlements. It was like living in a foreign country to us. These settlements were along the Mississippi River, which had high levees along its banks to protect the settlements from floods. The levees were higher than most of the houses. There were watermarks inside our house so we knew it had been flooded at one time. Our favorite recreation was to go to the river to see how high the water was. I had instructions of what to do if the water reached a certain point on the levee. I was to take a Ferry to Luling across the river and head for higher ground.
Our water supply was different too. Every one had above ground galvanized Cisterns. One night a cow got into our fenced yard and rubbed against the faucet causing it to open. We lost most of our water supply. However it rained before we lost it all and we were OK. Mosquitoes were rampant. I've never seen them so big anywhere else. Late one evening I tried to take some clothes off the line and they attacked me like an army. It was quite a battle and the mosquitoes won. There was a store or two in each of the villages. There was a barbershop in Destrahan. Hucksters came through regularly with their supplies of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Seafood was all that could be purchased on Friday or during lent. These were strictly Catholic villages. New Orleans was about 25 miles away and we often went there on weekends to shop. This was often a hazardous trip, especially at night or early morning because of the fog. We couldn't drive over 5 miles an hour. The roadway was lower than the levee and we followed it as best we could.
The refinery where the men worked in Sellers was known as Dutch Shell. While we were living there, the Queen of Holland came to make an inspection tour.
I have checked maps of today and can't fine Modock, Destrahan or Sellers on any of them. However, I did find Luling. The levee stretched along the river from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. There was no way to cross the river except by Ferry.
My dad, Aldo, Warren and I and the two girls all lived together in a house we rented. Aldo was always very good with Irene and Jackie. Jackie especially liked to have him sing to her. I liked his singing too.
After a few months my dad took a new job at a refinery in Okmulgee, Okla. Aldo was homesick so he decided to go back to Michigan. We went with my dad to Okmulgee hoping that Warren might get a job there too. On the way to Okmulgee we ran into a flash flood in a tiny crossroads town called Caney in Oklahoma. We were stranded there for a few days with about 500 other people and no hotel. There was a small restaurant and a store, which ran out of food. With our two small children we were fortunate to find a family who let us sleep in their home.
Our main pastime while we were here was to check the water level to see when it was receding. The high point of this experience in Caney was the medicine show that played at night. There was nothing else to do so everyone came out and the medicine man must have had a show that I'm sure he never equaled before or since. The people here were very kind and we had a good experience. I have pictures of this town with the flood waters and also of an open well in the middle of the road. Since we had a schedule to keep, we left Caney before the water had completely receded. We had to be pulled through the water by a team of horses. The water came over the car seats and most of our things were soaked. The engine oil had to be drained and replaced before we could drive any further. Some of our things were ruined or lost but it could have been a lot worse. We can't find Caney on any maps today.
We arrived in Okmulgee in time for my dad to report to work. Warren couldn't find a job right away because work at the refinery was indefinite. We spent a couple of weeks there and then decided to go to Michigan to visit my mother and my brothers and sister.
We reached the farm where they lived in Michigan early one evening. My brother Mancell Boyd came out to meet us. I asked him if he knew who I was. He said, "I'm not sure but you look like my sister." He said that my mother, my sister, Alma, and my brothers, George and Richard, were all at a prayer meeting at the church in Brady Center. He said that he would go get them and he ran all the way to the church. This was a great and memorable reunion as I hadn't seen them since I left home three years before.
October 14, 1933 was a Saturday and we were living in Longview, Texas. Our third and last beautiful girl was born. We named her Elizabeth Ann and called her Betty Ann. If she had come a few hours earlier she would have been born on Friday the 13th. We feel blessed to have three beautiful girls who have further blessed us with 9 wonderful grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Rosalee Altman left Florida soon after we were married. She moved to California and married Gerald Sheehy and raised two children. Gerald has since passed away. We visited her in 1973 in Redwood City. In 1975 Rosalee's daughter told us that her mother had Alzheimer's disease.
There are many other things to tell that happened over our 60 years together. We remember the first radios and later television - the early cars - the first airplanes - 20 mule teams - ice boxes and then the refrigerator. At one time we kept food chilled by lowering it down an open well in buckets. Roads were more like trails - no washers or dryers - white clothes were boiled over an open fire and washed by hand on a scrub board - no inside plumbing - kerosene lamps. We have seen so many dramatic changes in the way we live. We are thankful that God picked this time for us to live on earth and pray that you too may see His handiwork in your years ahead.
We believe that God has been the guiding light of our life and has been close to us in all these 60 years of our marriage. He brought us together through my friendship with Rosalee when we were together briefly in Florida. Warren's move from Georgia to Florida and our meeting at the Union Station were meant to be. I feel that God has been with us all of our lives, especially when we most needed Him. His guiding hand, which we cannot see has always provided for us and always will. We give thanks to our Heavenly Father. Our blessings have been great. We were never promised a Rose Garden nor did we ever have one. But we did promise to love and cherish each other through sickness and health until death do us part.
We ask God to bless you all
Virgil (Dolly) & Warren Jackson Strickland 6th June 1986
(Warren died in 1991 at age 95 years and Dolly died in 2001 at 95)
(c) Richard G. Boyd
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