Diana Faye Stratman Groves
November 7, 1924-August 13, 1987
"Her children arise up and call her blessed"...
This site is dedicated to my mother, my best friend who I lost over 12 years ago. I can only now begin to reflect on her life, what she meant to me and what made her so special to all that knew her. This is the study of her ancestors.... her generation and how they became The Greatest Generation.
This is her story....what I can tell and protect the privacy of the living. Her opening statement in her unfinished memoirs was "I was a coal miners daughter just like Loretta Lynn". Her sister was born in a town that did not even have a name, just a number. *Number 18, I believe. The daughter of a German immigrant, Eric August "Harry" Stratman, and another coal miner's daughter, Ethel Marie Price. Her earliest memory was swinging between the holes of a "two holer" outhouse and almost falling in. She was actually born "Dina" but always used the name Diana, which was totally irrelevant because everyone called her Faye. She said she was named after Faye Wray, her dad's favorite movie star.
Faye and Maxine around 1932
She grew up in the depression. She saw her father stand in soup lines. Faye and her sister were in the middle of the labor union wars in southern Illinois. We all knew her to never be on time, but in her scrapbook, she had 12 years of school certificates for never being "tardy". She started school in West Frankfort, Illinois but soon moved to a small rural town, Kincaid, Illinois where she attended school. She often spoke of the little retarded girl next door who would come over and sit on their porch. She was the sister of her best friend, Stella. Stella was a beautiful girl who never married. She spent her life caring for her mother and retarded sister. My mother admired her, they were friends for 50 years.
Her sister wrote the following description of their life in southern Illinois as children:
"When you start remembering back on your life. you put things in perspective. I haven't thought about our girlhood times in a long time. We had such a wonderful time growing up, even though much of it was in wartime. We were SO poor, but we didn't know it.
Faye and Maxine in 1926
Dad provided for us. Lived on the farm (worked hard) and grew everything to eat. Didn't go to the store except for staples. I remember Dad and Mom would give Faye and I each a nickel, and we could buy all the candy (penny candy) we wanted. Sometimes, they would stretch the money and buy us all a treat and buy store bought bread and maybe cookies. We would sell our tomatoes in the summer that we grew, pull them to the store in our little wagon from the farm (about 1 1/2 miles) and maybe get twenty five cents for them. We could keep that money and go to the Saturday shows. Shows were a dime. We also sold our potatoes in the early fall to make some money."
Faye and her sister were teenagers when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She once told me, she was doing dishes on a Sunday afternoon when they heard the news. War broke out the same year she graduated from South Fork High School in Kincaid.
South Fork High School
and Junior High
The whole family worked in the war plants and Faye and her sister volunteered at the USO.
Ration book from WWII
She married a World War II veteran right after the war, wearing her sister's wedding gown befor her sister got to. Her sister is still a little upset about that, though I am not sure she would admit it.
Mr. and Mrs Harold Groves
Her sister Maxine and her fiance'
Her solider, Harold Groves, was a divorced man with two children, 8 and 6 years old. The youngest child moved in with them immediately and one year later, I was born.
The new family arnd 1948
Her first home as Mrs. Harold Groves was on Segal Street in Decatur, Ilinois.
Segal Street, Decatur, Illinois
Two years later, her youngest and last child was born Soon after that, they picked up Harold's oldest child and moved to Los Alamos to work at the Los Alamos Atomic Energy Laboratory.
Life was pretty good in Los Alamos in the 50s. A closed city that required a government pass to get in. The housing was provided by the government and the schools were first class. Her sister, Maxine and her family joined them 2 years later and her parents followed soon after that.
Faye and Maxine with their families
around Los Alamos
When the gate came down in 1957, she thought we would all be murdered in our beds.
Harold was very intelligent and always inventing something. He became interested in archery and after consulting with his friends and scientists at the atomic labs, he built a bow. The "Groves Spitfire Recurve" bow. He received national attention for shooting a cable across a canyon to assist the atomic labs.
They left Los Alamos for the city, Albuquerque, New Mexico. There they started a bow business.
The opening of Groves Archery Range
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Though nationally known for its accuracy and speed, the monetary rewards were minimal. The bow shop burned down the first year. A new large factory was built wth government assistance because my dad hired Inidans to make bows.
Who knows why marriages end after 20 years? I often thought of them as Doris Day and Frank Sinatra in the movie where the "girl next door" married the "wild kid" from across town.
She was fine. She had her children who adored her, and her grandchildren. She had her church. She decided to start a career as a real estate broker. She won the RARE award from the Albuquerque Board of Realtors for her congeniality. She remarried a wonderful man.
Mr. and Mrs. Jess Harris
Between them, they had 14 grandchildren. Most of them lived in the same town. She had finally found her soul mate but two years after the marriage, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The next 6 years were very hard. He died in 1980 and two years later, my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was a non-smoker who had worked with chemicals in the "war plants". She lived 6 years. Most of which were good. I miss her, she was too young to die. The last time she spoke, she said there were "two angels" in her room. Actually, there were three.
"I Met the Lord"
by Faye Groves
I met the Lord this morning
When the day was at it's best
And his presence was my sunrise
He brought me peace and rest
So I'd like the tears of those who grieve
to dry before the sun
And the "happy memories" that I leave
Live with everyone.
Faye's Happy Memories - Her Grandchildren
pages turn automatically-12 photos
Faye's Wedding Album
Family Photo Album
Faye's Family Tree
Sandra Burbridge - her daughter
*18 is on the east edge of W. Frankfort, north about 2 miles, half way to the east edge of Benton. It was also called Deering or Caldwell. It was commonly referred to as 18, because of Mine #18 of a coal company.