S: Celebration of Life by Mildred Marie McKenzie Peters
FC: Celebration of Life | "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow."
1: Me as a baby with my Dad holding me
2: Where do you begin with your life story? Since I was too young to remember you have to rely on what you were told by your parents and other family members like Grandparents. | I, Mildred Marie McKenzie, was born November 1, 1927 sometime shortly before midnight of November 2. Well, at least that got me a little farther away from Halloween and being a spook (I hope). My parents were Roy K. McKenzie (20 years old at the time of my birth) and Printess Marie Bellinger (17 at the time of my birth). They married November 14, 1926, on my Grandmother’s birthday. Figure that out!! I did as soon as I got old enough. I was born at home, and at the time the place was the old Bradford place in the old house. This is now located on Hwy 920 just pass the cut-off to the hwy to Whitt.
3: My Parents
4: On down this 920 was the Roscoe Bellinger place (my Grandpa on my Mother’s side). My Grandmother died one year before my Mother married at 36 years old. Her name was Mable Williams. Years later Kenneth Wiggins (of the John Wiggins family of Peaster-the Father operated and owned the bank) made a doctor and was a friend, and our family doctor. He said he was almost sure that she died of liver cancer. In those days they didn’t find all these things. My Grandpa took her to Baylor Hospital in Dallas and still no answers. They had 4 children, Marie (oldest), Mable Edith, Howard Roscoe, and Charles Irving. Irving was eight years older than me and died at thirteen from measles and pneumonia. He had walked home in the rain with measles and caught pneumonia. Irving was much like a brother to me. We played together and some of the things we did was putting salt on the tail of a bird in the snow to try to catch the bird, feeding a frog BB shots till he was so heavy he couldn’t jump, and tying firecrackers to a dog’s tail and lighting them. The dog ran all the way to Peaster and under the Haughts’ house. My Dad gave Bob Haught .25 cents to get the dog out and I think we were in major trouble for that stunt. Not long before Irving got sick and died (I was 5 when he died) we washed my Dad’s car for an ice cream cone each on the next trip we went to town and we never got that because he died.
5: While he was sick he asked for it and the doctor or nurse wouldn’t let him have it. I wasn’t allowed to visit him or to go to the funeral because they were afraid I would catch the measles. At this time I had a new baby brother, (6 months old) Roy Kenneth McKenzie, born October 14, 1932. He was also born at home. We lived at the “Mansal” Place at that time (about 2 miles south of Peaster) on top of a hill. (Mark Layne Rd. goes west about there) Dr. McAlley delivered him. I was at my “Papa” Bellinger’s with Howard and Irving. They were picking cotton in the fields and I was riding on Howard’s cotton sack. Another thing I liked to do at Papa Bellinger’s was to taste the “special cornbread” he made for his greyhounds out of very course meal. My Great Grandpa Bellinger lived just a little south of “Papa’s place” across the road on the old Bellinger place. Uncle Herbert lived with him a little later on. He never married. I always heard he fell in love with a married lady and so he never married. Grandpa Bellinger and his wife (my Great Grandmother) Anna Jackson (of Jackson, Mississippi) had 10 children. There were two girls, eight boys (including 1 set of twin boys)-Gene (Genie) and Floyd – others were Burnis, Printess, Irving, George, Herbert and Roscoe. Great Grandpa Bellinger was in the war between the North and South. He was about 16 or 17 and was a flag bearer and was wounded in the side (if not wearing the leather holder for the flag-probably would have been killed). He died at about 93 or 94.
6: The horses I loved to ride
7: It was always fun when lots of the great uncles came to visit in the summer. I visited my Grandpa and Uncle Herbert often when we built a house on the next hill just north. They always had good saddle horses as did my Grnadpa. Irving had a Shetland named Cricket, that I wanted very much. Some of the horses I remember and loved to ride was Lightfoot (a mare). Lightfoot was a bay in color. Palo was a paint horse (a stud) good saddle horse too – a big horse. My Grandpa Bellinger raised horses, broke them to ride and sold them. I learned to ride at five years old. I would take the horse to the corral fence and crawl on and when I fell off I would have to take the horse back to the corral to get on again.
8: It is difficult to just write about your life as we are not alone and our lives are intertwined with many other people’s lives and they all influence us and our lives as we do theirs. Some for the bad – but I hope most for the good or at least a learning and growing experience. | I can remember while we lived in the 2 story house (the Mansal Place) my Mother and Ruby Brashear heating water in a big black pot (with a fire under it) and washing outside. You boiled the clothes in this pot with homemade lye soap. Then you rinse in two tubs of clean water. You also used bluing. (Mrs. Stewards Bluing). I started to 1st grade at Peaster in September before I was 6 – but a family named Bury (child –Robbie Kate younger than I) threw such a fit that they made me quit – probably for the best – but not a good experience right then. This little girl was a thorn in my flesh for quite awhile – at least thru the 5th grade. In the 5th grade I had the highest grade in my class - that is until I took the measles and got
9: very sick. I was not going to get to go back and take the tests at the end of school. This little girl came to see and told me that she was glad that I was too sick to take the test so she could beat me as the top 5th grader. Needless to say I was very upset and cried and cried, to no avail, I still didn’t get to go take the tests. The year I started the second grade we lived at Peaster and I started school there. Shortly we moved to Springtown and I went to school there for a short time then we moved to the Jacksboro Highway where Dad was running a service station and a small grocery store- times were very hard.
10: When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses. ~Joyce Brothers
11: My Mother got very ill with pneumonia and she and my little brother, Kenneth went to stay with my Grandmother at Springtown. I was going to Poolville to school then and Dad was trying to work and take care of me and send me to school. One morning - Dad sold our breakfast and I had to grab an apple and a bar of candy and ran to catch a school bus. I have very little remembrance of riding the bus to school. Also, while it was just my Dad and I, a Mrs. Dean across the highway brought us bisquits made with flour from the WPA. During this time of living here Bonnie and Clyde (the well-known outlaws) stopped and bought gas from my Dad. Before very long I was sent to stay with my Papa Bellinger (Roscoe) and his new wife (Edith Brewer). They didn't really want me and I felt that. They were so busy calling each other silly sweet names that they made me sick. I wasn't a very happy little girl about then, but I know now that really made me strong, independent and a survivor. Often I rode the bus all the way to Zion Hill to Loyce and Edith Plumlee's. Edith was my Mother's sister about two years younger than Mom. I didn't care much for Loyce - he teased and pulled my hair on the back of my neck and called me silly Milly - that doesn't do much for your self esteem. But Edith was a dear - the dishes were stacked all over the cabinet - but ofter she had chocolate cake and lots of love for a lonely little girl. She always asked if I had been to the bathroom or if I was constipated- and since on the diet I had I generally was and this got me a nice big cup of hot chocolate (which I loved) and little did I know some exlax in it. I was so grateful I always said thank you so big, she felt a little guilty for the trick she had played on me. Loyce and Edith had two girls at that time but they were not old enough for school.
12: Betty Jean is 6 years younger than I and Levonne Marie was about 18 months younger. Levonne was named after my mother and so was I (Marie). Not long after that we moved to Weatherford. We lived on the old Mineral Wells Hwy (about where the Highway Dept. is now) and I walked to Travis School (2nd ward then). I walked with about 3 other kids down the road and it was safe to do that in those days. Kinda a long walk though. I remember I think at that school on Halloween because we didn't have money for a Halloween suit, so Mom made me one out of black and orange crepe paper. I wore it to school over my cloths - thank goodness - because that didn't last long. I remember being embarassed till this day and by the way everyone wore Halloween suits - not just me, but I kinda think I was the only one with a crepe paper one. I think my Dad ran a service station there - at least I remember that it was an old service station. Another memory from that time was getting up very early on Christmas morn and getting our few presents and going to Springtown to Mama & Papa McKenzie's (James Monty & Mary Mellissia) This was always a special time and we probably got more presents there than at home. Sometime in here we moved back to Peaster and I think we lived there at that time on the road just south of the old Peaster school about 1 mile. Not a very good house and later burned - started by a flu (stove pipe that went from a kitchen wood stove thru the attic out the roof). Some of the times and moves - I kinda get confused on but I get close to it. After that I believe we built a house on the old Mansel place very close to where we once lived in the old 2 story house. The house faced south - not facing the road.
13: The house was four rooms and a bath - 2 bedrooms, small living room with a pot belly wood-burning stove in the winter and a kitchen and I think a back porch. The bath had a bath tub, but we had an outside pit toilet. (WPA built the pit toilets). When I was in about the 3rd grade, I had to milk a cow before going to school. I either walked or rode a bus. I lived about one mile from school. It was very safe then. About this time Wilene and Gene Layne (with their parents Marvin & Jesse) lived on the Mark Layne place close by. Wilene was a year older than me and Gene was a year to the day (Oct. 14) older than my brother, Kenneth. We visited (mostly in the summer) by cutting across the pasture. Now at 72 years old, Wilene Layne White and I are still friends. I can't remember exactly what year we got electric lights. But I do remember using a lamp to study by - turn the lights off and try it sometime - I'm surprised it didn't ruin our eyes. We tried to do chores, feed animals, chickens, bring in wood and study before dark. We had a radio after we go electricity but before that we ate supper, talked and went to bed. There was no heat in the bedrooms - so in cold weather, Mom heated us each an old flat iron made of iron and wrapped it in an old towel or blanket etc. (so you wouldn't get a burn) and put this in bed at your feet to help stay warm. You covered with lots of blankets and quilts and always wore a flannel gown or pajamas. We also used flannel sheets. Different huh! Some interesting things I remember and later my parents discussed with me. One was when we lived in the old 2 story Mansel house it had two front rooms with a porch across the front. The rooms were the living room and the master bedroom with the stove in winter. The one story part was the dining room and sometimes with a bed and a small kitchen.
14: Me and My Mother
15: Upstairs there were two rooms, 1 bedroom and one room (junk room). Mom had dressed me for Sunday School (I was very small) and left me rocking in a little rocker while they dressed, and I rocked into the heater and burned a bad place on the back of my head (still a scar and no hair). Then I remember when times were especially hard that the commissioner of precinct 2 (Joe Bedford) hired my Dad as a foreman on the road and then my Dad could hire Joe's son-in-law, Bill Stevens. Mr. Bedford couldn't hire a relative - so this was a legal way to get around that and both families made enough to pay bills and buy groceries, like flour meal and dry beans. We raised a hog to kill for meat, we had chickens for eggs and to eat. We raised a garden in the summer and canned vegetables for the winter (like tomatoes, green beans and corn). We raised potatoes and onions and laid them out on paper to keep dry and use in other seasons. I really remember the first job my Dad got in town (other than that he farmed and tried to raise a few calves and pigs etc.). He went to work at Hayes Ford Motor Co. (in the 1st block of Palo Pinto - facing south). I believe he made $100.00 a month. Lots of money for us. (we were poor - whether you can believe it or not). Wilene tells me now that she remembers her parents telling the amount and she said she thought we were rich. I think I was one of the original pants wearers. When I was really small, I wore unionalls. These were striped like overalls, buttoned all the way down the front and a button drop-seat to go to the toilet (remember no bathrooms with potties unless you lived in town and had money).
16: I hope I have influenced lives for the good, or at least as a learning and growing experience. | I was about 15 here.
17: then I wore dresses to school (my Mother made them - and she was not a good seamstress-so my dresses were pretty tacky - but she was doing the best she could - since we couldn't afford ready made dresses). When my Dad went to work in town, that Christmas he bought me a pant suit - a bottle jacket with a band around the bottom, much like a jean jacket and a pair of pants. The color was dark green and made from whip-cord. the best present I could have ever had. I also finally got some jodhpurs (riding pants). I loved them and thought I was really cute in them. We lived in this house until lightening hit the house and it burned and everything in it. Kenneth and I were at Springtown at our Grandma & Grandpa McKenzie's. Mom and Dad came in from Weatherford and the house was burning and they couldn't get anything out. Even my bicycle sitting in the yard close to the house burned. All the clothes Kenneth and I had was what wee took with us. We rebuilt on the same place, a little bigger (not much) and lived there a little while. Since my Dad was already working in town, we moved to Weatherford, I think I was twelve. We moved to a rent house on David St. and then bought a house at 222 West First St. and I started to Jr. High and the 7th grade and I was 13. The Jr. High was where the city hall is now. Leonard Peters started the 7th grade the same year, he transfered from the Pythian Home School. We were in the same home room. At the end of 7th grade year the school changed from 11 grades to 12 grades and we skipped the 8th grade. Grade 7 was 1941 and grad 9 was 1942, I was 14. I really did have to work in Jr. High to make good grades.
18: Peaster Schools at that time didn't give you as much as Weatherford did so I really had to work because if you didn't make good grades, you were not excepted. Leonard made good grades because he really got a good start at the Pythian Home School. Leonard and Faye Kele taught most of our math class in the 9th grade. He had a math teacher that hit you on your knuckles if you missed your multiplication tables. That would make you study. I was elected a cheer leader in the 7th or 9th grade. I didn't even know what a cheer leader was. Then I was selected for duchess for a cornation service by my home room teacher, Mr. Scott. I still do not know why. Then in the 9th grade I got the FFA Sweetheart of Senior High. I still have the jacket and my picture was in the 1942 High School annual. I didn't even know that I could buy one. At that time we graduated from Jr. High. Special graduation etc. - because it was war time, the boys wore kakai pants and shirts and I think a black tie. The girls wore white dresses and either a blue or red bandana around your neck. I wore a blue one. Afterwards nearly everyone went to the movie. The theatre was on the square about the middle of the block on the north side. (about where part of the bank is now. This was the first date for me and Leonard too. I had to go with another couple (kinda a double date) not to mention everyone else was there too. The other couple was my friend Beryl Copeland and Jack Cogburn, Leonard's friend. So Leonard and I and Beryl and Jack walked to the movies from the High School auditorium, where we had graduated. All of our parents were at graduation. Mildred and Squatter
19: Brandt (Leonard's sister and brother-in-law) came from Stephenville too. My Mother picked us up after the movie. We all lived on the North Side. On my 14th birthday I was allowed to have a party for both boys and girls. Some of the people I remember being there are Doris Boyles, Wendalyn Davis, Faye Kele, Johnnetta Sager, Leonard Peters, Bill deLeleu, Bobby Kearly and the rest I don't remember. They brought me gifts. The only one I remember was a very pretty box of handkerchiefs from Leonard. He thinks that they were given to his Mom from Bob Mathews' mother and she decided he needed them more than she did. All of the girls I named were my friends from the 7th grade thru high school and the rest of my life. In the 10th grade, we started High School next door to Jr. High (where the fire department is now). I rode a bicycle to school when I was in Jr. High. I think when I got in the 10th grade, I walked with some other kids. From West First it took me about 30 minutes. A lot of us walked downtown to eat lunch it was just 2 blocks. We ate at Kinders, Peters' Cafe, and Claude Smith's. Claude Smith's had cheap hamburgers, ham sandwiches, chili and stew. Peters' Cafe had hamburgers, good chili and good stew. Hamburgers were 10 cents each, stew about 25 cents. Kinders had sandwiches, 400's (chocolate milk with dip of vanilla ice cream), cherry cokes or sherry Dr. Peppers. No place to eat at school unless you brought your lunch. In the 10th grade I took the required subjects and bookkeeping (Miss Gatlin taught this and typing), Her Dad had a bookkeeping school on the east side of the square that taught lots of people a trade that couldn't go to college.
20: Miss Gatlin's Dad also taught penmanship, his writing was beautiful. They lived near us on the north side. At that time the North Side was considered "the wrong side of the tracks" (railroad tracks). We were more or less told that none of us could win anything in school and Juanell Baker got Football Sweetheart, I got FFA Sweetheart and Leonard got football captain. I believe you can be somebody no matter where you live or how much money you have. A good reputation is something you have to really work for. About this time I started learning how to drive a car. There was no driving school connected to the school and your Mother and Dad had to teach you. Which is not easy for them or you. I had got to the place that I was driving pretty good but remember there was not so many cars and traffic. Weatherford was a small town. I drove a Ford pickup to high school my senior year and part of my Jr. year. One day I drove into our drive and the brakes failed, I tried to circle into the other drive and hit the corner of the concrete garage-another 3 inches and I probably could have missed it and made it into the other drive. I started to Sunday School at North Side Baptist Church when I was a junior in Sunday School. I guess I was about eleven or twelve. Since I lived on West First Street I walked to Sunday School. Glen Bales was the pastor and Floy B. Browder was my Sunday School teacher. Leonard was my boyfriend all through high school. He played football, so I always went to the ball games with my Dad. After I got older sometimes I got to set with my friends
21: on the side where the pep squad sat. I think it was my junior year in high school. Ranger and Weatherford played at Weatherford and got into a gang fight. Lots of people got into the fight, scared me and I went straight to the car and my Dad met me there because there was no way we would have found each other in the crowd. When there was games out of town, one of my parents would take me and some of my girl friends if it wasn't too far away. My senior year I only lacked 2 subjects, so I went to school half a day and worked at Sullivan's | Grocery on South Main (across on the corner near the high school now). Then the high school was still where the fire station is now. We graduated at that school and this was still during World War II. The school was fairly cold in the winter, heated with furnaces. The girls were not allowed to wear pants to school, so the whole school did a walk-out strike one day and after that we could wear pants (not jeans). In high school there was sorority's then, and you had to be asked to join. I was asked and refused which was just unheard of - but they did some things
22: at _____ that I thought trashy and I wouldn't do so I turned down the invitation to join. Miss Gatlin had started the sorority and they were suppose to be for the ones making good grades not social. She called me into her classroom-scared me-I thought I was in trouble, and told me that she was impressed that I had turned them down. I really | got more attention by turning down the invitation than I would have by joining. It does pay in the long run to stand up for what is right. My high school years were good, I made good grades, had good friends and didn't run with the wild crowd. Leonard and I married September 2, 1945. Not a big wedding. We married at the First Baptist parsonage at 2pm. The parsonage was next to the church about where the gym building is now. Mary Barton was my maid of honor and Noble Peters was best man. We didn't have a car, still war time, we lived in a two room and bath garage apartment next to my parents. Leonard worked for my Dad driving a gasoline truck.
23: My Dad was the agent for T & P Coal and Oil. He later bought and changed to Humble Oil Co. Leonard worked for Dad from about 16 yrs old and on. Shortly we moved to 308 Franklin just behind my parents. We had a living room, bedroom, dining room, kitchen and bath. We had a weeping willow in the back yard. I started it by rooting a small branch in some good soil. The soil in that area and most of the soil in the north side was good soil for growing things. I had several rose bushes that I rooted and you really feel you have done something when you take a small stem and stick in some dirt and grow a lovely rose bush with beautiful roses. My Grandma and Grandpa lived across the street and they sat out in the yard every afternoon in the summer and most everyday I went across and visited awhile. Life was slower, no TV - just a radio Leonard and I listened to. We were not glued to it like so many people are to the TV. You had time to visit and read and even time to think. While we lived there we bought a 1941 Plymouth from my family for $1000.00. That was our first car. Oh, I forgot that while we still lived in the apartment, Leonard was called to have a physical with a group of Parker County guys in Dallas. They were all going to be drafted into the Army. Many of the guys were dairy hands or owners of farms etc. so the draft board of Parker County refused to draft these guys. Leonard did not have to go either, just because he was in that group, then the war was over shortly.
24: We finally got one window unit (refrigerated) in our bedroom and the baby bed was in that room. We had a big yard and I liked working in the yard and growing flowers. I was a stay at home Mom. We didn't have much be we thought mothers needed to be home to | From Franklin St. we bought a house on the corner of Water St. and Merrimac. Nice small house, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, kitchen and later a screened back porch. This is where we lived when Royce was born. We had a evaporated cooler for air conditioner until Royce was born.
25: raise the children. I could have worked. I kept books at Sullivan's Grocery while I was in High School and went back and worked for them while we lived on Franklin. She had to have surgery and I worked in her place. They were great people and had no children. When Royce was bout 6 years old we bought the land on Springtown Hwy. We bought half of it and my brother bought the other half. We built the house that we still live in today while living in a rent house on Simmons St. I think we were thirty years old. The house cost us about fifteen thousand dollars ( lots of money then).
27: Here is where Mildred's story ends. She lived to be 79 years old. She just didn't get enough time to finish her writings. What a blessing this story has been and we are grateful for what she did write down. She was a great Daughter, Wife, Mother, Mimi, and Friend. All though she stopped writing, she never stopped living and growing her faith in God. Thank you Mom for the memories.