Today is my paternal grandmother's 100th birthday. She was born January 11, 1914 in Duncan, Oklahoma. She was the third child and only daughter of a country doctor and his wife.
Oklahoma A&M '34
My grandma had a pretty good childhood as the daughter of a doctor. Her family lived in a nice house in town. They had a car and a telephone (their phone number was 7).
My grandma's childhood home in 2011.
We knocked on the door and the lady let us in.
Being the baby of the family and only girl, she had her own bedroom with a fireplace in it. Her older brother would later remind me of that room with the fireplace. He was a tad annoyed his sister got the best bedroom.
The fireplace of contention in 2011.
In the 1930's, my grandma's father became ill. He lost his medical practice and they lost their house. The older brothers were out of the house at this time. My grandma was about to enter college. We're still not sure how she managed to pay for it, but she went to Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State). She was in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and studied journalism.
After leaving college, my grandma took a job with the Duncan Banner newspaper. She was the society editor.
Undated. Probably 1940s.
In 1937, my grandmother married my grandfather. They left for California shortly after that. It could not have been easy for her, especially leaving her family behind. They settled in Los Angeles, building a house near the University of Southern California.Three kids and a couple moves later, they owned and operated a Western Home & Auto in Rubidoux.
My grandma liked to tell stories about her life, but as I got older I realized she was selective in what she told. One time, my grandpa started talking about the college days and eluded that my grandma was quite the party girl. She made him stop talking before I got the real scoop.
My grandma and a friend during her wild college days.
I was fortunate enough to have my grandma here in my life into my 30s. She always had white hair when I knew her. She was 4'11" at her tallest. This is where my own vertically-challenged height and wide feet come from.
Grandma and grandchildren, 1976. I'm on the right.
My grandma passed away before I really got into researching our family's history. I'm sorry I don't have her knowledge. I also often wonder what she would have thought of all I've uncovered. Her family came from pretty good stock. One line helped form Arkansas. Another was in Texas pre-statehood. My grandma's mother and grandmother were also original enrollees of the Chickasaw Nation. She was very proud of that.
My son and my grandma, probably 2001.
It's hard to imagine my grandma being 100. She'd still have white hair. She'd still be short. Our family would probably give her a party whether she wanted it or not. But she'd sit n the big chair at my parents' house with her glass of wine without protest because that how she did things.
Happy birthday, grandma.
Fun fact for the family: grandma's birth certificate lists her as Velma Doris. I've yet to find any other record that lists her first name as Velma.