South to Hammond, Louisiana and to Biloxi, Mississippi
In 1924, my mother and father decided to move south. My mother had asthma so bad the doctors had no hopes but for her to move south. So my parents decided to hold a public auction - sell their possessions and keep the Model T Ford and use the proceeds to make the trip to Florida, where the climate was considered much better. Previously my mother had had several operations in which her sister Margaret Freeman, of Kansas City, MO, had helped her financially. Without Margaret and her husband's help it could have not happened.
They planned the trip on going via Joplin, MO, to Kansas City, MO, for a short visit with here sister Margaret and family and from there to Hammond, Louisiana, to visit for a while with my father's sister Phoebe Mills and her husband Rollo, on 500 East Merry Avenue in Hammond. They lived in a home that was given her by my Grandfather - Joseph Fulton Stillman. My parents planned to go on to Biloxi, Mississippi to visit another of my father's sister Mrs. Margaret Eggers, whose husband was Dr. Carl Eggers, a Chiropractor, who lived on East Howard Avenue in Biloxi, MS; then on to possibly Tampa, Florida, planning on going on into raising oranges or whatever business was available.
We got packed up using the running boards on the Model T to store stuff as well as on the spare tire in the back, using whatever space possible. My brother Glen was chosen to drive the car, and he was very good at it. Before leaving there was a box or two of things we could not take with us that was left with neighbors - to be forwarded when we arrived somewhere. That was never to happen because that particular neighbor's house burned up after we left there.
There was no bridge this side of the Mississippi River near Joplin - only a ferry boat - and the car had to climb the hill the other side of the river. Glen had to back the car up the hill - because there was no gas pump in the car - it only used ground level to get gas to the carburetor, and as it is recalled each of us had to help push the car - to complete the backing the car up the hill to get on to Joplin. In Joplin we found a small hotel to stay in for the night for all of us for two dollars, It was the first time I had ever seen an electric fan and it was also the first time we stayed overnight. Other rooms along the way were about the same price; however, we took along bread and things to eat on the way - this was a great help, as money was scarce.
When we had flat tires, we had to take the outer rim off and then the casing and then take the tube out and patch it with special glue and a patch, then put it back together and pump in air with a tire pump - 60 or 70 pounds of air - and this took time and was quite an event.
When we arrived at Kansas City we had a nice visit with Uncle Elmer and Aunt Margaret, and got to meet their son Lauren, who had been a Lieutenant in the Army in WW1. They owned and operated a Mortuary (Freeman Mortuary) and Funeral Home there; and, lived on the 2nd and 3rd floor. Lauren married and they had children, and their children inherited the business, which is there to this day. Issac William Carpenter, my mother's father living in Gentry, Arkansas, was in the Funeral business. At that time it was considered that if Glen wanted to go in the funeral business - he had that opportunity - but it was decided otherwise. At this time I can imagine they were sort of glad to see us be on our way (Smile)
From Kansas City, we traveled to Hammond, LA. At one time we asked for directions how to get to Hammond and the man said " just ya foller the concrete - it will get ya there" - this was the usual help or direction given most travelers a that time as not many people ventured out at that time.
We soon arrived at 500 East Merry Avenue, in Hammond, LA; and, had a wonderful visit with Aunt Phoebe and Uncle Rollo.
500 East Merry Avenue, Hammond, LA
We stayed there a week or so until it stopped raining. I remember Uncle Rollo liked pumpkin or sweet potato pie with honey on it, and I enjoyed seeing the Katzenjammer Kids and Slim Jim in the funny papers each Sunday, and in seeing Straight Arrow, and Sam Smart the detective movies.
I went fishing with a Mr. Hummel, who lived across the street, in one of the rivers nearby. From there we went on to Biloxi. These travels were on gravel roads; and, when it rained, driving was a hard and somewhat dangerous job in loose gravel.
Before arriving at Biloxi we were slowed down at Bay St Louis, MS., because there was a ferry across the bay, every so often. I can't recall if we used the ferry or went the long way around the North side of the bay. Regardless, this had to be done mostly at low tide because of the ferry and roads around the bay.
We arrived in a down pour at Aunt Margaret and Uncle Carl Eggers at 535 East Howard Avenue, in Biloxi, MS.
The Eggers House on 535 East Howard Avenue
We managed to get unpacked for a weeks stay. We had the west side of their home and Uncle Carl had the front of the house as his Chiropractor Office. As I recall it he was a pretty good one. The bathroom or so had wall closet tanks for the commode. This was very good, along with his victrola with the long large megaphone; music was obtained by using round cylinders slid on a slide or bar and the music was great. One record was very good called "His Masters Voice" - I think it ended up in the master elimination of the the dog.
Now their home was near the Biloxi High School on Howard Avenue and I was able to play basketball with Mary and Emile Michelle, whose mother was a school teacher and whose father was City Clerk and know as "Slow Michelle' because he walked so slowly.
My mother was able to locate a Dr Gay out at Sunshine Gay Clinic on the Beach towards Gulfport, and she believed he could cure her of her trouble.
In the meantime my father found employment as a carpenter at the Breilmire Sash and Door Factory up town near the railroad tracks, and we were able to find a house over east of Aunt Margaret's with the Captain Bowen's at 608 East Howard Avenue. Their daughter Lilly was a principal at one of the schools at that time. We really enjoyed their friendship. The house had a fireplace in every room except the bathrooms, (right here we started using pine knots and charcoal to start the fire so we could use coal in the fireplaces) a front porch looking out over Howard Ave and a nice yard in the back with a nice big fig tree. At that time everybody threw their dishwater - out the backdoor on the fig tree or trees, Now Captain Bowen was the harbor pilot to pilot boats from Ship Island into Gulfport, MS, and this was quite a job as most boats at that time were powered by sail and not by motor, He told me that he built his big three story home by using the rocks he got in England and France that were used as ballast when returning with not much cargo - however, there may be other stories about this event. Lucille and Glen found jobs in stores and banks in Biloxi and this kept the wheels turning and I guess that the rest of the "Trip to Florida" was just plain forgotten. Lucille and Glen had graduated from high school before leaving Beaman and this helped them greatly in getting employment in the area.
Meanwhile Ralph and I found ourselves going to Dukate Grammar School on East Howard Avenue. We were checked in as being from "Up North" in the 4th and 5th grades, and for the first week or so we stood back to back - fighting the "Civil War" - we were called "Damn Yankees" for a long time and until most of us forgot the situation - for a while it was real rough going'.
At the end of that school year my parents were able to find a nice home at 508 Seal Avenue, in the west end of town, owned by the Sadler family. This was a nice two-story home that we really liked. So Ralph and I switched to a nice school known as Lopez Grammar School, about 3 or 4 blocks to the west of Seal Avenue. At that time at the entrance of Seal Ave to Howard Avenue there was a great big oak tree that the road was built around - in later years in the 60s or such the tree was cut down.
Across the street from this house was the Huggins Family, Mr. Huggins was the Deputy Sheriff, Mrs. Huggins was a housewife, and they had two children, a daughter named Virginia and a son named Cleve. Virginia liked tap dancing and Cleve was an alright guy; in fact, he is the only one still living, and like his father he became a full Colonel in the Army; Cleve now lives in Ocean Springs, MS. To the South of the Huggins home was the Walter Wilkes Sr. home, and he along with his brother, Eugene owned the Daily Herald.
North of the Huggins Family was the Chinn Family from where a fellow my age became a Vice President of Ford Motor Company in Chicago. North of the Chinn family was Mother Guice, whom I remember very well, because I was appointed to be her errand boy and was pleased to run her errands whenever I could. North of her house was the Tucie family, who owned land on through to Iroquois St and had some nice milk cows in the back lot. His sons later-on became Presidents of the People's Bank. North of them was the Watts Family - they were related to the Guice's; and, Mr. Watts was an engineer who became blind - they were nice people. North of them was the Elder family; Mr. Elder was in the music business and was an expert in tuning pianos. Their son Maurice was a very good friend of mine and married Beula Mae Harkness, a member of the Wilkes family. Now back to north of 508 Seal was the George Wilkes family; one daughter was Mercedes taught school; in fact, she was my teacher in Dukate School, and a very good one. In fact, she was the one who tamed down a student named Smith Nelson, who had a habit of getting up and running on top of the students desks and such. George Wilkes, Jr. and his younger sister and I used to play golf at the Old Biloxi Country Club, - where Keesler AFB is now.
South of 508 Seal is the house of Gus Barthes, who was one of the Fire Chiefs there in Biloxi; and south of him was the Francis Barthes Family. Francis Sr was in the drayage business, they used horses and mules and then converted to the big Stanley Steamer trucks and such. Francis Jr was a good friend of mine and he ended up being in the oil business in South America, and his younger brother Aloysius became a Navy Pilot in WW2 and Rear Admiral. I recall seeing him and his sister Erin at Francis's funeral back a few years ago.