(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley.com)
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A listing and access link to all:
song lyrics and mp3 audio files http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/ (all of which are a part of this Web site) can be accessed simply by selecting the "htm" file for the song you want;
quotations http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/quotations.htm; and
essays written by Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/articles_larry_blakeley.htm,
all of which are used to tell the story in this Web site, can be accessed by going to each respective link set out above.
My son, Larry Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/larryblakeley_photos_jpeg.htm manages this Web site.
Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)
When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play
No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye
- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins
MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm
For a larger image click on the photograph.
Roy James Blakeley
Major Roy James Blakeley's letters about his 19 days in Vietnam here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/major_roy_james_blakeley2.htm
Roy Blakeley on left, with his cousin, Doug here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/blakeley_roy_doug.djvu
My father, Roy James Blakeley was born in Wink, Texas on December 10, 1928.
64 years later, my mother (sitting alone with her memories) wrote this to no one, again - as always, about the birth of this child:
"Today, December 10, 1992 is the birth date of my darling. As I sit here today, I am trying to recall a scene from 64 years past and a woman is giving birth to a baby boy. It was December 10, 1928. The mother's name was Violet Mae Blakeley and the father was James Louis Blakeley. The birth was at home in Wink, Texas with Great Grandmother Blakeley attending her. They named the baby Roy James Blakeley. Violet's mother passed away when she was twelve so she grew up without a mother. That is why Grandmother Blakeley was there with her instead of her own mother.
This day will be special in my heart for the rest of my life - for the birth of this baby boy would in later years change my life forever.
It would have such an impact on my life that I would be changed forever.
You see I was not even born yet, not even thought of yet....seven years later I arrived; born at home to John Lewis and Edna Louise (Gideon) Ashton in Rotan, Texas. I am eternally grateful for having these two parent who loved me so much. I will not know love like this ever again since they have passed on.
At the age of 18 and 25 we were married after a three year romance. This love affair was to be one that took me from sheer ecstasy to despair.
Can't help but believe that their agreement was this before my father left for Vietnam:
"Meet Me in Heaven" MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/johnny_cash/meet_me_in_heaven.htm - in sweet ecstasy - again, Mother.
Our three children will not be able to know how it was for he is no long here nor the father and mother. When his mother passed on it was like my last link to him and the past was gone; except, for my children and they will only know what I can tell them..." - "My Darling," Johnnye Blakeley, December 10, 1992. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/johnnye_blakeley19921210.htm
As she wrote, Roy James Blakeley was the son of James Louis Blakeley and Violet (Vickrey) Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_violet_blakeley_oil_derricks.djvu. They were married on January 1, 1928 at the First Baptist Church in Lums Chappell, Texas http://www.royblakeley.name/lums_chapel_sign.djvu , located between Whitharral and Littlefield. Here is a photo taken of him when he was 4 months old http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/dad_1929.djvu . Here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_david_toddlers.djvu is a picture of him and his brother, David as toddlers and another here of my dad taken on July 4, 1930 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was 19 months old at the time.
Eannie Alleen (Swofford) Vickrey (born to Alleen (Braswell) http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/alleen_braswell_swofford.djvu and Alfred Adam Swofford http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/alfred_adam_swofford.djvu - it's my understanding that Alleen died while giving birth to Eannie in 1890. A photograph of Eannie Alleen, Edd, John, Florence, and Mamie Braswell here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/braswell_family.djvu
Eannie and Pa Vickrey had two sons, John (Jack) Vickrey, Jasper, Texas; Alfred A. (Shorty) Vickrey, Kermit, Texas and four daughters (Married names as of November, 1978: Violet Mae Blakeley and her twin, Viola Dalrymple, wife of J. Lester Dalrymple, Whitharral, Texas; Lorene Ward, wife of ________, Littlefield, Texas; and Jo Waters, wife of John Waters. Here is a photograph of Billy Waters, David Blakeley, Pa Vickrey, and my father. And, also is a letter dated September 2, 1960 from Pa Vickrey to his daughter, Violet. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_pa_vickrey19600902.djvu
A photo here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/eannie_vickery_girls.djvu of Eannie with her 4 girls before Shorty was born. Eannie Alleen Vickrey died in 1922. Violet and Viola were twins born on May 4, 1910 at Collingsworth, Texas. The Vickrey sisters in May, 1944 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/vickrey_girls194405.djvu and years later here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/vickrey_girls.djvu . A photo of my grandmother Violet and Viola here http://www.royblakeley.name/violet_viola.djvu . A photo of Shorty with Joe Slaughter after a deer hunting trip near Eden, Texas here in December, 1972. Some photos of Jo Waters and her husband, John Waters here http://www.royblakeley.name/jo_waters/jo_waters_directory.djvu . She is posing on a motorcycle I had while going to school at The University of Texas at Austin here http://www.royblakeley.name/jo_waters/jo_waters_motorcycle.djvu . This was at a Vickrey family reunion at New Braunfels.
For map information go to Texas Tech's map collection/library site here http://library.ttu.edu/ul/maps/ and for a digital gateway to Texas history at the University of Texas at Austin go here. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/index.html
In fact, Violet (Vickrey) Blakeley was one of the "belles" of a parade in Levelland in November, 1971 along with 2 other women "queens" who had won titles at box suppers in the earlier history of Hockley County - Mrs. Marjorie Pointer Crow of Ropesville (1933), Mrs. Beth Martin Keller of Cobleland community (1926), and my grandmother, Mrs. Violet Vickrey Blakeley of Whitharral (1927). Photo here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_box_supper_queens.djvu
What I remember most about them is their genuine goodness and the ability to laugh at themselves. It seemed the more they were teased, the more they enjoyed it. They really had a good sense of humor and never seemed to take themselves too seriously. They enjoyed each others' company very much. It showed when they got together. Laughter and kidding was the name of the game. You just couldn't meet nicer folks.
Mattie (Maberry) Blakeley, Gilmer, Texas was a native of McCauley, Texas. A photograph of her family taken in 1944 here http://www.royblakeley.name/maberry/maberry_group1944.djvu (from left to right (back): Lenard Maberry, Ben Maberry, Jhon Frank Maberry, Della Maberry, Dave Maberry, Mae Maberry, and Mattie Maberry; and in the foreground: Granny Maberry and Jin Maberry) and a reunion photograph taken at the Rotan Community Center in August, 1973 here http://www.royblakeley.name/maberry/maberry_reunion_rotan197308.djvu . My grandparents are in the back row.
Sam Blakeley and Mattie (Maberry) Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/sam_mattie_blakeley/sam_mattie_blakeley_directory.djvu of Gilmer, Texas had two sons, James Louis Blakeley and Lawrence Harrison Blakeley and five daughters (Married names, as of November, 1978: Lela Brawley, wife of Hugh Brawley, Gilmore, Texas; Bess Taylor, wife of Clyde Taylor, Houston, Texas; Anita Crisman, Deer Park, Texas; Juanita Oliver, Houston, Texas; and June Doughtie, Houston, Texas). A photograph of my grandfather with his parents here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/james_blakeley_parents.djvu . Sam and Mattie Blakeley's 50th wedding anniversary (December, 1953) with all the family, except Louis Blakeley. A photograph of James Louis Blakeley in February, 1953 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mattie_blakeley_50th.djvu .
Lawrence Harrison Blakeley died at the age of 59 in Tyler, Texas in May, 1968 (Obituary here http://www.royblakeley.name/lawrence_blakeley/lawrence_blakeley_obituary.djvu). He was married to Nancy Ella Blakeley and they had three sons, Bob L. Blakeley, Ramon E. Blakeley, Harold D. Blakeley, and one daughter, Mrs. J. B. Rogers.
James Louis Blakeley died in November, 1978. He had been a resident of Hockley County, Texas since 1966 after moving there from Las Vegas, Nevada. (obituary here). He was an extremely hard worker even in his twilight years http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_louis_blakeley_station.djvu running his Texaco station at Levelland, Texas. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_louis_blakeley_station.djvu
My Grandmother Violet married Walter Selcer http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_walter_selcer.djvu on July 20, 1980 in Levelland. Walter Selcer was a very kind and gentle man. My grandmother Violet died on December 16, 1990 at the age of 80. Her Memoriam and Obituary here http://www.royblakeley.name/violet_blakeley_obituary.djvu . A photograph of David Blakeley and his mother here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/david_violet.djvu .
Louis Blakeley and Violet Blakeley http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_kilgore_derrick.djvu settled in east Texas near Joinerville. A photograph of them together with derricks in the background here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_violet_blakeley_oil_derricks.djvu and on a surface location (drilling pad) here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_violet_blakeley_baby.djvu (baby held is unknown to me). They had two sons, Roy James Blakeley and David Cleveland Blakeley and they attended the Gaston school ttp://www.gastonmuseum.org/ at Joinerville http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/joinerville_texas.htm .
Some photographs of Violet Blakeley and someone else after fishing here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_friend_fishing.djvu .
My father and his brother, David, Kilgore oil boom days, 1933 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_david_kilgore_boom1933.djvu . A photograph of my father - barefoot on an oil stained east Texas road in 1935 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_east_texas_oil_field_road1935.djvu . You can see the oil tanks in the background. My father was a member of the Boy Scouts, Troop 218, Joinerville http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Extra_Photographs/rblakeley_joinerville_boy_scouts19410408.djvu . Portrait of my father and David here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_david_portrait.djvu
My grandfather, Louis Blakeley worked for Shell Oil Company http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_blakeley_shell_pipeline.djvu in the East Texas field http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/EE/doe1.html for many years. Grandmother Violet with an oil derrick in the background here http://www.royblakeley.name/violet_kilgore_derrick.djvu . James Louis Blakeley was a very hardworking man. He hurt himself while employed by either Shell Oil Company or Sinclair Oil Company and was not able to return to work for them. David and my father in May, 1938 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_david_friends193805.djvu and June, 1938 here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_david_horse193806.djvu
So, in 1942 they moved from Joinerville, Texas to Galveston, Texas for a couple of months. Louis Blakeley found work in a pipe yard and one of his fellow workers had received a letter from a friend in Waldron, Arkansas urging him to move their and go in partners in a business building bomb boxes for the war effort. He mentioned the letter to my grandfather and that he did not really want to do that. My grandfather said he would. So, the Blakeley family loaded up and moved to Waldron. during World War II. Here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/waldron_farmhouse.djvu is their Waldron farmhouse. The plant burned down just before they were to sign a contract on Christmas Eve, so they purchased some land outside Waldron (various photographs of the Waldron place here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Waldron%20Farm/waldron_farm_directory.djvu) used for raising livestock and went into the restaurant business http://www.royblakeley.name/waldron_blakeley_restaurant.djvu . This place was where my father and his brother, David spent their high school years. Photo of them together here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_david_suits.djvu
They sold their land and home to Ed Blackwell of Levelland, Texas.
My father graduated from Waldron High School, class of 1946 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/rblakeley_graduation_class_waldron1946.djvu (Senior picture here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_17.djvu). He graduated in December and entered the United States Navy less than a month after his 17th birthday.
While he was gone his brother, David took care of this calf http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Waldron%20Farm/david_calf_waldron.djvu of my father's so that after selling it later, he would have some additional funds after getting out of the Navy to go to college.
He was assigned to Navy ship PC-1244 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/navy_pc1244.djvu, based out of San Diego, California. I guess his first voyage out wasn't too pleasant. He's not feeling too good here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/navy2_sick.djvu . He's feeling better here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/navy.djvu
A group Navy photograph - my father is on the 4th row from the top, 3rd from the left. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/dad_navy_group.djvu
"Well the first of February I will commence receiving only ten bucks a pay day or twice a month. Won't be so bad if I make another rate in the next couple of months. From then on you will receive only (I don't know why I put only in there) a fifty dollar check from the government each month for about fifteen or sixteen months." - Roy Blakeley, letter to his mother dated January 24, 1946 from Long Beach, California. (typed version here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19460124.htm; DjVu original here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_letter_rblakeley19460124.djvu)
My father had saved up $500 by the time he finished college. He gave it to his mother to buy a car with. She paid him back, though. Some photographs of Violet Blakeley here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_blakeley/violet_blakeley_directory.djvu
A photograph of my father and his mother, Violet taken at Waldron in his Navy uniform here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_violet.djvu . A Western Union telegram from San Diego, California, dated August 7, 1946 and sent from my father to his mother here http://www.royblakeley.name/western_union_rblakeley19460807.djvu . His mother is shown here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/violet_blakeley_portrait195112.djvu in a portrait made in December, 1951 at South Plains Studio, Levelland, Texas.
Louis Blakeley lost everything he had when a herd of cattle acquired and fed for sale contracted some sort of disease that required extermination of the entire herd.
Louis Blakeley never had much for retirement until later in years when he settled in Las Vegas, Nevada. Since he was a gambler at domino halls - this was right up his alley. Here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_roy_johnnye19581212.djvu is a photograph of my father, mother, and Louis Blakeley at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada on December 12, 1958, a few days after my father's 30th birthday. My father was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base at the time. A photograph of my father, his father, Karen, Sharon and I taken in April, 1959 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_dad_kids195904_1.djvu . In this photograph my granddad Blakeley has his arm around my dad here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/louis_dad_kids195904_2.djvu
After his business failed, Louis Blakeley went to work on drilling rigs in Nolan County, Texas near Hamlin. In fact, Louis Blakeley's mother (Mattie) was a daughter of John Mayberry. These people originated from Alabama and settled at McCauley, Texas, Fisher County, not far from Hamlin. When the drilling company moved on to Fisher County, Texas, the Blakeley family moved to Rotan. This became a long history for Louis Blakeley (commonly known as "Blackie" around the drilling crews) moving from drilling location to drilling location and from state to state. It was very hard work, especially for the older men.
Rotan is where my father met my mother. My grandmother Ashton (affectionately called MeMa by the grandchildren) worked at George Riley's Drugstore. Here is a photograph of my mother MeMa, and Doris (Ashton) McCuistion http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_mema_doris.djvu and It was a combination drugstore and cafe where the old timers came in for coffee and ice tea and the younger group came in for sodas and malts. It was located on the main street of Rotan. My mother worked there after school and in the summers.
Here is a photograph of my mother at the drugstore in front of a mirror - taken by Wayne McCuistion. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_wayne_drugstore.djvu
Here is a photograph of my mother, Doris, and Wayne over 50 years later. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_wayne_doris.djvu
Wayne McCuistion and my mother's sister, Doris Ashton were married on September 7, 1946 at the Baptist Church Parsonage in Roby, Texas. They have two children, John McCuistion, Irving, Texas and Luona McCuistion, Gun Barrel City, Texas. Here is a portrait photograph of them taken in the summer of 1996 in celebration of their Golden wedding anniversary (50 years of marriage). http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/wayne_doris1996.djvu
Jim Owen - son of Valerie (Ashton) Owen - and John McCuistion throwing dirt on each other as children here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/jim_owen_john_mccuistion.djvu and my mother (still in high school) holding hands with each of them right after that here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_jim_john.djvu
Wayne McCuistion (November 1, 1928 - January 7, 2008) is another common, ordinary American man http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/common_ordinary_american_man_abstract.htm that has led his life under the principles and values of manhood contained in this Web site - a man that lifted himself up from a pretty tough childhood and made good of himself - a kind, gentle man. He grew up in Stamford, Texas. And, he's also a pretty good 42 player and bird hunter, himself. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/wayne_granddad_don_42_197312.djvu
The first meeting of my mother with my father that took place at Riley's Drugstore is described by her here. http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/mother_dad_first_meeting_email20041022.htm
Here is a photo of my grandmother and her daughters, Doris (Ashton) McCuistion and my mother. http://www.royblakeley.name/mema_doris_johnnye.djvu
Here is a photograph of MeMa, her sister, Winnie (Gideon) Combs, and her daughter, Barbara (Combs) Haltom taken at a drugstore Winnie owned in Loraine, Texas. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mema_winnie_barbara_drugstore.djvu
As a teenager, Barbara had her picture taken with Elvis Presley before he became famous. This treasured photograph was taken at a performance Elvis did in Sweetwater, Texas sometime in the mid-1950's. This photograph - reportedly - she keeps under lock and key. Her and her husband, Calvin Haltom live in Abilene, Texas.
Winnie Combs had a son, Joe Kenneth (here on a wagon pulled by two goats with his cousin, Gwendolyn Combs http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/joe_gwendolyn_combs1927.djvu) that was accidently killed by his cousin with a 22 caliber rifle - a brief story of the circumstances as told to me by my mother in an email - here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/email_from_mother_joe_kenneth_combs20041115.htm
This tragedy reminds me of an incident that occurred in my early life that nearly ended up the same way - except it would have been a drowning. The story about this near-tragedy is here. http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/day_let_guard_down20041116.htm
And, of course - if you are a parent - many of us selfishly feel the emotions about our own young, as expressed so truthfully in the song, "Souls of the Departed," Bruce Springsteen MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/souls_departed_springsteen.htm
Of course, this was before integration of the mid-1960's, so the blacks, as well as the hispanics (who were mainly migrant workers during the cotton harvest season) were allowed to enter the drugstore and purchase merchandise, but not sit to eat or drink. My mother and others working at the drugstore would have to tell them that they could not serve them. Within just a couple of years later (after marrying my father) such blatant and open discrimination because of race or color is not visible as such on the military bases they were stationed at.
My father and his brother, David would stop by after a hard days work on the drilling rigs with their father during the summers when home from college. My father and David were very hard workers, learned from tending to the Waldron place. Drilling rig work is both hard and dangerous type of work, especially when working on the derrick floor. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/derrick_floor.djvu
My father told my granddad Ashton many times, "John Lewis, there's 2 things I want from you - your daughter and your shotgun - in that order." My granddad told him, "Roy, I don't think I could do without that shotgun!" He did not get the shotgun. My grandfather loved my father from that point on. And, he wasn't your run-of-the-mill man - he grew up hard with nobody to take care of himself, but himself. He left home at 13 years old.
More about the second (and last) important man in my life, John Lewis Ashton, of many things - one of the best bird hunters (even when he became half blind) and 42 players I've ever known below. He came in and out of my life during my first 11 years on earth - as you will learn from this story - and, was there for me thereafter until his death in 1979.
But first, about the woman that loved him unconditionally - took care of him for over 50 years, took care of my mother and her sisters, and then followed that up by taking care of me and my sisters - the silent caregiver - and, I loved her as if she was my mother, Edna (Gideon) Ashton (1912 - 1979), for in many ways she was that, also, to me and my sisters. They were married on December 1, 1928.
One day, as a child - my mother was watching her mother ironing their clothes - so she asked her what most children are wondering why we do what we do, as parents - this is my mother's poem about that day that describes what was most important to her about her life, and for many of us - our lives, too. They taught this to all that depended upon them to exist - in different ways, perhaps, but still the same lesson of the meaning of life. It's the same theme throughout this entire Web site about our family.
One day while cleaning, sorting one thing and another
I found an old rub-board that belonged to my mother
Worn and battered, it tells of the day,
She washed our clothes in the old hard way;
Now the wood of the rub-board like her hair has turned gray
For others she lived; for them she did pray
Her presence to the sorrowed was like a sunshine ray
Why do you work so hard? childishly I'd say,
"I do it for love," she replied
And that is my pay.
- "My Mother," by Johnnye Blakeley, 1973
More about John Lewis Ashton here
Here is a copy of a letter from my mother to my father with a postal date of September 22, 1950 addressed to Roy Blakeley, Greagson Hall, Box 102, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_jblakeley_19500922.htm
When my mother met my father she was still a child of only 15 years old - barely past this stage in life of riding her bicycle, but a story of "true love" that ensued for the next 15 years, or so. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_bike.djvu
When you know this story you will know what true love is all about - between one man and one woman; a love that many dream about, but only read about - and you will know what it means to be a man.
My father expressed that love for my mother - and his family - even during those last few days of his life in July, 1965. We were his life - to know him is to know us. And - even to this day - my mother has never remarried.
So when they met my mother was still in high school. She is shown here in the August 15, 1951 issue of the Abilene Reporter-News with Shirley Parker and Shirley Dry at a cheerleader's clinic at Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/rotan_cheeleaders19510815.djvu
My mother was a cheerleader for Rotan High School during the following described 1953 incident regarding Mr. H. Govan:
"One incident was in 1953 when Rotan visited Throckmorton High. Govan needed a police escort to the stadium because of this small town’s hatred for blacks. An example of racial tension in this town was a road sign that said, “N----- don’t let the sun set on you in this town.” In another incident the team was eating a pre-game meal at a restaurant when the café owner told Govan that he wasn't allowed to come inside. As a result, the whole team got up and left the restaurant leaving several dozen steaming steaks for the café owner to eat. In both of these incidents, Govan’s response was to ignore the situation. He did not really care that he was black. He thought that every man should be treated equal." - "Breaking the Racial Barrier: One Man's Influence on a Community," Bo Weathersbee, October, 2000. DjVu version here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/bo_weathersbee20001020.djvu; PDF version here. http://legacyfamily.org/resources/mrh.pdf
This incident is peculiar to me only in terms of the practice still in existence at the time of refusing to serve the black or hispanic person at eateries. But, I am well aware of the feelings that many (including me) had about Mr. H (Govan). But, I can tell you that my favorite black woman in the summer of 1965 was "Mabel" (never knew her last name). She was the cook at the City Cafe that my granddad Ashton would take me every day. I sat in the booth, or on a stool at the counter listening to my granddad and the other old timers tell their tales. And, every day my granddad would turn to me and say, "Son, do you want a burger?." Boy, did I. Mabel made the best burgers on that greased griddle and she always told me she was going to make her best one just for me.
Here is another story about Mr. H Govan told to me by Jerry Waggoner:
"I'll never forget one instance. I was out of high school and had not yet decided to enter the Army. Back in those days Bill Day and Shed Ragsdale, with a couple of other guys, always went to the state Golden Gloves tournament in Fort Worth. It was that time of year and the trip was planned.
Ms. Ragsdale's sister's house burned in Roswell and asked me to drive her there so the boys could go watch their fights. We returned from Roswell late at night and left Post, going through Clairmont, when the right rear tire on the Ragsdale's old swept back Buick, about 47-48 vintage, I think. It had the old fender guards on the wheels. Well, the spare was flat and the fender guards were rusted on so Garta (sp) said 'just drive the damn thing on in.' By the time we reached Clairmont there was nary a vestige of tire remaining - only rim.
We stopped in Clairmont and luckily there was a phone booth there in those days. She made a call and returned and said someone was coming to pick us up. I asked who and she said I would see. It was H Govan. He had to get up and drive the 40 miles to pick us up - at about 3 a.m...." - email from Jerry Waggoner to Larry Blakeley dated 26, September, 2004.
"Gimme a Gee! Gimme an Ohhhh! Gimme a V-A-N! GOVAN!" http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/mr_h_jerry_waggoner.htm - an article written by Jerry Waggoner, Executive Sports Editor, The Bryan-College Station Eagle, about the life of Mr. H (Henry Govan), Rotan High School Yellowhammer's one and only "water boy for 59 years." The accompanying photograph with that article is here (2,273 words). http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/henry_govan300dpi.djvu
Twenty years later, as described in the same article written by Bo Weathersbee, my sister, Karen was a cheerleader for the same high school when this dedication to Mr. Govan was held during the half-time of a football game:
"In another occasion, Govan was honored at halftime at a Rotan Yellowhammer football game. Football was a main interest of many small towns in Texas and because of this there was a large crowd at the game already. Since 'Mr. H' meant a lot to the town of Rotan the rest of the town was there to cheer for him." - "Breaking the Racial Barrier: One Man's Influence on a Community," Bo Weathersbee, October, 2000.
For several years I was a member of the Fisher County Junior Sheriff Posse. We would go to local towns and participate in parades with the senior group. On several occasions Mr. H. L. Davis would offer to take my horse in his trailer. H. Govan was his driver for many years. A photograph of my granddad Ashton, our horse - Midnight, and me here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/larry_granddad_midnight.djvu
I just cannot express better than this what my soul aches for every single day, now "Country Boy" MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/johnny_cash/country_boy.htm.
Life for me just isn't the same anymore.
On one occasion, after a parade in Snyder my mother and I walked into a restaurant to eat afterwards and H. Govan was sitting at a booth in the back by himself. My mother went over to him and invited him to sit with us to eat - and he did. He was a quiet, soft- spoken, and giving person - never really thought much that his skin was a little darker than mine - everything else reminds me of what kind of man I decided to become years later.
Actually, it wasn't until we went back to civilian living that summer of 1965 that I even knew of segregation based on race and color. At Rotan, a large percentage of the blacks lived on one side of the railroad tracks and all of the whites on the other. The only theatre in town, called the Lance Theatre, had a separate entry that the blacks entered. This entry led to the balcony upstairs. The other entry was used by everyone elso. However, I don't know whether that was a rule ,or not. I would be very surprised if it was. It would not surprise me in the least that the blacks considered that their turf since it had been for so many years prior. There was no public school segregation, or the segregation that my mother experienced will working at Riley's Drugstore in the early to mid 1950's. The segregation that existed was more superficial than actual. The black families had been in that area of town for many, many years. I would think their houses were paid off and handed down from one generation to another. Their churches were located there, also. Their families were there, also.
The Armed Forces had been proceeding with desegregation beginning in September, 1945 in an investigative mode. However, it wasn't until 3 years later that President Truman actually signed Executive Order 9981, which states "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." See "Chronology of Desegregation of the Armed Forces: Chronology," http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/desegregation/large/deseg1.htm
Possibly, the following song is one that my mother thinks about every now and then:
I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way
- "I'll Be Seeing You"
MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/i_will_be_seeing_you.htm
Words and Music by:
Irving Kahal / Sammy Fain, 1938
On her senior trip horsing around with schoolmate, Murrel Sims (now Murrel Purkhiser) http://www.royblakeley.name/directory_johnnye_murrel.djvu
My mother's senior portrait here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/johnnye_ashton195305.djvu
My father graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, class of 1952 (a portrait photo taken when he was 20 years old (1949) at Fayetteville, Arkansas here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_20.djvu). Here is a Western Union telegram from Roy Blakeley to Miss Johnnye Ashton. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/western_union_johnnye_ashton.djvu
Photo of Roy and David Blakeley on Easter Sunday at Waldron here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_david_easter.djvu . Another photo of the approximate time period of the two of them together here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_david_waldron.jpg . The Blakeley's Waldron farmhouse here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/waldron_farmhouse.djvu . David holding a calf here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/david_calf_waldron.djvu . A photo of David and his mother in later years here. A portrait photograph of James Louis and Violet Blakeley here.
He received a commission as a second lieutenant by appointment letter dated May 26, 1952 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/reserve_appointment19520526.djvu, having completed the ROTC program. My mother and father in May, 1952 here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_johnnye195205.djvu . A photograph of my parents taken along the side of Riley's Drugstore, Rotan, Texas on Christmas Day, 1952. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_johnnye_rotan.djvu
By Air Force Reserve Order No. 175, Paragraph 36 dated September 9, 1952 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/reserve_order19520909.djvu, my father was directed to report to Brooks Air Force Base, Texas http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/print/BB/qbb5.html for preliminary processing.
Here is a copy of a letter from my mother to my father with a postal date of October 23, 1952 addressed to 2nd Lt. Roy J. Blakeley, 3308 Pilot Training Squadron, Class 53-G, Box 514, Stallings Air Base, Kinston, North Carolina.
My father began pilot training http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/pilot_training_bryan.djvu (note someone's leg on the opposite side of the airplane - don't know the reason for this) on November 3, 1952 at the 530th Pilot training wing, Bryan Air Force Base, Bryan, Texas as a student officer.
Here is a 1st Solo Flight Certificate issued to Roy James Blakeley on the 8th day of January, 1953 for his first solo flight in a North American T6-G at Greenville Auxiliary Field, Greenville, North Carolina (Serv-Air Aviation Corporation, USAF Contract Flying School - Primary, Stallings Air Base, Kinston, North Carolina). http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/certificate_solo_T6G_19530108.djvu
My father's Primary Pilot Training, Certificate of Proficiency issued by the Air Training Command at Stallings Air Base, Kinston, North Carolina, May 8, 1953 here. http://www.royblakeley.name/proficiency_certificate19530508.djvu
My mother's graduation portrait here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/johnnye_ashton195305.djvu
The first letter to my mother from Lyndon Johnson dated May 15, 1953 in his capacity as United States Senator and Democratic Leader from Texas. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_lyndon_johnson19530515.djvu
The second letter to my mother from Lyndon Johnson dated August 6, 1965 in his capacity as The President of the United States. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_lyndon_johnson19650806.djvu
My mother, Johnnye Ashton http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/johnnye_ashton19530614.djvu and my father got married on June 14, 1953 at the Weathersbee Chapel in Rotan, Texas. Carl Underhill was the wedding pastor. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/carl_underhill19530614.djvu
Here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/bridesmaids19530614.djvu is a copy of the May 17, 1953 article in the Abilene-Reporter News announcing their engagement.
A Gift Tea honoring my mother was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Campbell on June 4, 1953 with the hostesses being:
Mrs. T. O. SoRelle; Mrs. Wayland Gray; Mrs. Hilton Cross; Mrs. Eugene Gladson; Mrs. Joe Henry; Mrs. L. D. Bridges; Mrs. C. F. Bickerstaff; Mrs. Leonard McCombs; Patsy Newton; Ouida Fillingim; Mrs. Billy Waddell; Mrs. W. C. Denton; Mrs. James Green; Mrs. Ruby Helms; and Mrs. Hugh Huckaby. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/gift_tea_19530604.djvu
Here is a copy of the wedding invitation card. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/wedding_invitation_card19530614.djvu
The wedding guests signed here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_wedding_guests19530614.djvu; the wedding party signed here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/wedding_party_19530614.djvu; and the hostesses of the reception signed here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/wedding_gifts_hostesses19530614_6.djvu
O happy day,
when a new household finds its place, among the myriad homes of earth
like a new star just sprung to birth ..."
- "The Hanging of the Crane,"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/lit/poetry/TheCompletePoeticalWorksofHenryWadsworthLongfellow/chap18.html
And, to help them get started in this new life's journey the kind folks of Fisher County, Texas sent with them many gifts. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_wedding_gifts_19530614.djvu
Here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/bridesmaids19530614.djvu is a photo of my mother's bridesmaids (from left to right), Ouida Fillingim and Ouida (Streetman) Waddell, Pat Riley (Junior bridesmaid); her matron of honor - sister, Valarie (Ashton) Owen and my father's best man - his brother, David Cleveland Blakeley - both together here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/david_val19530614.djvu
This new union of husband and wife - cutting the cake here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/cutting_cake19530614.djvu (the interesting thing about this photograph is that you can see the Junior bridesmaid, Pat Riley, smiling in the mirror on the wall) leaving the chapel here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/dad_mother_leaving_chapel.djvu - Mr. and Mrs. Roy J. Blakeley - left in this car and set up life together at 108A Hardy Street, Bryan, Texas. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_bryan_mother_dad.djvu
My mother and father photographed with Violet Blakeley here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_bryan_violet.djvu
A photograph of my father pouring a cup of coffee here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/dad_coffee_pot.djvu
A photograph of my mother sticking her tongue out at my father here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_tongue.djvu
Here is a Mother's Day card from Valarie (Ashton) Owen to my mother mailed from Irving, Texas to our home at Roby, Texas in May, 1969 http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_card_mothers_day_val_owen_196905.djvu. Both of my mother's sisters (as well as my mother) live in Irving and see each other often. My mother's relationship with her sister's is very important to her.
At this directory http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/ are copies of the original Marriage Rites:
File Name: directory_marriage_rites19530614.djvu
File Name: marriage_rites19530614.txt
This part of his flight training http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/Extra_Photographs/rblakeley_bryan1953.djvu at Bryan finished up by December, 1953 (see Class 53-G flight graduation here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/flight_graduation_bryan53G/flight_graduation_bryan53G.htm). Group photo of my father, and four other student pilots here http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/pilot_training_bryan_group.djvu . An official Air Force photo of my father taken of him on the steps of a Lockheed T-33A "Shooting Star" used as a trainer at Bryan here. Here is my father's flight logs for Student Time, 3530th Pilot Training Wing, Bryan Air Force Base, Texas for the Period of November 3, 1952 - December 1, 1953. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/blakeley_roy_flight_logs_bryan.jpg
For more information on the T-33A go here. http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/lockheed_t33.htm
So, my father wasted no time - on April 7, 1954, Johnnye (Ashton) had her first child - me and became my mother as announced here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory._baby_announcement19530407.djvu
My first easter card from my father while he was stationed at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas before we had a place to stay there. This may possibly be the only time I may have been "perfect" (albeit, arguably by some). http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/directory_baby_easter_card_larry19540416.djvu
Here are my first moccasins. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/moccasins_baby_larry.djvu
A photograph of my mother and father on the streets of Rotan here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_dad_rotan1954.djvu
I was born at Rotan, Texas and delivered by Dr. Johnson at the Callan Hospital. Shortly after I was born my father received orders for TDY ("temporary duty") to Japan. He left for Japan when I was around 6 weeks old and was there for about 3 months. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/dad_japan1954.djvu
A letter from Japan from my father to my mother dated June 7, 1954 here:
.".. Darling I love you so much. It's really hard for me to express my feelings - just remember darling We are the same as one.... " http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/letter_rblakeley19540607.htm
Here is a photograph of my mother holding me up on a bed while I am looking at my father's photograph taken upon graduating from flight training school http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/roy_blakeley_bryan.djvu. You can see a portrait of Doris (Ashton) McCuistion on the wall. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_baby_larry_dad_portrait.djvu
Here is a photograph of my mother at home in Rotan with her sister's (Valeries) son, Jim Owen looking on. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/mother_jim_owen1954.djvu
In terms of this story what is the most significant result of my father's trip to Japan? He learned about cutting edge (at that time) video and audio equipment.
Here is a photograph of my mother holding me when I was about 6 or 7 weeks old right before my father had to leave for Japan. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/bergstrom_559th_fighter_squadron/mother_baby_larry2.djvu We moved back in with my mother's parents until he returned. We met my father at the flight line at Bergstrom Air Force Base after he returned from Japan and stayed in an efficiency apartment until our house was built. We stayed in an efficiency apartment until our house was built. It was upstairs and one room with a kitchen and bath and according to my mother regarding their struggles with me:
"You cried because mother, daddy and I had been rocking you and we didn't have one (a rocking chair). Finally Roy was giving up and was going to buy a rocking chair and he happened to find out about pacifiers so he brought one home and it worked like a charm. When we moved into the house it seemed so big compared to our one-room apartment where you could see us all the time. You would crawl from one room to another and I could hear you on the hardware and tile floors going splat, splat as you crawled. Then you realized you were lost and you would cry for us to rescue you. It was so funny. Love, Mother"
"Well now on a summer night in a dusky room
Come a little piece of the Lord's undying light
Crying like he swallowed the fiery moon
In his mother's arms it was all the beauty I could take
Like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make
In a world so hard and dirty so fouled and confused
Searching for a little bit of God's mercy
I found living proof ..."
- "Living Proof," Bruce Springsteen, Album: Lucky Town, Columbia Records (1992) MP3 audio file/lyrics at http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/living_proof.htm
Upon his return my parents built a house in Austin. Their realtor was Darrell Hopkins and my parents built a house right across the street from the Hopkins family at 1502 Ridgemont Drive http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/bergstrom_559th_fighter_squadron/austin_home19551210.djvu . They became good friends and stayed in touch over the years. In fact, they came out to George Air Force Base to visit in the summer of 1964. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_james_blakeley/george_436th_fighter_squadron/directory_hopkins_blakeleys_196407.djvu
A photo of my father in a white coat at a banquet here. http://www.royblakeley.name/roy_blakeley_portrait_banquet.djvu