CLYDE NEELY October 2, 1888 August 15, 1953; 64 years old
By June Neely Morrison
Clyde Neely was born October 2, 1888, about 40 miles north of Birmingham, near Oneonta, Blount County, Alabama. He was the second son of William Henry and Ulah Neely. Although most of the family had at least two given names, he only had one, Clyde. He was, however, called "Jack" by the cowboys he worked with in his early adult years. I have seen a postcard addressed to him as Jack Neely. Perhaps being a second son, he tried harder; at least he became a very successful farmer.
Clyde and Minnie Mae Lehman, called Mae, had six children after their marriage in Henderson Texas. Lorena Mae was born in Henderson. Charles William, named for his two grandfathers, we think, was born at Glenfawn, Texas on December 21, 1915. Warren Roy was also born at Glenfawn. Henderson is in far East Texas, some 150 miles east of Maypearl in Ellis county where Clyde spent his boyhood days. Glenfawn is a rural community 18 miles south of Henderson. Both boys had nick names that stayed with them their entire lives. C. W. was called "Buck", allegedly because he resisted most suggestions, and W.R. was called "Jake" because he seemed to accept most any suggestion. Margaret Madeline and Eunice Inez (June) were both born in La Pryor, Texas. Dad’s brother Unice Roscoe Neely was living with Mom and Dad at the time June was born, so for a time his name was passed to June. lt did not stand for long because Margaret could not say Eunice. It came out Junice, and was shortened to June. The family moved to Arizona in late 1924, following after W. H. and Ulah by a few years. On March 4, 1925, Mom and Dad were forced to stop on the way to the hospital for Rex’s birth. They stopped at a farmhouse on McClintock Ave. just north of Southern Ave. in Tempe because Rex was in a hurry to enter the world.
Grandma Ulah made one prediction that did not come true. The prediction was that I, June, weighing five pounds at birth, would not survive. Obviously I did survive for at least 78 years.
During the time the family was at Glenfawn their home burned. Jake survived by someone rolling him in a mattress to keep him from burning as Mom was crying, "My baby is in there." That probably was shortly before the family moved to La Pryor.
Lorena and C. W. attended a few years of school in Texas. C.W. tells about driving a buggy to school and feeding the horse at noon, sometimes being late for class because of the feeding. All of the other children attended schools in Gilbert, Arizona. All graduated from Gilbert High School. All of the girls attended colleges or universities. Lorena graduated from Arizona Teachers College with a BA degree. Margaret attended three years at the University of Redlands, and June at the University of Redlands and graduated from Arizona State Teachers College with a BA degree and a teaching certificate. Her major was music.
Raising six children was difficult. Margaret remembers that Mom would pick cotton while keeping the current infant in a hamper at the end of the row until she came back again. She hesitated doing this because there were snakes in the area, but the good of the family came first. She always did her part of the work and possibly a little more. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 49. She lived almost another five years. She was very brave about her condition.
After Mom died, Dad married Mildred King. They were married for two or three years. He later married Sarah Cobb. Sarah and Dad were still married at the time of Dad’s death. Dad certainly worked also. About a year before he died he had a warning that his heart was not in the best shape. He lived two weeks after a heart attack and died August 15, 1953. That was the day that St. Joseph’s Hospital was being moved to it’s present location on West Thomas Rd. in Phoenix.
We all had chores to do around the home. Sometimes it was gathering eggs, raking the yard, cleaning chickens or cleaning house. The boys on the other hand had heavier work to do. It probably included chopping wood, chopping weeds or working in the fields. Sometimes, as with combining grain, they worked at night and slept in the daytime. Mom would cook biscuits, steak and gravy for breakfast since they had worked all night. In the summer when they slept during the day they slept in the basement area under the kitchen with a fan at the top of the stairs blowing over them to keep them cool. We as kids had to be very quiet in the kitchen so we would not wake them.
During the summer it was a challenge to get comfortable enough to sleep. Mom and Dad at one time slept in a completely screened space in the side yard during the hot nights. They later slept in a room built just larger than the size of a double bed, up a short flight of stairs north of the family room. As kids We would sometimes sprinkle the sheets with water so the evaporating effect would make us cooler. Some people would dip a sheet into water and blow the wind from a fan off of it. That had the same effect but it lasted longer than sprinkling the sheets.The boys slept upstairs in a sleeping room above the girls on the ground floor. Screen was on all four sides and shutters covered the screen when it was too cold or a storm came. This sleeping arrangement was standard for the older boys through their high school years.
Laborers were hard to come by so relatives often lived with the family. I can recall an uncle, a cousin and several non-relatives living with us while working on the farm. Some of them were mechanically minded and a great help to Dad. The boys learned to do all of the tasks: cutting alfalfa, disking, harrowing, plowing, and irrigating as well as some repair on the machinery.
At the time all of us were home, Mom was always busy. Saturdays she killed and dressed six chickens and baked six pies. Mom crocheted a large tablecloth during the time she was ill. It probably took two years to finish. Mom loved flowers. Visiting relatives had a tour around the house to view and talk about the plants and perhaps to exchange an off-shoot or two. Mom grew vegetables at the edge of the field. She grew black-eyed peas, okra, patty-pan squash and sometimes tomatoes.
We girls learned to cook, sew and do household tasks. Needlework and doll clothes kept us occupied during the summer months. The ONLY chore we were not required to learn was milking a cow. Our mother said that if we didn't know how, perhaps we ’d not have to do it. She felt it to be man’s work.
1929 and the depression caused all of us to be very careful with our money. Belt tightening was the order of the day. We always had plenty to eat but if we were denied a toy, we knew why.
When Mom and Dad arrived in Arizona they were Southern Baptists. They joined the First Baptist Church of Mesa which was Northern Baptist. Dad nearly always had a leadership role in the church and Mom played a supportive role. One of the rules of our family was that we could not read the Sunday "funny" paper if we did not get up before seven o’clock because otherwise we would not be dressed and ready for Sunday School on time. Both Mom and Dad had a strong faith in God’s eternal plan.
Grandma Ulah had a very positive influence on both her children and their spouses. My mother loved her mother-in-law greatly. They went on church retreats together on occasion. Margaret remembers Grandma Ulah’s death was a sincere cause of grief to our mother.
Dad was a good farmer. He experienced many soil types. Irrigation was critical to the success of the crop. In the early years, horses pulled the implements to till the soil. Marvin remembers they were still used in 1946 and 1947. In those years Dad cleared desert land for cultivation with teams of horses. Horses were often a topic of conversation at the lunch table. Paperwork was not Dad’s thing. Mom must have done most of it.
Most of the visiting relatives came on Sunday afternoons. The women would talk about their children and the men would talk about farming. Dad would from time to time take a five minute nap, even during a visit, and wake refreshed. His favorite place to rest during the summer lunch break was on the floor since it was the coolest place in the house.
Mom’s frugality showed in many ways. One day when she was wearing a dress with a small hole in the back, Dad put his finger in it and ripped it to the bottom so she would not wear it again. That is the only time I ever saw him do anything like that! Often times Mom sewed our school dresses from remnants she bought at Korricks, a Phoenix department store, on our weekly trip. Many times the errands included getting implement parts for repair, fresh produce (onions at 1 cent a bunch) and my piano lesson from Mr. Austin.
Mom’s wash day was on Thursday so there would be enough clean clothes for Sunday. She had a one room building as a wash house. Dad built a fire in the fireplace for hot water. The washing machine was an electric Maytag Wringer washer. There were three rinses ending with a bluing rinse for white clothes. The clothes were hung on the line to dry. Upon taking them down, they were folded or sprinkled for ironing the next day, thereby taking all day to complete the task. On those days, we nearly always had pinto beans since they could cook long hours without much watching. In later years Mom owned an ironer, or mangle. It was very useful for men’s clothing since they were standard. Today, I still have an ironer that belonged to Aunt Edna Neely.
The Lehman family had preceded our family’s move to Arizona. They lived on a cattle ranch in Southem Arizona on Cochise Stronghold Road. As children we would visit our Lehman grandparents on holidays. We slept on feather mattresses on the floor, ate sugary colored candies and gathered eggs for Grandma. We were very curious about the glass eggs that Grandma used to try to entice the hens into greater egg production. Behind the main house there was a smokehouse for curing pork.
Sometimes it would snow and the postman’s car tracks were all that could be seen in the driveway. Playing in the snow was great fun and later we warmed ourselves by a large potbellied stove that was stoked with dry yucca plants. What a mess for Grandma to clean up after.
Margaret and I would play with dolls and later paper dolls. We spent hours cutting out the clothes and dressing the dolls. Fashion was big even then. Entertainment was of our own making. The girls played with jacks or hopscotch and “Annie Over”. The boys played marbles, mumbly peg, and ballgames. They played baseball, basketball, and football during the teen years. Entertaimnent such as movies included almost exclusively the Shirley Temple movies. Radio programs were “One Man’s Family”, “Fibber McGee and Molly”, and “Amos and Andy”. At nap time Mom would sing or hum to Rex, “Lay down the shovel and hoe, pick up the fiddle and the bow”, or “Baby’s boat’s a silver moon sailing in the sky.”
Young men who farmed were exempt from military service after high school graduation in the World War II era. It was a natural choice for my brothers to choose to be farmers since they had worked beside Dad for their entire lives. C.W. farmed in and around the Gilbert/Chandler area after a few years in Califomia. Jake farmed in the Chandler/Chandler Heights area. And Rex in Chandler and the town of Maricopa.
Lorena taught school at Ft. Thomas and Bowie, and later married Verl Brown from Ft. Thomas. Margaret married C.V. Weldon and lived in Phoenix, Sedona, and Cottonwood. I married Marvin R. Morrison from Gilbert and we have lived here in Mom and Dad’s house for fifty seven years at this writing. Verl Brown and Marvin Morrison were farmers. C.V. Weldon was an estimator for Allison Steel and Co. before going into real estate.
We were all taught to be independent thinkers. We, of course, were required to obey our parents. At times I thought Dad was very hard on the boys. Rex would be spanked for playing with a neighbor too long. However, when it came to developing our own opinions, we could do that freely. We did not have to think with the pack. We were also taught to take care of ourselves financially so we could take care of others. Dad’s favorite tunes were “Skip to My Lou” and “There’s an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlor”. On occasion he would dance a bit to them.
During his Grandpa Clyde’s last illness, Richard Morrison remembers playing that his toy airplane was a crop duster, taking off and landing, flying low and turning, up and down Clyde’s bed and the chest of drawers.