September 21, 1994 by Lee Hendrix
Born – 1/19/1926 Shawnee, Oklahoma (Birth certificate says Meeker, Oklahoma
Blood type – “O” Neg.
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
Enlistment Date: 8 MAR 1944
Enlistment City: Fort Mcpherson Atlanta
Terms of enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law.
Marriage to: Catherine Virginia Toole
Marriage Date: 8 JUN 1947
Father – Hollie Gilbert Hendrix – Born 12/25/1892 – Jasper, Georgia
Mother – Bertha Mary Mae Roper – Born 1/19/1896 – Ball Ground Georgia
I was born in Shawnee, Okla., sort of by accident, my dad, born into grinding poverty in the hills of North Georgia, had turned to the manufacture and sale of White Lighting and was warned by the sheriff that the Feds. were going to send him to prison if he were caught again. Dad took a vacation to Oklahoma, found a job and sent for my mom and family. Mom and kids (5) took the train to join my dad. We moved into a little house without a hint of insulation on the prairie where the wind blew across the planes so hard it would hold a roaster up against the fence until it starved.
I don’t remember anything about Oklahoma, by the time I could walk, we bought a 1925 Model T Ford which had a body like a moving van, except it was equipped for living. I think it was the first motor home. We (my brother Carl) drove this thing to Chandler, Arizona, where we had relatives (Fields) who gave my Dad a job at a dairy. I remember a few things about Arizona, our neighbor was a Mexican family who had a son about my age, we played together. An airfield was nearby, so brother Carl hung out there and began to work on airplanes (it later became Thunderbird Field). My little brother named Jessie died. We became friends with the funeral home owners who had a small boy my age. He had a “pedal car” which we rode a lot. I was bad sick in Arizona with Typhoid and pneumonia at the same time. The Doctor told my Mom to feed me raw eggs, which I liked. I was allowed to go to the nest and get an egg anytime I wanted. One day I found a guinea nest with lots eggs so I had one – it was not a good egg. The mamma guinea had been “sitting” on the nest for several days. Have you heard the expression “That broke him from sucking eggs”? Well, it did. After that, I would bring my egg to Mom to inspect.
We had a car called a “Hudson” and my Dad decided to learn to drive it. The roads in the West are usually arrow straight and go East and West; turns were abrupt – 90% right or left. The Hudson had a throttle on the steering wheel you set at the speed you wanted, say 40 or 50mph. Well my Dad set the throttle at about 50 and started out – the road had a 90% left turn, when Dad got to the turn, he didn’t change the throttle so when he made the turn, the Hudson slid off the road and wiped out about one hundred yards of a neighbors garden – forget drivers ed/
Arizona is flat and near desert and in order to make it bloom, irrigation canals crisscrossed the state. One ran near our house and all the kids played near it. One day I fell in and could have drowned but my cousin Ann pulled me out. My Mom had visitors but that didn’t stop her from undressing me in front of half dozen ladies. To this day I can’t undress in a crowd of ladies.
At about age of 4 or 5 we decided it was safe to return to Georgia so we bought and MC Chalmere touring car (topless) and headed East. I slept most of the way but remember Texasanne and later when we had some brake repair and the mechanic left a vital key out and about 40 miles later we lost the left rear wheel – it jumped off the car with a jolt and skid and passed us like we were standing still (which we were) so we spent the night in a near by Cotton Gin, sleeping on cotton seed, while my my brother hitch-hiked back to get the parts, after which we sailed on to Georgia in the big touring car. The clutch burned out and since we were poor 10 kids and in the midst of the great depression, the poor old GMC Chalmers sat right there and rotted. A new clutch could have been had for less then $3.00.
Poverty was complete in the South after Sherman burned a great part of Georgia and all you could hope to do was survive. The place we had rented was not fit to farm so we harvested some corn, potatoes, peas, beans, and other things to eat, including a large watermelon patch, while Dad looked for a suitable farm to sharecrop, and a pair of mules and wagon to give us some mobility. We moved to a run down place and started over. We had some 10 acres of cotton, 20 acres of corn, and 5 or 10 acres of field crop, and a big garden. We also acquired some chickens, a cow and some pigs. We could and did eat.
The routine was, plant in April, keep the grass and weeds out by hoeing and plowing, working about 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. Harvest sweet and iris potatoes, store in earth tee-pees, cut wheat by hand , pick cotton 2 or 3 times, put hey, corn etc in the barn. We would cut about an acre of syrup cane and make 40-50 gallons of syrup to last a year.
The winter was spent cutting a mountain of wood to feed the fireplaces and stove, mending fences and caring for the livestock. What we needed for food we bartered with butter and eggs from my Mom’s storehouse. We also processed peaches, apples, berries and other goodies. This is the place I started to learn to pitch left handed. One day about the middle of June, I picked up s a peach and took aim at a nice chicken, I hit her in the head and she hit the ground. I was in deep trouble since a good chicken was more than me, I didn’t once consider confessing to my Mom so we could have a treat for supper. I dug a shallow grave and covered the big pullet with chips and leaves. A little later I thought the devil was after me when I heard chicken sounds coming from a place where no chickens were so I quickly dug up my buried chicken and she trotted uncertainly off squaking – no more chicken target.
I had some how learned to read that year but being only 5 didn’t qualify for 1st grade, so my sister Eula took me to the school and had me read for the teacher. (Mrs Sanders) at the one school house in the community of “Steal-easy”. She admitted me.
One day a really big boy rolled or heaved a bg rock at me and I picked it up and staggered toward the teacher – well, she thought I was chasing the big kid with the rock and gave me a lecture and made me “stay in”. I wasn’t about to walk home alone so when her head was turned I split., and that was that.
That year my Mom bought a a Singer Sewing machine and paid for it a $5 per year form her egg and butter savings.