The Personal Histories
Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride
OUR THREE CHILDREN
We expected the arrival of our first child in January. Two weeks before the day, though, if I had already had the experience of delivery, I would have sworn then that the time of arrival had come. But, only a false alarm. Lucky me; I could continue a bit longer in discomfort. On January 7, I had driven from Solomonville to Thatcher, where a group of us young married women were enjoying each other's company. We may have been playing cards.
The get-together lasted later into the night than expected. The weather had changed for the worst and sleety rain falling in the dark night worried me regarding the ten-mile drive home. I phoned Darvil at Aunt Nell’s and Uncle Less's, where we’d lived during that school year of teaching in Solomonville. I asked his permission to stay the night at Mama's. He agreed that under the circumstances it would be best, for which I felt a relieved appreciation toward him.
In the middle of the night my water broke; I knew the time had finally arrived. Mama called Dr. Platt and a woman in Pima we had arranged with to be the nurse. The good doctor soon arrived, but several more hours passed before the event. The next day, January 8, 1935, our first arrived a little after 11:00 o'clock in the morning. We named him, Darvil David, after his Dad and my Dad. My husband insisted we call him by his name, and I insisted we call him by my dad's name. Disturbed with each other for refusing to budge an inch -- we just called him Mac.
He weighed well over nine pounds. We thrilled over him, a beautiful baby in perfect form and health, He was born in the front bedroom; the same room where my baby sister Jean, who we've all loved so much, had been born five years before, when I was eighteen -- I well remember that special day too. Jean's and Mac's births happened in the same room that Eleanor and I shared as teen-agers growing up and as young women. These precious times in history took place in the room of our red brick house, the house built by Darvil's Grandfather Sims and his son Uncle Oscar; the house that Mama always wanted so desperately, that Dad bought for her.
In those years, new mothers, according to doctor’s orders, had to stay in bed for at least a week before being up and around. I stayed the week at my mothers, where the baby was born. Darvil, after each school day drove to Thatcher to be with me and the baby during the afternoons and on into the late evenings before having to return to Solomonville.
Mac started life as a beautiful and good baby, and he grew to be a good child and a beautiful child. An easy child to have around and exceptionally loved, he was the second grandchild and first grandson born to my mother and father's family. And next door, his Grandma McBride and Frankie, Darvil's youngest sister, they too thought him very special and helped to care for and tend him. Our first hardly had a chance to be a baby before the second came along thirteen and one-half months later.
The third year Darvil taught in Solomonville, we lived in one of the apartments above the Drug Store (formerly the Solomon Commercial Building, which the first Valley National Bank in Arizona occupied. See explanation in Darvil's history). We waited expectantly for our second baby to arrive sometime in February. The time for the new one came closer day by day. Taking precautions, we'd planned a way for me to relay the news to Darvil at his work, just a long block away at the elementary school. We had no phone, but the Drug Store below did. With the drug store people cooperating, we decide that when the time came, I would pound on the apartment floor as the signal which they would hear below, and they would phone Darvil.
My friend through childhood, Alberta, came to visit me on the day the pains started. They soon grew so intense, we knew, and we began pounding on the floor. We pounded and waited and we pounded and pounded and waited and pounded, pounded, pounded and waited. We decided for Alberta to rushed down below and use the phone herself. She called the school asking for Darvil, but he was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, we phoned Dr. Platt and the nurse with whom we'd previously arranged to help me. Dr. Platt arrived, but still no husband. Finally, to my great relief, Darvil walked in the door only minutes before the doctor delivered our second boy.
Jon Robert was born February 26, 1936. Another good and beautiful baby in perfect form and health blessed our lives. We felt so fortunate, so proud, so thankful and grateful for him.
When Jon grew old enough to walk well, I would see one boy alone and think, "Isn't he the cutest thing in all
the world." Then, when I'd see the other one I'd then think he must be the cutest one in all the world. But, when
one would run to the other, seeing them together, I thought, "They both are ten-times cuter together than I had
believed when I saw them separately." The feelings that welled up within me for those two, beautiful, sweet,
little boys continually warmed me as I watched them month after month continue to grow. Later, people often
asked me, "Are they twins?"
Seventeen months after Jon was born, the time had come for our third and last baby to arrive. I remember thinking that I would just turn over and die if the third one wasn't a boy too. I could only picture three little boys in my mind's eye.
Mama and Dad had gone to the mountains not knowing the time to be so near. This would be the first time they had been away during the birth of my babies. We lived in a Mexican-built house in the part of the little town where many of the teachers in the school lived. We had arranged for Mrs. Conder, not only our neighbor, but the wife of the school custodian to be my nurse.
After Dr. Platt drove in, about one o'clock in the afternoon of August 22, 1937, our baby girl, Sally Jo, arrived. A bit bald, she weighed nine pounds. When we saw how she looked, even though she was a her, all ideas in my mind of three boys melted away ceasing to exist. She was such a beautiful thing!
But, she worried us; I couldn't nurse her and she didn't gain weight; she developed very slowly. As I remember, three months later she had gained only one additional pound. We were very careful with her though and finally got her straightened out. By the time she reached the age of one, she'd grown lovely curls on that little bald head. Born beautiful, she grew up always beautiful and has stayed that way all her life.
Now, two small toddlers and a new baby complicated our lives. We really had our noses to the grindstone. To relieve the burden, we hired a darling twelve-year-old, little, Mexican girl, Rosara, who's sweet, lovely mother sent us tortillas, tacos or enchiladas with her daughter each day she came. She came to our home every Monday morning to help during the weekdays. On Friday afternoons as soon as Darvil got home from work, the mother picked her up to take home for the week-end. She helped us this way for eight weeks. But I think it became too much for a girl of her tender age to spend so much time away from her mother and family. She had been a lifesaver though, while she stayed with us.
A non-Mormon family, the Fredricksons, with many children, moved into our town from Alabama. They needed extra income because of tight finances. The oldest daughter of the family, a fifteen-year-old, baby-sat for us when we went out evenings. Soon though, she stopped helping us, but we hired Jackie, her younger, 13-year-old sister. Jackie could do anything and everything for the children and in the house that I could. The most darling girl, she fixed meals, put groceries -- their proper places -- and took care of the dishes, clothes, and all, doing everything on her own initiative. She was perfect; and the kids so loved her.
We stayed in contact with Jackie during her growing-up years, and as an adult. Though she married a member of the Church, the marriage failed. She then married Jim Gale, a good man, also a member of the Church. Finding happiness and fulfillment in the second marriage, she began to study the Church doctrine and became a member herself. She always said she had joined because of her experience with our family as a teenager. She named the first of their two daughters, Josephine, after me. We had known the parents of her husband Jim, before they married. They had raised their family forty miles to the east, in Duncan. Jim's first marriage had failed too, but he and Jackie found fulfilling happiness together. Jackie and her family eventually moved to Morenci.
After joining the church, Jackie always remained active. About seven years ago while serving in her ward as the Relief Society President she lost her husband to a fatal illness. Jackie’s opportunity came to fulfill one of her great desires, to serve as a missionary for the Church. Accepting the call when it came, she served in the Salt Lake City area as a proslyting missionary, and she loved every minute of it. We haven't seen Jackie for many years, but each Christmas we receive a lovely news-filled letter from her.
Soon after we moved into the new Solomonville house, we hired another girl to live with us to help with the children. She was the niece of Shorty, the owner of the very well known and popular Mexican food restaurant to which people of the Valley came from far and wide. Lucile, our new help, had come from Miami where her mother lived. She came to stay with her aunt and Uncle Shorty in Solomonville. About fourteen years old: a beautiful, darling and dainty Mexican girl, she lived with us for a year. I remember how her mother kept her dressed so prettily in pinks and blues. The last time we saw her; she, with her husband and their oldest boy came to our fiftieth wedding anniversary (1983) at our Villa Street home in Pasadena. Still beautiful, her husband acted so sweet and appreciative toward her, and their son showed such admiration for his parents.
Several cute memories remain with me of our children as little ones, while we lived in Solomonville. I'll share a few: The Christmas we lived in the house where Sally was born, Santa Clause brought Mac and John a foot-peddle, red fire engine and a tricycle. How they loved to play with them. They would ride them for hours on end, taking turns trading vehicles riding them on the rocky dirt road in front of the house. They stayed in good condition, and we had them after we moved into the new house. They rode them in the yard and street there until we had to leave them when we moved to California.
Both boys loved bugs; it even rubbed off onto Sally too. At about three and four years of age, I dressed them in light blue and white, pin-striped, cotton overalls. They looked just like the kids of the transient cotton pickers that swarmed to the valley during the picking season. Almost every day, each with a spoon, went out the back door to dig in the damp dirt along the shady edge of the garage in search of bugs. Their trophies were usually sowbugs, earwigs or a worm.
The good woman who acted as my nurse while convalescing after Sally Jo's birth, lived across and up the street from our new house. A very large and heavy woman, she died about a year after we became her across-the-street neighbor. Sometime after the funeral, Mac, a four-year-old of vivid imagination full of questions, talked to his dad about death, and where Mrs. Conder had gone. He sat on the floor in front of the couch where Darvil rested, as I listened to the conversation. Darvil explained that she had gone to heaven, and because she had always been a good person she had become an angel. Mac, absorbing it all and picturing her in his mind as he had always known her, big and fat, pondered it all for a moment and then said, half under his breath, "Big Old Angel!"
Mac and Jon loved to play Superman and Captain Marvel, comic book superhero-favorites of theirs. I safety-pinned the corners of towels around their necks for makeshift capes, and they would tear around the house, leaping, chasing and jumping off and over furniture. Outside, they jumped off the back porch, boxes and whatever else they could find, flying through the air as best they could.
The day before, we’d had a simple discussion with Mac about faith. On this occasion, with the new concept fresh in mind, he climbed onto the couch, then up a bit higher onto the arm. There he stood, poised and ready for the takeoff. With near perfect faith he assumed the proper Superman, flying position, arms outstretched, hands together, he launched out in a prone position. He sailed out over the floor, still maintaining the proper attitude, albeit a very short way, with near but not quite prefect faith, for he crashed in a flat belly-flop banging his little nose and face soundly against the floor. He sat up teary eyed in pain, but cried more from disappointment than hurt, because he couldn't really fly.
A wiggle worm: an apt description of Jon, for he lived up to it well. Whoever he chose to climb into bed with, bless their hearts, including ours, couldn't stand his wiggling for long. One time in Thatcher, he climbed in bed with his Grandmother Nettie, my Mama, squirming and wiggling as usual, Mama finally said, "Jon, for heaven sakes quit that wiggling!" "But Gwandmudda," he said in his little boy's brogue, "I can't get cumftable."
Regarding Jon's mode of speaking: For the longest time he couldn't pronounce his Rs. He would say mudda for mother, boe-ud for bird or board, and pupul for purple. He talked so cute; he enchanted people. As they listened, they would watch with smiling faces as they hung to his every word.
The movie theater in Safford sponsored amateur talent contests for children of all ages who dared appear before the lights. We entered Jon in the competition. When his turn came, he stood right up to the microphone in front of the full house. The master of ceremonies called him by name asking his age. "I disabout twee." He answered. When asked if he had a poem to recite -- in a big, little boy's voice -- into the microphone he began:
"Hi didoe didoe, da cat an da fiddoe,
da cow dumped obu da moon.
da widdoe dog wafft to see suts spoe-ut,
an da dish wan away wid da spoon.
He was a perfect darling. He won that night and got a prize too, but I don't remember if it was first, second or tenth place.
While Darvil served as the Principal at the Elementary School, Miss Esber, a darling young woman, taught the kindergarten class. At age four, Mac was eligible to attend. The teacher said to me, "Well you can let Jon come to kindergarten too." So, Jon went along to school with Mac each day. Before they finished kindergarten, Mac would attend for two years and Jon for an unprecedented three. Jon always liked school, but after Mac’s first day of it, he lived through every school year with an eye only for the arrival of summer vacation, detesting every last school day of his life.
Sally Jo was a sweet, beautiful, little girl, and so pretty to look at. Each year the school celebrated Armistice Day with a children's parade. It wended its way along several of the town's dirt roads. A four-year-old at the time, Sally Jo had been chosen to be queen of the parade. We have movie film of it, showing her riding along on her miniature float. I can see her clearly now: how cute she looked dressed as a little queen waving her scepter. The two boys marched along in the parade too, dressed in their cowboy, western shirts I'd made.
Sally Jo, besides being cute and pretty was petite. I thought for sure she would eventually be like her Great- grandmother, my Mother's mother, Nonnie: a delicate woman, not more than five-foot-one; and she wore such tiny shoes. But not to be, for she grew to be closer to my height, about five-five.
In May of 1942, we moved to California. The school year started in September. While living in Newport Beach, Sally Jo, Jon and Mac: ages five, six and seven, started school at the Newport Beach Elementary School in the first, second and third grades.
Early each morning, Darvil left for Long Beach where he worked his short-lived delivery route as a milkman. Once in a while, he would catch a ride with a friend. When that happened during the summer while the kids were out of school, the three of them and I often drove up the Coast Highway to Long Beach to spend the day and to picnic at the city park. It was pleasant in the grassy park in the shade under the sprawling limbs of big trees. Such an enjoyable change of pace.
We fed the pigeons and the boys spent most of their time trying to coax them to eat from their hands. (If it should ever happen, either one would have made a quick grab.) But that didn't work, so they would wait for pigeons, sparrows or blackbirds to light on a big birdbath set on a high pedestal. While the bird began to drink or bathe, they would sneak up under it from the opposite side and quickly reach up to try to catch it. Though they caught lots of butterflies from the plants and flowers, they never succeeded in catching a bird. When Darvil finished his day, he came to the park to enjoy it a while with us, then, we'd drive home to Newport Beach together. Newport Beach for me at that time was heaven -- and it still is.
Before the kids started school the next year, we had moved down the peninsula into Balboa to a corner house on Seventh Street and Balboa Boulevard. Sally Jo, a six-year-old in first grade, rode the buss to school. At the end of the first school day she didn't get home as scheduled. Petrified, in terror, I took immediate steps to find her. After what seemed an eternity, a police car stopped at the house and Sally got out. She had found the right buss and boarded it, but she missed getting off at her stop. The buss driver, naturally, continued on unaware of any abnormality through his entire route. However, when he finished, he still had a little girl on board. She hadn't been at all afraid and arrived home as happy as ever. But, I had been nearly out of my mind with worry.
I remember Sally Jo at about eight years old after we’d moved to Wilmington. I made a paper costume for her for a school class presentation part. She looked just adorable in it, with her long curls hanging down over her shoulders. We have photographs of her in it.
While in the seventh grade living in Wilmington, Mac joined a basket ball club. He knew his dad had been a wonderful ball player and he had an interest in athletics too. He became friends with a boy who played, and the club invited him join. He looked so cute and nice in his players garb.