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The Personal Histories

of

Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride

 
 

PLACES WE LIVED,

COLLEGE GRADUATION, TEACHING AND CHILDREN

 

After my third year of college at Flagstaff in 1933, which also included the summer session, we were married on August 18. The wedding ceremony took place on the front lawn of the Phillips home on Main Street next door to our home. After our ten-day honeymoon in a borrowed tent in the Graham Mountains, we spent the next four weeks living back and forth in our parents homes, until the new school year commenced (my forth year of college, 1933\34) in September, in Flagstaff.

 

We lived in what the school called the "summer cabins," down in the flats. The flats, so piled up with snow that they often suffered flooding in the winter. But, the school allowed the married couples who dared, and were willing to suffer through the capricious weather to occupy a cabin at no charge. We took the dare.

 

The tiny, one-room, rectangular building consisted of board siding nailed to the outside of the studs while the inside displayed only exposed 2x4 studs: bare of any inside insulation, boards or paneling. The stove sat not more than two feet from the bed: because of restricted inside space. During the nights, the temperature dropped so low that the wood in the stove had to be replenished between intervals of sleep several times each night.

 

Again that final year, I worked in the college library. I developed a great love for that job. I garnered invaluable information about books and literature and of course, I gained thorough understanding of the Dewey Decimal System of library book arrangement. The compensation for the library work paid everything except books. It paid the year's housing, tuition, and the cafeteria meal ticket. Since they punched the ticket for each meal, Jo and I ate a meal together in the cafeteria almost every day. Actually, the ticket provided me with three meals per day for the entire year: that equaled one and one-half meals per day for each of us. I think we only spent twenty dollars of our own money during the full school year. Thinking back, we really got by exceptionally well.

 

I graduated in May 1934 with a major in Social Studies and minors in Psychology and English with a degree in Education -- certified to teach. We returned to Thatcher for the summer and lived with Jo's parents until my first teaching contract with the Solomonville Elementary School would start in September. The salary during the first year of teaching paid eighty dollars a month over twelve months -- $960 per year.

 

We lived with Jo's Aunt Nell and Uncle Less Layton outside town in their ranch house about a mile and a-half from the school. We rented one room from them with bathroom privileges, access to a big refrigerator just outside the door and laundry facilities. Also they provided us with all the milk and cream we needed and vegetables from their ample garden. We usually cooked on a hot plate in our room. We rented there for the full school year. They were wonderful in every way with us. During that school year, (Mac) Darvil David was born January 8, 1935, though not in the Layton house, for Jo had been at her Mother's home, when her time arrived.

 

When school finished for the summer, we moved the ten miles back to Thatcher, where we lived in two back rooms of my mother's house: more like a separate apartment for us. Remember too, the McBrides and Jo's parents (the Phillips) houses were next door to each other.

 

Ready to begin my second year of teaching (1935/36) we moved back to Solomonville in September. We rented one of the two second story apartments above the drug store from a fine couple: They were very nice to us; we held them in high regard. On February 26, 1936, our second boy arrived, Jon Robert, thirteen and one half months after Mac. After the second year of teaching, we returned again to live in the two-room back apartment in my mother's house in Thatcher.

 

           The drug store building known as the Solomon Commercial building was originally built by I.E. Solomon, after whom the town received its name. There he established a thriving general merchandise business when the town was the county seat. Perhaps the second largest business of its kind in the valley, it provided the farmers, ranchers and residents a source of not only groceries and dry goods, but of all kinds of farm and ranch machinery, equipment and vehicles, including harness and saddle tack. Eventually, Solomon extended an addition from the south side of the building which housed building supplies and lumber. Then, he dedicated a room in one corner of the main building for a bank that he personally managed. It became the first branch of the Valley National Bank in Arizona -- destined to evolve to be one of the states ranking banks.)

 

Just before commencing my third year of teaching (1936\37), in the Solomonville Elementary School, we moved to a small house next to the big canal that passes through the middle of the town. Capus Motes owned it, and he invited us to occupy it early, at no charge, to add some improvements before school started in September. I spent several weeks installing an inside kitchen sink. The running water supply to the sink came from a big elevated tank I rigged just outside the kitchen. We kept it full from a well just outside the back door that had a hand powered pitcher-type pump. The place had deteriorated to a dilapidated shack, but, after the sink addition and lots of scraping, scrubbing, sanding, painting, patching and new wallpaper, it shaped up -- at least to the point that the wind didn't whistle unimpeded through the cracks.

 

Half-way into the 1936/37 school year, Harold Clark, the principal, accepted a job in Washington D.C. The School Board asked me to be the acting Principal for the remainder of the year: On January 1, I began my first administrative work experience. I guess the best explanation of the situation is to explain that I was a part-time principal; because I continued to teach classes too, as had Harold Clark before me. I truly loved the administrative part of the job, and I got along fine with no problems with the pupils or their parents. Moreover, the School Board evidently thought me capable and competent, for they hired me to the position permanently.

 

As a young teacher, evidently I looked younger than I really was, though I didn't think so. In attendance at many school board meetings, occasional problems beset the puzzled board members, all quite a bit older than me. Some had known me all my life, and often would say, with a wry smile and twinkle in their eye, "Well, let's ask the boy …." Actually, the board first appointed me to the position, right after I turned twenty-nine. So, after I turned thirty, the next time they pulled "the boy" quip, in feigned annoyance. I politely but firmly corrected them. I reminded them that I had reached thirty, and was plenty old enough now to not be called "the boy".

 

During the school year of 1937/38 we lived in the Wilson duplex house on the old Main Street in Solomonville. There, Sally Jo was born August 22, 1938, eighteen months after Jon. Good old Dr. Platt attended to that delivery as he had with the boys.

 

During the spring and summer of 1938, I took on a really tough job; during that time of our lives we busied ourselves to the utmost. In addition to tending to the needs of a spouse and the three children which were born within a period of less than three years, I started building our own home. I did everything, virtually by myself, except for the help from a couple of Mexican locals who made the adobes -- and I helped make those too.

 

Made of stuccoed adobe, this cute abode, with forced air heating, had a living room, kitchen, dinette section, bathroom, two bedrooms, hardwood floors and a basement. Later I added a ducted evaporative cooling system.  Soon I built a picket fence around the grass lawn yard and furnished the kids with a slide, teeter-totter and swing. We built the house on a corner lot we'd bought from Mr. Tidwell who lived two houses up the street next to the Church. Though everything had not been finished, such as half-painted stuff, rugs not down and all furniture not in, we moved into it before the start of the school year of 1938/39.

 

That experience, invaluable for later years, laid the foundation for me to successfully complete other major building and addition projects and repairs. I had also built a chicken coop and run out back. We figured we could not only benefit from the eggs, but also from the culled hens, for dinner.

 

Jo will never forget one experience with the chickens. Up the street at the Church, a group of members, including me, kept busy in the middle of a big clean-up day. Home alone with the kids, she heard the chickens out back erupt in a big ruckus, making all kinds of excited and distressed squawks. Stepping outside to investigate she spied the would-be thief. Perched on the corner post of the chicken pen sat a chicken hawk (a large female Coopers Hawk), leering at the frazzled flock. Back quickly into the house, she grabbed my twenty-two revolver that I had helped her practice with, and rushed back out to protect her beloved flock. Without hesitation, she pulled up, aimed and shot.  The wounded hawk fell inside the pen with a broken wing. Afraid of the fierce red-eyed pillager and not wanting anymore to do with the fearsome thing, she waited for me to dispatch it when I returned.

 

We occupied our beautiful little home from August of 1938 until we moved to Southern California in May of 1942.

 

The following needs mention here to keep chronological order: In 1918, shortly after Dad was killed, we had moved to Thatcher. After living in an empty rental belonging to my Uncle Oscar Sims for about a year, we moved from it when we bought the big house on Main Street. As a matter of interest, I remember seeing the date of the house’s construction on the gable end -- 1892. Christopher Layton had built the house for his tenth wife, Elizabeth, and her children.  

 

In 1939\40, we brothers tore down the old house to build Mother a new, comfortable home. As we razed the building, we pulled the nails from the lumber, and stacked it in a manner to keep it dry to avoid warping until we used it. We discovered it had been built with the old fashioned square nails -- not a single round one in it. We cleaned the mortar from each brick and stacked them in readiness. We saved the window frames and some of the old tile too and all else we thought might be of use. We didn’t level the entire house all at once; we left the rear section consisting of the kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom where mother continued to live comfortably, this part was about one third of the original house. We built the new house on the  front of the deep, double lot on the east side of the old house and much closer to the street, leaving enough space for an adequate, front lawn. It had all the modern conveniences of the day, and she enjoyed it for the rest of her years. After Mother moved into the new home, we tore the remaining old structure down, and Orlando used the material to help build his own house in Safford. 

We discovered the old house had been built on a footing of wide-cut sand stone blocks, about 14 inches deep.  The remnants of the footing remained in place while we lived in California. After we moved back to Thatcher, and our boys were in high school, in 1952, we removed the old blocks of sandstone -- crawling with scorpions -- to make way for the wide driveway into the trailer park we were in the process of building.  

 
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