1938-39, Mom & Dad Courtship-Marriage

A good romance writer could probably make quite an interesting story of how Mom & Dad got together, but that’s not me, so it will have to be just the plain facts as I understood them from Mom & Dad. And the feature photo above is of the dating Louise & Everett, made in the summer of 1938 in front of Uncle Doc & Aunt Gay’s house in Warren with that wonderful Magnolia Tree that was always part of my memories of their house years later. She stayed with them in that house both summers when she worked for Uncle Doc and dated Dad as explained below.

Mom’s father died of an apendicitis when she was just 4 years old, meaning she grew up mostly without a father or other adult male in her house, just two doting older brothers. That elevated her uncles to an important role in her life. Her mother’s two brothers, Harlan and Walter were most important of course, and then there were two by marriage, Uncle Glenn (Gyp) & Uncle George (Bonnie). Unfortunately I have no memory of Uncle George because they lived in Texas, but Uncle Glenn visited us often in El Dorado and is remembered as the “Rich Uncle” from Pine Bluff, a CPA.

Uncle Harlan and Aunt Helen lived almost next door to their house on the edge of Fort Smith, Arkansas, with their daughter Ruth possibly being Louise’s closest cousin friend along with Harlan Jr. and Edwin. I’m sure the two families did much together while Louise was growing up and Harlan was possibly a father figure. He ran a chicken hatchery and was a well known North Arkansas painter of mostly landscapes. He was my art role model as I loved art growing up.

Clemmie’s other brother, Walter, was a medical doctor in the river delta farm town of Warren, Bradley County, Arkansas. In fact, for awhile he was the only doctor in Bradley County, having his own small, private hospital, Hunt Hospital, that of course provided a few jobs locally. As Mom was finishing her Junior year in high school in Ft. Smith, the 11th grade, Uncle Doc offered her a summer job in his hospital with free room & board at her “Uncle Doc’s” house in Warren (above photo). And that summer her first big adventure began in the “Tomato Capital of Arkansas,”  Bradley County.

Mom’s family were all Presbyterians, but when Uncle Doc married a Southern Baptist from Shreveport, Louisiana, Walter joined with his wife in the First Baptist Church of Warren. Thus during Mom’s summer of 1938 she went to church most Sundays with Uncle Doc and Aunt Gay at the First Baptist Church. She also had met some Warren girls her age and often sat with them during the worship service. One Sunday she asked a local girlfriend she was sitting with who that good-looking guy was in the choir. She was told that his name was Everett Doggett and that she would be introduced after church. Thus my parents met for the first time at church. His full name was Lloyd Everett but at that time he went by Everett. Mom’s full name was Clemmie Louise and she had always gone by Louise only. Her mother’s name was Clemmie.

And here is the 1938 photos Mom kept on her dresser before they were married and I think for a good while after, because I remember seeing it on her dresser when I was a child. It was in a little frame behind glass. 

That is Mom’s handwriting.

They dated much of that summer of 1938 and then when she returned to Fort Smith for her senior year in high school, they corresponded by mail. She saved all the letters he wrote her and they are in this photo gallery: 1938 & 1939 Letters to Louise Hardgrave, that includes a few letters other than from Dad. And why don’t guys save the letters they receive? But of course, like most men, he did not. (I’m different – I saved the letters Ginger wrote me before we married and she didn’t save mine.) And by the way, Mom always saved letters she received for the 49 years of their marriage and I photographed them too and they can all be found linked on “Mom’s Page.”

Pre-Marriage Photo Galleries

On Everett’s 1939 Visit to Ft. Smith  at Mom’s house

Elopement Marriage

After Mom graduated from high school in Fort Smith, she again took the summer job with Uncle Doc in Hunt Hospital and continued dating Everett. On September 24, 1939 the two of them ran away to the next county and its little county seat of Fordyce, Dallas County, Arkansas and were married. I was never told exactly why they eloped, though it is typically a combination of lack of money and lack of approval from parents. Whatever . . . they were married and 10 months later I was born!

Dad had already graduated from high school and had been working for the Coker Hotel in Warren before he even met Mom. Before I was born he had switched to working for a clothing store which became his work the rest of his life. Though he never wanted to be a farmer like his father, for many years he kept a small vegetable garden in his backyard, loving fresh-grown veggies.

Mom may have continued some part-time work for Uncle Doc, I do not know. But pretty soon she was pregnant and so her uncle then became her personal doctor and he delivered me on July 4, 1940.

And thus our family begins . . .

“Dearest Darling . . .”   ~Everett, using those 1930’s terms of endearment in those letters linked above – kind of funny sounding to us next generations!   🙂

And World History Then

The People History: What Happened in 1939?

Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945  history page, Library of Congress

¡Pura Vida!