On this day, 65 years ago, Hazel wrote in her little red diary:
Stayed home tonite. Lou left today. Boohoo. We got her a going away present. Larry’s room had a party today. David Reese came home. I wrote to Peggy Koger & Shirley Warren. I’m just going to be lost without Lou.
It clearly broke her little 14-year-old heart, as she lamented, “I’ve never had a better friend.”
Lula Belle Chick. She moved with her family to Hallsville, Missouri, about an hour away. She and Hazel stayed in touch over the years, and even visited back and forth occasionally.
Lu got engaged in February, 1954, two months before Hazel and Dale officially became engaged. Hazel never mentions going to her wedding, or if the wedding even happened. There’s no more about Lu in the diary after that.
At the time I posted the diary entry from 65 years ago, I had not been able to find out any information about Lu at all, but since then, I was able to find someone who identified Lu in these unlabeled pictures from the family picture box.
Three of these pictures were evidently taken all on the same day, because Lu is wearing the same dress in all three of them. In this first one, that’s Lu on the left. I don’t know who she’s with, or where they are, but it’s obviously a warm day.
My guess is these pictures were possibly taken on a day when Lu came back to visit briefly — August 12, 1952, perhaps? So the gal on the right in the above picture might be Loretta, since I know it’s not Della.
UPDATE: Loretta’s son and daughter both agree that the gal in the photo above is indeed Loretta Leathers. So now we know for sure!
Here’s Lu with Opal Smith, standing outside the Callao Sale Barn.
I have a feeling Hazel took this picture, because next we have the same setting, only showing Hazel with Lu, so I think Opal took this one!
And this one might possibly have been taken at Hazel’s house during Lu’s 1952 summer visit:
Hazel could have had no idea that in just a few year’s time from when these pictures were taken, she’d be living right around the corner from that Sale Barn, in her dream home, with her sweetheart, Dale.
Or that she would have a daughter whose first job, at the age of 14, was working as a waitress on Saturday mornings in that same Sale Barn’s cafe!
In that same diary entry, Hazel mentions writing a letter to a gal named Peggy Koger. Here’s Peggy, standing outside what appears to be a school building, but it’s not Callao School. I don’t know where Peggy lived and went to school (possibly Elmer?). Hazel mentions on February 4, 1952, that Peggy sent her a picture, so I wonder if this is the picture she sent?
UPDATE: I found another picture identical to this one, and it had writing on the back! This picture was indeed taken outside the Elmer High School. The photo is dated January 25, 195? — the last number is cut off, but my guess is 1952 (see above). She also wrote on it “Baby its cold outside.” Haha!
Hazel also says that in one of the letters she got from Shirley Warren, that Shirley sent her a picture, but I haven’t found it or identified it yet, if I have it.