Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Marilyn and My Daddy

There were a couple of special birthdays in The Life of Hazel Ilene this past week. Dale, my daddy, turned 86 on the 9th, and our close family friend, Marilyn, also turned 86 on the 13th.

Born 4 days apart, and just a couple miles down the road from each other, these two have been lifelong friends.

They both started out attending the little one-room schoolhouse in College Mound, Missouri, and their first-grade class had a singing group.

This little group also danced a waltz in a performance at the Macon School gymnasium. Here they are all gussied up for their performance:

Isn’t this the most darling photo ever?

There’s one more boy cut off on the left, and the group is, from L to R:

Mystery boy, Barbara White, Jimmy Powell, Marilyn Leathers, Dale Pagliai, and Frances Powell (Jimmy’s sister).

They’re in pairs, so Dale and Frances were partners, Marilyn and Jimmy, and Barbara and Mystery boy. However, it looks like Dale and Marilyn are holding hands, and it looks like Jimmy wants to steal Barbara away from Mystery boy — hilarious! I love this photo so so much!

How I would love to see that dance performance!!!

A couple years ago, I got the chance to take this photo of Daddy and Marilyn together. Since they were holding hands in their first photo, I made them hold hands for this one, too.

And just last week, Daddy went to visit Marilyn, and they took another photo, holding hands. And yes, Daddy is wearing the exact same outfit he was wearing in the photo from 2 years earlier, right down to the hat, the glasses, and the thing in his pocket! It’s his uniform. Haha! It brings to mind the line from the movie “Lonesome Dove”, when Gus says, “Deets ain’t one to quit on a garment jes’ cos it’s got a little age.” 

I hope they’re still taking these photos when they reach 100, and can still celebrate their birthdays together. And I’m sure Daddy will probably be wearing the same outfit, or one identical to it!

You can read more about Dale HERE.

Marilyn is mentioned several times throughout the diary, as is Marilyn’s sister, Loretta, who was also a good friend of Hazel’s. Marilyn has been in my life for as long as I can remember. Her nephew was a close friend of my brother’s, I went to school with more of her nephews and her niece, and her daughter was my best friend at the time my oldest daughter was born. 

One year ago, I helped Marilyn move into an apartment in a town closer to me, then I broke my foot, took a trip to California, and then Covid hit, so I haven’t been able to visit her as much as I had planned to. I hope that can change in the near future.

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Every year, on the fourth Sunday in August, the little country church my family attended while I was growing up has a Homecoming.

It’s not like it used to be when we were little. Back then, Homecoming was an all-day affair, with Sunday School and Church services in the morning, followed by one of the most unbelievable potluck dinners you’ve ever seen, spread out on tables on the side lawn (you know church ladies can cook!), then followed by an afternoon service with guests from neighboring country churches coming to eat, sing, and fellowship with our little congregation.

These days, the church stands empty 364 days a year, but we still have a small Homecoming service on the fourth Sunday in August. All the folks who grew up in and around this church that are still able, show up. So many of the congregation that was attending when we were small have passed on, so I’m glad that there are even a few that still attend. This year, we had 27 in attendance. We lost one member right after last year’s Homecoming, so it was sad to not have him and his family there any more. And my cousin that used to do the bookkeeping for the church was unable to attend this year — we missed her, too.

The building is still holding up quite well. My sister and my dad take care of it pretty good. The bathrooms are old-fashioned outhouses out back — yes, the ones with the wooden benches with holes in them! My dad was really proud of himself for getting them cleaned out for this year’s Homecoming. They get lots of wasp nests in them!

It looks like the sign could be repainted. I can’t even count how many times that sign has been replaced over the years!

Ron Smith and his wife, Janet, always host the event for us. Ron leads the service and the singing, and Janet (in the middle), and Debbie on the guitar, perform special numbers for us every year. Without them, I don’t think Homecoming would be much of an event.

There’s a piano, but we can’t use it because it’s so out of tune, and we don’t pay to have it tuned, because the humidity would only make it unusable again right away, and since we only meet once a year, we just don’t bother.

Jerry and Margie, sisters from the area, attend just about every year. Their parents used to be members here, and I have such fond memories of all of them. (They’re quilters, too!) That’s my Daddy in the background that they were talking to.

And this lady right here . . . this dear, dear woman . . . Mary Ann Teter Jenkins . . . SHE is the lady that introduced my parents to each other, way back on December 11, 1951.

If not for her, I would probably not be sitting here writing all this! Isn’t that a crazy thought?

My sister and I asked her how she’s getting along, and she answered: “I ain’t worth a shit these days!” Oh, how I love her! Haha!

So Homecoming is once again over, until the fourth Sunday in August next year. I know we can’t go back to having it like it was in the “good ol’ days”, but I’m glad that we’re still having it at all. The little country churches are going by the wayside, so it’s always good to see one that is still being kept up and used, even if only once a year.

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On this day 62 years ago, Ralph Lloyd Jones, Hazel’s uncle, was taking his family out to the Macon lake to celebrate his oldest daughter’s birthday. Shirley Jones was turning 20 years old on this day.

In the car was the entire Jones family: Ralph and his wife, Ruth, their three children, Shirley, Margaret, and Ralph, Jr., and also my mother, Hazel. (Ruth Jones is Hazel’s aunt, Mildred’s sister.)

The Jones family lived north of Bevier, just north of Ruth’s parents, out in the country. They had a cake and were carrying along birthday party provisions, including a knife with which to cut the cake.

Ralph, Jr., Shirley, and Margaret Jones

As they approached the turn-off to the lake, Ralph made the fatal mistake of turning left, from the wrong lane, into the path of a tanker semi that was trying to pass them.

The tanker broadsided the Jones vehicle, killing Ralph instantly, and injuring his five passengers, though not critically, thank goodness. This was well before the time of required seatbelts in vehicles. The knife meant for cutting the cake was responsible for some of the injuries, as it flew around on impact. Ralph was only 46 years old.

The next day, the local paper had three large photos of the accident on the front page, along with this article:

Ralph L. Jones of Bevier Dies in Collision Here

Ralph Lloyd Jones, 46, of Bevier was killed instantly, the Patrol said, when the car which he was driving was involved in an accident with a gasoline transport. The accident occurred at 5:30 p.m. yesterday in front of the Bowzer Service Station on Route 36 west of Macon.

Jones, driving a ’49 model sedan was east bound and attempted a left turn off the highway in front of the gasoline transport, driven by Arbie Hogan of Kennett, Mo., which was trying to pass. The truck apparently hit the Jones car in the side, the Patrol said.

Mrs. Ruth Jones, Mrs. Hazel Pagliai, Miss Shirley Jones, Miss Margaret Jones, and Ralph Jones, Jr., were all passengers in the Jones car, and were all taken to  . . . . (this part of the article is illegible — it’s a really old newspaper!) . . . the Edwards Funeral Home in Bevier, where it will remain until  . . . . (another illegible part) . . .

Funeral services will be held at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow at the First Baptist Church in Bevier, conducted by the pastor, the Rev. Esra Coppin. Burial will be in the Richardsdale Cemetery.

Mr. Jones was born Feb. 11, 1911, the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. Jones of North Bevier.

He was married to Miss Ruth Rector of Bevier, who survives. In addition to his wife he leaves three children, Shirley of Macon and Margaret and Ralph Lloyd, Jr., both of the home; two sisters, Mrs. Elmer Thomas of New Cambria and Miss Jennie Jones of Bevier; and five brothers, Daniel E. of Moline, Ill., Dewey of Brookfield, and David L., George R., and Thomas W., all of Bevier.

It’s so sad and tragic when a silly mistake ends a life, and changes the course of so many other lives. And still, it could have been so much worse.

And to have your birthday permanently marked with such a tragic event would make it hard to celebrate in future years. Poor Shirley.

Ruth did eventually remarry; I’m not sure exactly how much later, and the man she married was Dale’s uncle, Alexander Louis Britt! Alex was a barber and a painter (as in house painting), and they lived in a little house in Macon before moving to a different neighborhood in Macon upon Alex’s retirement.

Today, the scene of the accident looks like this:

Exits have been changed to make driving safer, and local traffic is routed on outer roads to avoid the highway altogether. Left turns, from any lane, are no longer allowed in this area.

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For awhile now, I’ve been following this wonderful account on Instagram, and wow! The eye candy is amazing!

Her name is Mary Corbet and her website is needlenthread.com.

There is so much stuff over there for you to browse through if you love embroidery like I do.

She has eBooks to download, instructions and tutorials for all sorts of embroidery stitches, lots of inspiration, tips, and gorgeous photography. Please go have a look — if you’re doing the embroidered version of the Vintage Christmas Ornaments Quilt-Along, it might give you some more stitch ideas to use on your ornaments!

I’m putting a link to this site in the sidebar, too, so it will always be easy to find.

I had plans to post the intro for the World War II-inspired Quilt-Along today, but that was before I ran over My Cowboy with my truck (yes, you read that right), and forgot to order one piece of fabric I needed for my sample quilt, so . . . I’ve been waiting on a piece of fabric to arrive, and nursing a man on crutches, all while taking care of the entire farm and everything else around here all by myself because he can’t walk! I promise we’ll get it kicked off next week — I’m so excited for this one!

Edited to add . . .

In the comments, reader Karrin also suggested Sharon Boggan’s Pintangle web site as another great resource. I’ve loved Sharon’s work for years, but I’ve always equated it more with Crazy Quilting than embroidery — however, it’s a fabulous resource for embroidery, so I hope you check it out as well. She has a LOT of stuff to read and learn about over there — prepare to get lost for awhile! I’ll add it to the sidebar for easy access, too.

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The Beginnings of Dale

So far this blog has been all about Hazel . . . and her teenage life . . . and her family . . . and we’ve only heard about Dale when Hazel mentions him in the diary. Since Dale did become Hazel’s husband, and my father, I thought I’d give you a little more information on him and his family.

Dale was born on December 9, 1934, in College Mound, Missouri, on the back side of his parents farm, in a section we’ve always referred to as “The Bett’s Place.”

Dale’s parents were Salvatore Franklin Pagliai, also known as “Rod”, and Lulu Pearl Britt, who was always called “Pearl”.

When Dale was born, Rod’s little sister, Alice, who was just a teenager at the time, came to stay with Pearl to help with the baby while Rod was away working.

As Rod was leaving for work when Dale was only 3 days old, he got up the hill, and for some reason, looked back, and saw the house on fire!

He raced back down the hill, and as he entered the house, he met Alice coming out, carrying the baby all bundled up. He sped into the bedroom, scooped his wife up out of her bed, and as he was carrying her out of the burning house, the roof was caving in behind them.

They lost everything.

And it was winter.

But they were all safe, thankfully.

They did rebuild on the same spot, and a few years later, they had the house moved up from the Bett’s Place to the top of the hill along the main road. Dale, his brother, Damon, and their sister, Patty, grew up there.

Now the farm is owned by my sister, Katy, and just this summer, the old house was torn down because it was falling in on itself. They’re building their new house on the same spot, and trying to save the old barn from falling in, too.

Hazel met Dale and his brother on December 11, 1951. You can read that diary entry HERE.

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Quilters, The Musical

Quilters, The Musical is having a run right now at the Maples Repertory Theater in Macon, Missouri.

Tomorrow, you can come see the musical at 2:00 pm, and right after the musical, I’m doing a trunk show of the quilts from my book, “A Simple Life: Quilts Inspired by the ’50s,” and you can get in to see it FREE if you have your ticket stub from the musical!

If you’ve already seen the musical, but still want to see my trunk show at 4:30, tickets for the trunk show by itself are only $10. I hope you’ll come out and see the quilts if you’re in the area. I’d love to see you there!

You can also see not only MY quilts, but over 30 quilts from area quilters that are on display in a quilt show that is running in conjunction with the musical, so you don’t want to miss that, either. And Ben Franklin is having a big fabric sale — just sayin’!

Many of you locals mentioned that you missed my presentation at the museum last summer, so now’s your chance to get to see it, and see a fabulous musical all on the same day!

Give the theater a call at 660-385-2924 for more info and to get your tickets.

We’re doing a workshop in the morning, but it’s all sold out, and I’m really excited to get to share the day with so many quilters tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

If you want to see the musical, but can’t make it this weekend, there is still one more week of the musical, and you can see the schedule HERE. Next weekend, there is also another workshop, with Carl Hentsch of Three Dog Design Company, and he’ll be teaching paper foundation piecing and also doing a trunk show. If you’ve been wanting to learn paper foundation piecing, Carl has a great project for you to learn on in his class, and seriously, you do NOT want to miss his trunk show, because his quilts are spectacular! I’m planning to be there to see his trunk show myself. If you love color and pattern, you’ll want to be there to witness all the eye candy. You can come sit with me!

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Happy Birthday, Hazel!

Today, Hazel would have turned 81 years old! It’s been 63 years since she was making the last few entries into her little red diary. Sixty-three years since she graduated high school; 63 years since she and Dale were married.

You can read how she celebrated her birthday through her high school years by visiting these posts:

September 19, 1951

September 19, 1952

September 19, 1953

September 19, 1954

By the time she celebrated her 18th birthday in 1954, she was busy planning her wedding, and she and Dale were getting their little rented farmhouse all ready to move into.

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A Sad Tale

Local folks who know our family, and those who have read the book, know that Hazel died unexpectedly at a young age.

Hazel and Dale married in 1954, and Hazel’s main ambition was to be a farmer’s wife and a mother. By 1961, Hazel’s brothers, Donald and Larry, were both married and each had their first child. Hazel was still not even pregnant. And Donald was working on his second one, born in 1961.

Donald and his wife, Ruth Ann, with their sons, Greg and Jeff (the infant):


Larry and his wife, Carole, with their son, Tony:


Here’s Hazel holding Larry’s son, on the left, and Donald’s son, on the right:


Even Dale’s brother, Damon, was married by now and had a daughter, Susan:


So when a little boy came up for adoption in their area, Dale and Hazel decided to adopt.


They named him Gary.



Mildred and Vern were grandparents of four little boys!



And Hazel found out she was pregnant! I was born in 1962, the first girl among the grandchildren on Hazel’s side of the family.

In 1962, Donald and Larry each had another son, making 3 boys for Donald, and 2 boys for Larry. What a group!

After 14 months, I finally learned how to walk. My mother wrote in my baby book: “A slow walker, but a fast talker.” I must get that from my father!


Then I turned three,


and Hazel gave birth to her third child on Christmas Eve, 1965 — Darin:


He was quite the active little fellow, and still is!



Gary, the dutiful big brother:


In 1968, Hazel was pregnant for the third time, with her fourth child, and in early 1969, she contracted the Hong Kong flu. Dale was working full time, and since Hazel was so sick, she and us three kids went to stay with Hazel’s parents, so Hazel would have help and could rest.

The doctor was concerned about Hazel’s weakened state from the flu when she went into labor on February 11th, 1969. Not having enough strength to deliver the baby normally, it was decided to do a C-section, and during that procedure, something went horribly awry.

The baby was saved, a little girl they named Katherine Louise. But due to complications from the procedure, Hazel entered a vegetative state that she never recovered from. She passed away on February 17th, 1969 — 48 years ago today. Katy was only 6 days old.

Hazel’s unexpected passing left the community and all who knew her and Dale in shock, and left Dale with four small children to raise.

Hazel was laid to rest in the Locust Grove Cemetery in Callao, not far from where she lived, and only a few blocks from the school she attended while writing in her little red diary.

And her Happily Ever After with Dale came to an end.

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January 13, 1954

Sixty-three years ago today, a tragic event happened in the quiet little town of Callao.

Mrs. Erven Whitfield, a 71-year-old lady who lived across the street from the schoolhouse, set herself on fire in an attempt to commit suicide. She ran into the schoolyard while school was still in session, and some of the school kids saw her, including my mother, Hazel.

While doctors did not expect her to live past 6:00 pm that day, the poor woman actually hung on for nearly two full days. Such an awful thing. You can read the full story HERE and HERE.

The City of Callao has recently created a park and playground on the site where the Whitfields lived. Whitfield Memorial Park is at the corner of 5th and Pine.


I’m not sure what the sign says, but I’ll be stopping by to find out the next time I’m in town.

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A few years ago, I was sitting in my cousin, Deno’s kitchen, and we were having completely random conversations, and during the course of this, he said: “Yeah, like Lowell Lee when he went nuts and killed his family. He’s my cousin, you know.”

First of all, I had never heard of Lowell Lee Andrews, and had never heard of this crime anywhere, either. And at that moment my brain sorta froze in time, and Deno carried on with an entirely new subject.

When my tongue managed to start working again, I said: “Wait! Wait! Back up. Back. UP! WHAT did you say?”

He repeated the part about Lowell Lee, and my mouth just hung open. Deno’s mother happened to be standing there as well, and asked: “Who are you talking about?” Deno said: “Oh, you know, Lowell Lee Andrews.”

Aunt Betty said: “Oh, yes. Such a horrible thing. I never could figure that out. He was just the sweetest, quietest little boy. Always so nice and polite.” Deno pipes up, “Oh, Ma, you think everyone’s the sweetest thing you ever met.” I couldn’t even laugh — I was still processing.

So I made them tell me the story.

William and Opal Andrews lived on a farm outside the town of Wolcott, Kansas, in the 1950s. They had two children, Lowell Lee, and Jennie Marie. On Thanksgiving weekend, 1958, Lowell Lee was home with his family, on break from Kansas University, where he was a student.

While his family was in the living room watching TV, Lowell was upstairs in his bedroom reading, ironically, “The Brothers Karamazov”.

When he finished the book, he shaved and got dressed nicely, loaded up two guns, walked downstairs, and shot his 20-year-old sister, Jennie, right between the eyes. As his mother started toward him, he shot her as well. Six times. Then he shot his father twice.

William did not die immediately, so as he was crawling toward the kitchen, Lowell Lee reloaded, and shot his father 15 more times.

Then he opened a window, ransacked the house to make it look like a burglary, and got in his car and drove back to KU to his boarding room, one hour away in Lawrence, KS. Now mind you, the weather was snowy and icy and cold, so this was a pretty treacherous drive to make. On the way there, he disassembled the guns, and stopped to throw them into the Kansas River.

At his boarding house, he chatted with his landlady, telling her that he had come back to retrieve his typewriter so he could work on homework. Then he WENT TO A MOVIE!!! He went. To a. Movie. That’s some craziness right there, huh?

After the movie, he drove back home, fed the dog, and called the police to report a robbery. When the police arrived, they found Lowell sitting on the porch, petting the dog, and asked him what was up. He just pointed toward the house, and said: “In there.”

In there, they found the gruesome scene, and questioned Lowell, who maintained it was a burglary. His absence of distress was highly suspicious, but it was not until they called in the family’s pastor that Lowell confessed to the crimes and was arrested. He showed absolutely no emotion or remorse.

When asked about funeral arrangements, he told authorities, “I don’t care what you do with them.”

“I don’t care what you do with them.” How cold is that?

Given that most of the Andrews family relatives lived up in this area where I live now, they brought the bodies back “home” and buried them in the Mt. Salem Cemetery in Excello, Missouri, just down the road from where Aunt Betty (Andrews) grew up.


Lowell lived on death row at the Lansing Prison for the next four years. He was fellow inmates with Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, the killers of the Clutter family, another famous mass murder in Kansas. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book “In Cold Blood”, it’s about the murder of the Clutter family, and towards the end, Lowell Lee is mentioned in the book and the movie. They called him “Andy”.

On November 30, 1962, Lowell Lee ate his last meal — fried chicken. He declined to deliver any last words, and was hung until dead. It is said that due to his size, he hung for quite a while before dying. As Deno put it, “They had trouble hangin’ him cos he was a big boy.”

And here’s the part I cannot bring myself to understand:


They brought him here and buried him next to the family members he so brutally murdered!


And they engraved his tombstone with “Son”.


I cannot understand this part. Deno said: “Yeah, I remember Grandma saying that same thing — whatever family member was in charge of that sure screwed up. I wouldna wanted him buried next to me!”

Down the road about a mile west of the cemetery, stands the house where Betty Andrews grew up.


Her father raised cattle on a 1000-acre farm, but sold out and moved into town to work for the highway department when Deno was just a little boy.


And I’m still flabbergasted about the entire story. I took all these pictures yesterday. I made Deno go with me, and we drove there to visit the cemetery and look at the old farmplace.

The house where the murders took place in Kansas is no longer there. A lot of the family who were living at the time, are now dead and gone. Aunt Betty will be 86 years old next March. I asked my dad if he remembered this happening, and he said: “Yeh. There was somethin’ bad wrong with that boy for him to do somethin’ like that.”

So there you have it — one of the most interesting skeletons I’ll ever find in my closet, I’ll wager!

And while My Cowboy is easily the funniest person I know, the men in my family are pretty funny, and Deno runs a very, very close second to My Cowboy in the humor department, so to lighten things up after that horrific tale, I’ll leave you with a few Deno quotes from our trip yesterday:

“Their hair-dos are very unbecoming.”

“A lesser man woulda been crushed.”

“I didn’t realize . . . you are ate up.”

“I think I look extinguished.”

“I almost told her to put on some clothes, but I was too busy watchin’ her.”

“He had a silver spoon stuck up his ass before he was ever born.”

“You’re gettin’ the hang o’ this drivin’ thing!”

“Someone came here with more dollars than sense.”

“I was real religious for about an hour and a half.”

“Man! Life’s complicated if ya get ta thinkin’ about it.”

“I’m one of the elder cousins in the family now.”

“See, even you don’t give me the respect I deserve.”

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