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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

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):

donragregjeff

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

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

hazelgregtony

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

damonsusan

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

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They named him Gary.

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Mildred and Vern were grandparents of four little boys!

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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!

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Then I turned three,

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

hazeldarin

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

darin1

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Gary, the dutiful big brother:

garydarin

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.

whitfieldpark

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.

andrews3

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:

andrews2front

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

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And they engraved his tombstone with “Son”.

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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.

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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.

andrewsfarm

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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Donald Cox

On the very first page of Hazel’s first scrapbook, she pasted two newspaper clippings about Donald Cox.

DonaldCox

Donald Eugene Cox lived in Macon, Missouri, and was four years older than Hazel. He served in the Navy for 21 years as an electrician. He served during both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

On September 4, 1951, Hazel mentions him:

Went to school a half day. Donald Cox is home from the Navy. I hope I get to see him. Moma, Josephine, Ruth Jones went to a cooking school at Macon. Peg was here.

And again on March 7, 1952, when he’s home again on leave:

A man took picture of us at school today. I think Ann is mad at me – I don’t know why. Donald Cox is home on a 30 day furlough. Hope I get to see him. Donald W. got pneumonia.

Hazel obviously had a crush on Donald for quite awhile throughout high school.

On March 23, 1952, she admits her crush for him in the memorandum section at the back of her diary:

I like Dale Pagliai better than any other boy I’ve ever known. I used to like _______ Cox an awful lot, but he probably doesn’t know I’m even alive. I know that Dale ________.

He must have been something, because he’s enough to make you faint when he walks into the room, as Hazel says on December 1, 1953:

Wowee – I’m tired today. Last nite while we were at Melody Inn Donald Cox came in & Judy & I were dancing & I felt like fainting. Waldo was there with Sue & I think he was mad. Me & Buck stayed home tonite & Mom, Dad & Puz went to Grandma’s.

Donald married Mary Pinkerman on February 6, 1955, and upon retiring from the Navy, he worked in Macon as an electrician. They had four children, two boys and two girls.

Donald passed away on August 31, 2007, at the age of 75. I do not have any pictures of him that I know of.

The first newspaper clipping is from March, 1952, and reads:

Donald E. Cox Is Home From Korea

Donald E. Cox, EM 3 of the U.S. Navy, arrived in Macon Tuesday, March 4, on a 30-day leave and is visiting his father, George Cox, 212 Hudson street, and other relatives and friends. 
He arrived in San Diego, Calif., on March 1 from Korea where he had served the past six months.

The second clipping is not dated, but must be from around the same time. It reads:

Donald E. Cox Serves On Aircraft Carrier

Donald E. Cox, fireman, USN, son of Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Cox of 212 Hudson St., Macon, Mo., recently reported for duty aboard the escort aircraft carrier USS Badoeng Strait.
The Badoeng Strait, a unit of Carrier Division 15 under the command of Rear Admiral Richard W. Ruble, USN, is operating in the Far East supporting United Nations forces in the Korean War.

There is a web site dedicated to the Badoeng Strait, which you can visit HERE. The ship, just before being scrapped in 1972, was supposedly used in filming the final scenes of the 1973 Clint Eastwood movie, Magnum Force, which makes me want to watch this movie again, just to see if I can catch glimpses of it! I wonder if Donald knew this and watched the movie?

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Chet and Imogene

If you’ve been reading the diary along, you may have noticed that Hazel mentions a certain couple several times throughout the diary, and usually always mentions them together: Chet and Imogene.

Chet May graduated from Callao High School in 1951. Hazel mentions it in her diary on May 11, 1951:

Today was last day of school for Seniors. They are Marie Day Johnson, Chet May, Joann Ford, & Lois Jean Hayes. Soph’s had a party tonite. Delpha and Bill Burk invited me but I didn’t go. Stayed home.

Notice there were only four in their class, and Chet is the only boy!

Bertha Imogene St. Clair graduated from Callao High School in 1952, just a little over one month after she and Chet became engaged. Hazel’s diary entry from April 2, 1952, 64 years ago today, reads:

Went to show at Bevier tonite “As young as you feel.” I didn’t care much for it. Everybody has just about wrote in my annual. Imogene St. Clair & Chet May are engaged. I don’t have the measles, thank goodness. Saw Shirley J. at show.

On November 8th, 1952, Chet and Imogene were married. Hazel wrote, on November 12, 1952:

Went to show tonite “My Six Convicts”. Was really good. Saw Imogene & Chet there. Congradulated them. They were married a few days ago. Lois Jean Hayes & Bob Montgomery were married with them. too. Bye

Lois Jean Hayes was one of Chet’s classmates, and she was also his niece (figure that one out!), and he says Bob’s last name was Holman, so Hazel must not have that part right, for whatever reason. Imogene said that they had planned a double wedding with Lois Jean and Bob, but it didn’t happen that way. Chet says that the two couples were married on the same day, but not together!

Chester (Chet) was the youngest of 8 children. Their father’s name was Ollie, and Chet’s 7 older siblings were Kenneth, Bill, Delbert, Beulah, Isabel, Irma, and Grace. Irma married a man named Buck Hayes, and Lois Jean was their child, the same age as Chet! Not surprising in large families back in the day.

Another of Chet’s classmates, Joann Ford, went on to become Imogene’s sister-in-law — she married Imogene’s brother, Bob. Oh, life in a small town!

Some of the graduates from Callao High School recently had a reunion, and here is Chet with Lois Jean (center) and Joann!

ChetLoisJoann

On October 13, 1953, Chet entered the Air Force. He started out with Basic Training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX.

Chetsbook

He then went to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS, and studied electronics.

Chet’s flight simulation training was done at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL, and he learned instrument repair a bit later at Brooks AFB in San Antonio, TX.

While stationed at Brooks, Chet and Imogene’s first child arrived on the scene on March 17, 1955 — a little boy they named Steve.

When Steve was 10 months old, Chet was sent to Thule Air Base in Greenland. While Chet was in Greenland, Imogene took Steve and moved back to Callao to stay with her parents.

When Chet returned, he was stationed at Reese AFB in Lubbock, TX, for a time, and finally discharged on September 4, 1957. Imogene has his scrapbook full of clippings and all sorts of mementos.

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The couple settled back in Callao, and in 1960, their second child made his appearance — another boy they named Michael.

Here’s a good shot of “the boys” — from left, Mike, Mike’s son Tyler, Chet, and Steve:

Chetnboys

I have known Chet and Imogene my entire life. I can’t remember not knowing them. My brothers and I went to the same school as Steve and Mike. Mike was in my older brother’s class and they graduated together in 1978. I recently got to meet Steve’s son and grandson, both wonderful young gentlemen.

Chet and Imogene have lived in the exact same spot the entire time I’ve known them. I can’t imagine anyone else living there.

Chetsgarden

Chet loves gardening in the summer time, and enjoys hunting with his sons, grandsons, and great-grandson. Imogene has always been active within the Callao community, and she’s a quilter! Aren’t they just so cute? This is Chet and Imogene with their grandson, Joel, on the left, and their son, Steve, on the right:

ChetImogene

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February 2, 1951

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.

LunSum1

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.

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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!

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And this one might possibly have been taken at Hazel’s house during Lu’s 1952 summer visit:

LulaBelle

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!

PeggyKoger

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.

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September 26, 1954

Dale came up for dinner today & then we took most of my stuff down to the house. Cut off our window shades & put them up. Then at supper at Rod & Pearls – then went to church. Then came back & read some of Damons love letters. Got home ‘bout 12.

That Damon! I wonder if he’s reading the love letters with them, or if they snuck them from him and are reading them without Damon knowing? I wonder how many he has? How many girls are writing Damon love letters? Hmm . . .

They got their window shades hung, and Hazel has begun to move her things into the house. It’s getting real, folks! This is really going to happen! Seven more days.

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