Our Whole Life in a Nutshell

The addresses listed for Hap and Doris on their application for a marriage license is reversed (<– CLICK LINK and they’re highlighted in blue and pink).  Apparently the clerk at the Probate Judge’s office misunderstood them and wrote down the address where dad lived under mother’s name and the address where mother lived under my dad’s.

Mother was the daughter of Oney Blake Warren who died in 1942 at the age of 37.  Oney had 2 daughters, my mother Doris and her sister Mildred whom everyone called “Tincy.”

Oney died at he home, 1920 3rd Ave. in Irondale, AL which is where her daughter Tincy continued to live after her death.  See Oney’s death certificate for the address highlighted in yellow in two places, top and bottom.  You can click on it to enlarge it.

That’s where my mother lived when she married my father 15 Oct 1940.  She gave her date of birth as 25 Jun 1923.  Her actual date of birth was the same day in 1924 but they felt it would look better if dad was marrying a 17-year-old rather than someone who just turned 16 less than four months prior.  It didn’t matter.  Oney signed below giving her permission which is all that’s needed for a 16-year-old in Alabama.

What about dad’s address? It’s on the application for a marriage license listed below mother’s name as 2017 3rd Ave in Irondale.  That’s where he moved to work at U.S. Steel which, at the time was called T.C.I. (Tennessee Coal and Iron, Co.).  Who lived at 2017 3rd Ave in 1941?

The 1940 Census shows the head of house at that address is Celia Bass, a widow (click the link then click photo to enlarge).  It shows she was employed as a seamstress at a garment factory and she had been living there at least since 1935.  Living there also was her daughter, Billie Clyde, her sister Evelyn, and John D. Farris, brother-in-law.  Where did they live in 1935?  John lived in Fairfield in 1935 but Evelyn says that in 1935 she lived in rural Shelby County, Alabama.  That’s where her parents lived and where my father graduated high school in 1937.  They lived in two different locations there.  The last one was in Calera where Evelyn and Celia’s father got his boys to help him build a log house.

That means that Evelyn and John weren’t married then.  Since Evelyn says she married Louis Jenkins about 1931 (she left him because he was abusive), it means she didn’t start dating John until sometime between 1935 and 1940.  We didn’t know that.  Hap doesn’t show up in at Celia’s house in 1940.  It means he didn’t start living with her until about the time he began dating my mother which was the day of her 16th birthday, 25 Jun 1940.

Dad moved in with Evelyn and John who, at the time was living with Celia.  It wasn’t too long before they all moved out and Celia moved somewhere else.  Celia ended up living on 3rd Ave West in Birmingham a few years later.  Evelyn and John moved to “Browntown” a community near Hueytown adjacent to the steel mill where Hap and John worked.  Haps twin brother, Doot, and their baby brother, Nat, also got jobs at the Steel Mill.  They all moved in with John and Evelyn in Browntown.

The men worked all different shifts.  Doris and Evelyn had to cook and wash clothes for them all the time even though Doris had morning sickness from being pregnant with my brother Rick.  Fortunately, they were able to move out and into a small apartment for a while.  Rick was born 9 Oct 1941.  Doris’s mother, Oney, died 14 months later of acute appendicitis after seeing her first grandchild come into the world.

On 3rd Ave N., Celia became very close friends with another lady who lived in the same apartment building, Ann Lotsgaselle.  She was a German lady who became “Aunt Ann” to us kids.

Doot bought a home in a post-WWII housing development called “Belview Heights.”  The address was 2313 20th St. in Ensley.  In 1949, Hap bought 2 acres on Hardy Rd. in Hueytown where he and Doris, John and Evelyn once again lived together with 3 little boys, Rick, Larry, and Ronnie.  They bought two old WWII surplus hospital tents, built a wooden floor to put them on and dug for a privy (outhouse) out back.  It was home for the next year to 18 months while Hap built a house next door.  I was too young to use the outhouse so they made me “go” on a freezing cold metal “potty” that looked like a large, round white enameled metal coffee cup with a red painted ring around the rim.  It was just the right size for my baby bottom.  I slept on a WWII surplus army cot and loved it.  Still have memories of it.

Doris got tired of living with Evelyn who was less than kind to her.  After all, Doris took Evelyn’s baby brother away from her, didn’t she?  Evelyn was not quite 6 years old when the twins Hap and Doot were born 28 Jul 1919 to her mother, Oma.  Oma was already losing one sickly child, Houston, who died about 1920.  Another, Andrew Gay (Sam) got hit in the head by a train which knocked a chunk out of his skull.  She had more than she could bear dealing with twins even though she had help from her black domestic, “Aunt” Febby, who was the kids Mammy.

So Oma handed Hap to Evelyn and said, “Here. This one’s yours!”  And so it was.  Although she hadn’t yet started grade school, Evelyn learned to bottle feed the baby, change dirty diapers, whatever a mother had to do.  Hap became “her” baby — literally.  Who could blame her for Doris “taking her baby away from her”?

Doris had enough of that kind of treatment.  After dad got the sub-floor installed and the little house on Hardy Rd. blacked in and with windows, mother moved the furniture into it one day while dad was at work.  I remember him coming home and asking what was going on.  I don’t remember exactly what was said.  I was only 4 at the time.  But I remember the fuss and daddy giving in.  He finished the house with us living in it.  Click Here for a brief, printable story of the house with photos.

Nat moved into a house built across the street for a time then moved elsewhere.  John and Evelyn stayed on Hap’s property for another 6 or 7 years.  They built a house there where the old tent had been but Uncle John lost his job at the Nail Mill and Evelyn’s antique business had grown so much it would no longer fit in her living room.  They had to move out.

DEATH IN THE FAMILY (and move to Woodstock)
Only a year or two before they moved, Oakley wasn’t doing well in an old folks home.  Evelyn moved him into her home the last few months of his life.  In 1955 within 2 weeks of each other, both Evelyn’s parents Oakley and Oma Seay Vincent, died.

Evelyn rented a store in Caffee Jct. on U.S. Highway 11 (which, at the time was a two-lane) sometime in the mid-1950s.  In the late 1950s the state widened Hwy 11 into a 4-lane, a local store was moved as a result, the owners wanted to sell, and Evelyn wanted to buy.  John and Evelyn moved Effoom’s Antiques to Woodstock near the intersection of U.S. 11 and Ala. Hwy 5 just before you get to Holiday Raceway.

Rick, Larry, and Ron grew up on Hardy Rd. next door to a man who couldn’t afford to continue paying the house note on his G.I. Bill loan.  He sold to H.H. (Coot) Little who moved next door to the Vincents in 1954.  Hap didn’t like the guy who had lived there and wanted to make sure no undesirables would bother him again, so he began putting up a fence along the property line before Coot and Dot Little moved in.  He met Coot, figured he was an OK guy, and that fence was never completed.  The fence posts rotted away and were forgotten.

Meanwhile, 5-year-old Susie noticed 7-year-old Ronnie (pictured HERE in 1958 with my cousin Chuck Knaffl).  I was sitting on a branch of a tree in the yard when they arrived.  9 years later we took a greater interest in each other and 13 years later in 1967 I married Susie while I was still in the U.S.A.F.  We lived in an 8′ by 44′ two BR house trailer in Virginia Mines, near Bessemer, for the next 4 years.  Coot borrowed money and bought the trailer and I paid him $50 a month to live there until Coot paid the trailer loan off.

In 1971, John Farris died of lung cancer leaving Evelyn a widow who lived over 15 miles from her nearest relative.  That wouldn’t do.  Susie and I needed a permanent place to live so Evelyn persuaded Hap to persuade them to move next door to her.  Then she persuaded the property owner to sell the lot so they could.  Evelyn was a very persuasive woman and wasn’t afraid to use tears to convince these men how badly she needed a male relative next door to help her.  Remember this was years before the women’s movement back when women still felt they had to have a man around to get things done.

Doot was unfaithful to Aunt Hazel. His girlfriend had a child out of wedlock. She thought Doot was the father (although we’ll never know for sure).  And Cascilda was born into the world in 1960.  Evelyn was childless and wanted a darling little girl so she and John became Cassie’s parents.  Doot and Hazel divorced.  She married William Joseph Eckoff and moved to Hoover.  Doot married Eloise Lagrue and moved from Belview Heights to the Hollywood community between Hoover and Mountain Brook, Alabama.  Doot and Hazel’s son, David, and Hap and Doris’s son, Larry, married girls from my Hueytown High School Class of ’65.  They all still feel like they have that in common and try to keep in touch.

Nat and Corene bought a farm on the Warrior River near Buddy Vines Camp and raised their kids near Oak Grove, Alabama.  Their oldest, Jim, bought a little hill top near Springville, Alabama where they now live.  Jim probably remembers the hills surrounding Warrior River where he grew up.

Larry and Carol Vincent now live near Springville, Alabama also.  Rick and Kathy now live in Montevallo.

In 1973, Susie and I built a house in Woodstock, and raised our 8 children there next door to Evelyn and Cascilda Farris.  Celia bought a large house not too far from where Doot and her baby brother Harry had lived.  She and Billie Clyde lived there the rest of their lives where Billie raised her 4 children.  Billie’s youngest daughter, Robbie, lives in Shelby County.  Reed and Wanda live in Tennessee.

Our daughter Jo Anna, married Glen Arnold from Georgia.  Susie died of colon cancer in 2003.  I married Linda who grew up in Georgia.  Now Linda and I and most of our 11 children and 31 grandchildren live in Georgia.

Many of these people mentioned have long since died but their memories and influences on us linger still.  Today, those who remember them have fading memories.  To those who don’t remember them, this is just an interesting story.  Instead of saying, “That’s nice” and moving on, you should be asking yourselves, “How would my life be if those folks hadn’t done some of the things they did?  Would I even be here?  If so, would I be a member of this family?”

One last word.  If you have memories, share them.  Write them down.  If you don’t, no one else will and when you die, they’ll be lost forever.

Categorized: Vincent

2 comments on “Our Whole Life in a Nutshell

  1. I loved it. I have been in the family since I married Glynn in 1954. I met many of the people you mention and have been in several of the houses your mention — your parents house in Hueytown, Doot’s house near Moutain Brook and Aunt Eveyyn’s antique shop. I knew Corene lived in Oak Grove. When Papa (Oakley Seay) died Mary Seale from Oak Grove did the service. Mary had been a pastor at a church near Columbian for years before she moved to Oak Grove. When Mary showed up the day before the funeral she had her good friend Corene Vincent with her.What a nice surprise! Is my memory bad or did Nat and Corene live in Chilton County at one time? I will see that my children see this article. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES. My husband was Oakley Glynn Vincent (1936-2009).

    • Faye, I had to copy and save your comments. What a treasure! Yes, I think Chilton County is where Nat and Corene lived when Nat died. I remember dad going the back way to drive there. I also remember whenever Aunt Evelyn took me with her to get a prescription filled when I was a kid that she’d go to your dad’s pharmacy to fill it. He was much loved, I recall. I didn’t know the story of Mary Seale. Thanks for sharing that. I only remember going to church with Nat, Corene, and family once in Oak Grove. Nice church. One of the photos on this blog post, (“Where They Live Now”) the one mentioning Jim Vincent, was taken on your back porch. That’s Jim and Brian talking to Glynn. I hope everyone clicks the links to see the photos. Thank YOU for sharing your memories. I should interview you. You know more about my family than most people who were born into it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *