Claude and Girtha Milam – Memory of Our Grandparents
EMAILS from 2015
Bill Milam (Freer’s son Mar 8, 2015)
I watched the two videos which Uncle Dix made and narrated. I really enjoyed seeing everyone from an earlier time. I think Uncle Dix did a terrific job of taking the pictures and producing the videos for all of us. We all are hugely indebted to him. I am so appreciative.
Here are the typed labels on the outsides of my two VHS tapes:
MILAM FAMILY REUNION, 1991 with scenes from 1958 Family Outing
MILAM FAMILY REUNION, August 1989 Atwood Lake
Who doesn’t have these? I am going to have DVDs made so I could send you what you need. Bill
Donna Conner (Lakin’s eldest Daughter Mar 10, 2015)
Bill, I thought I had both the 1989 and 1991 VHS Milam Family Reunion tapes, I can only find the 1989. I don't remember anything about 1958; we were all still in school. The reason the cousins from Texas did not come up for Grandma's funeral is that they had a memorial service in Texas for Grandma and then shipped her body up here for a funeral or a memorial service.
I came down with my youngest, which was a babe in arms, my other two were in school and husband at work. We went to Uncle Freer and Aunt Christine's home for a funeral dinner, it was very nice. Grandma's mailman came to the viewing, Johnny was his name. Grandma really liked him. I have lots of memories which I think about once in awhile.
Donna (Mar 11, 2015)
I was thinking about 1958 last night and I think that was probably when much of the family went to Conneaut Park. I remember Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Georgie, Dot and some of her family, Aunt Martha's family, I think Uncle Freer's family, probably Uncle Dix's family and my Dad's ( Lakin ) family. There may have been more. It was a big thing, the women brought picnic food and we rode the rides. I remember Aunt Martha wanted to go on the roller coaster and no one wanted to go with her. Then Aunt Georgie said I will go with you, I will never forget that. I thought about them recently; they were both dare devils in that respect. Good memories. Does anyone else remember that?
Bill (Mar 11, 2015)
For the 1958 “Gathering” Uncle Dix videos show still photographs which he had taken. The families of Uncle Dix, Uncle Lakin, Aunt Martha were all in the photos and also Grandma and Grandpa Milam, Aunt Georgie and the Conn family as well as Fern & Elmer. Perhaps others from West Virginia were there. Our parents look so young!
Dix remarks that he can’t recall why Bill, Bob and Carol were not there. I can’t imagine why we would not be at such an occasion unless my parents thought it was an adults only affair. We wouldn’t have missed a park. I believe Carol wrote that she didn’t recall the event.
It is a very special bonus to have the 1958 photos when everyone was so young!! My father , Freer, actually has a lot of brown hair.
Jeff Milam (Dix’s son Mar 12, 2015)
Now I’m very curious to see the photos. I do remember pictures of us at a park, around a bunch of picnic tables, but I don’t remember anything about being at an amusement park or going on rides.
Melanie Thomas (Dix’s daughter Mar 12, 2015)
I remember being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in 1958 for a picnic ( I was only 4 according to Mom, so that makes it 1958 ) and Dad ( Dix ) had many pictures from then. The older kids (anybody but me, LOL) were playing badminton in their back yard. I remember sitting in the kitchen marveling over the melon balls and how Grandma had them placed in a large carved watermelon basket. I wanted to eat them so badly!!! Most importantly, I remember the cuckoo clock, which Grandpa later willed to me and I still have today. Many of you would walk me into the living room at the appropriate hour or half hour so I could watch it. And of course, being 4, I lost attention and almost always missed seeing the cuckoo come out.
Bill (Mar 12, 2015)
Thanks, Mel, for providing your memories. I have forgotten so much - like the badminton in the back yard. And of course 3 pies and 3 cakes (at least) when Grandma organized a family get together, like Christmas or Thanksgiving. What a treat. My favorite was the angel food cake.
Donna (Mar 12, 2015)
Mine was the sponge strawberry short cake; there was nothing like that to me. yum Donna
Melanie (Mar 12, 2015)
It was a watermelon carved, halved out including a handle to resemble a basket. I was very impressed then as I am now - full of watermelon and cantaloupe balls! I remember sitting at the table while mom, and all the aunts did dishes and sooooo wanting to snatch one but I knew better.
Unfortunately Dad’s ( Dix ) pictures are all on slides – we lost our local photography studio that I used to convert them to pictures. Dad created the VHS tapes for Jeff and I by manually projecting the slides on the screen and taking a video of them while narrating. I can’t imagine the time he took to create them in the basement, but he enjoyed it.
Donna (Mar 12, 2015)
I don't know if Grandma made the watermelon and cantaloupe basket or not. I know Aunt Christine made one and brought it over for Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary. I think it was their 50th. I have a color picture of that.
Bill (Mar 12, 2015)
Well, everything Grandma made was delicious.
I know that you spent time with them in the Summer; I spent a few weekends. I remember Grandpa would dunk a biscuit in his coffee. I loved Grandma’s biscuits; they were so light and flaky. Grandpa gave me my first coffee to drink (with a lot of milk) and I dunked a biscuit like he did. Of course, you remember that Grandpa made coffee his own special way with egg shells for calcium and a rusty nail for iron added to the coffee grounds. And he made it strong which some folks didn’t care for. But what did I know ;~)
Donna (Mar 12, 2015)
You are right, Bill, Grandma was a wonderful cook. I didn't know the coffee story. I don't know if he ever offered coffee to me, but I didn't like it when I was young. When he would come in from the mill around midnight of so, he always had something to eat. He loved fresh fruit with cream or half n half over it, I did too.
Remember how he loved the fat that was on the meat. I remember when some of us would be there, we would cut the fat off our meat and give it to him. Of course it was well done and a little crispy. I have thought about that since they have talked so much about what is good for you and what is not. Grandpa had a lot of walking to do at the mill and a lot of stairs to go up and down, and his body probably burned that rich food off. But when he retired he kept eating the same way but was not doing all the moving he did at work.
He was a very good man and he loved to tell stories. Grandma was not the only one to tell stories. How I loved listening to them. Their stories never changed; they told them over and over again - but they stayed the same. Wonderful memories.
Donna (Mar 12, 2015)
Bill, when my Dad ( Lakin ) died and your Mom and Dad ( Freer ) and Uncle Dix and Aunt Helen came for the funeral. I sent them a letter afterwards to let them know that my Dad had made everything right with the Lord and I knew he was saved. Your Mother wrote me a very nice and long letter to thank me for my letter to them. She said they had talked and had wondered if my Dad had asked God to forgive him. She said they were so glad that I had written them to let them know. I still have that letter after all these years. When I was looking through old pictures for my husband’s funeral, I saw her letter and read it again. It was very nice and sweet.
Bill (Mar 12, 2015)
Thanks, Donna. I was away so much at college and then with the Air Force in Germany ( about 13 years total ) that I missed a lot of family activities / events. I didn’t make it to any of those funerals. In fact, I didn’t even know a lot of my parents’ lives after 1959 other than occasional visits, letters or phone calls. It is the disadvantage of moving away.
Jeff (Mar 13, 2015)
It’s so interesting that we have this shared experience and yet have nurtured different aspects of it over the years. I don’t remember anything about the food, except that there was always a lot of it. At 9 years old, I wasn’t interested in food - my how things have changed! I can’t remember the actual stories, but I do remember the language, the rhythm and pacing of the storytellers, that soft, liquid West Virginia accent: sometimes Grandpa, sometimes Grandma, sometimes Uncle Freer, all marvelous storytellers I thought.
The other things that stand out in my memory was the long, long table in their dining room; the card games (Hearts?) that were played there - fascinating to a young boy. Grandpa chewing tobacco on the porch and spitting over the guardrail. It wasn’t until I was grown and had a family of my own that I learned that chewing tobacco was Grandpa’s act of defiance to his dad ( Leftridge Milam ), much, I suppose, as wearing long hair was mine. Thank you all for sharing your memories. They brought back some of my own that had long been dormant.
Bill (Mar 13, 2015)
We ( Freer's family ) lived the closest to Grandpa and Grandma Milam – just 15 miles away - and saw them often. We had different schedules for when we visited. When I was younger, we regularly visited on Sundays after church and would have a piece of pie or cake. As they got older, we visited more often especially in the Winter since they had a coal fired furnace. My Dad – Freer - would redo the coal fire by removing the ashes and shoveling new chunks of coal into the furnace. By the time I was a teenager, my job was to carry the big bucket of ashes up the stairs and take them outside. I think I spread them on Grandpa’s garden.
Of course, they didn’t have a car so Grandpa and Grandma would walk down Center Street about 3/8s of a mile to a small grocery store on the main street in Weirton. Also, from main street, they could catch a bus to the center of Weirton or even to Steubenville, Ohio, for shopping. Grandma was a very good seamstress and would buy fabric to make grandchildren dresses, etc. Since we always had a huge garden, we would take them fresh vegetables during the Summer. And Grandpa had a small garden too and he grew tomatoes, onions, radishes, etc.
What I remember most about Grandpa was that he often wore a white shirt and bow tie and sat in the big chair beside the upright piano. Next to the chair on the carpet sat his brass spittoon. The second striking thing about Grandpa was his avid interest in politics; therefore, the newspaper was always by his chair. It was his favorite topic of conversation! He and my father would talk about the latest news and I guess to some extent sports - which was Freer’s favorite topic. Grandma would sit in the chair next to the dining room door and I believe her favorite topics of conversation were her children and grandchildren and how everyone was doing. She also kept up with Aunt Georgie and the Dorothy Conn family.
During nice weather we would sit on the front porch which was enclosed in morning glory flowers climbing up the twine which Grandpa arranged each Spring when he replanted the seeds.
The “glider” was a metal one which had been repainted a light green. It was on a frame which, I believe, let it glide back and forth. There was a wicker chair or two on the porch, also painted light green.
Linda Hamric (Lakin’s middle daughter Mar 13, 2015)
I certainly enjoyed everyone's memories of Grandpa and Grandma. Bill, I sure remember Grandpa in that bow tie and white shirt, also the spittoon. Yes, you are right about the swing on the front porch and the chairs. When we were down there, Grandma and I would always sit on the glider with our coffee right at dawn to "watch" the neighborhood wake up. Grandma loved doing that. I am surprised she let me drink coffee at my very young age but it sure didn't do any harm. We would greet the mailman and talk to neighbors walking by.
I remember putting the porch to bed every night...ha! That meant remove the cushions or covering them up. I also remember that coal furnace in the basement. What a mess! Bill, glad your family helped them out as they got older. I didn't realize Grandpa and Grandma didn't have a car. That must have been a bit inconvenient. I guess we all remember "Tippy". LOL. She sure was a fat dog.
Yes, Grandma was a beautiful seamstress. She made all of Donna's, Paulette's and my dresses, always full of lace, very pretty.
Mel, I remember the badmitten also. I loved to play that. I wasn't any good at it but we didn't care when we were small.
Jeff, I sure remember the "hearts". None of us kids were allowed to play but I sure enjoyed watching. The grownups loved playing hearts for hours and hours. I do to this day. I will play with anyone that has the time. Sure is nice walking down memory lane with you all.
Donna (Mar 13, 2015)
Wow, Bill and Linda you really got going on those good memories. Grandma always called it "putting the porch to sleep" when she was ready to go into the house and sometimes that was late during the summer. She bought covers for the long wicker couch, chairs and the glider. Yes, the glider was always some shade of green. I remember helping her paint it one year. Every few years Grandma would buy new cushions or make them, I don't remember.
When I would stay with them during the summer ( when I was old enough ), I would help them with the washing and that was a job! Grandma wanted those sheets clean and sparkling bright. Those were the days that you hung your washing out on the clothes line, or in the basement, in the winter. And you had to iron everything, what a job.
I think I have a picture of Grandpa sitting in the chair with his grey suit, white shirt and red bow tie. The morning glories were always beautiful. Remember Grandpa wearing one of Grandma's old leg hose on his head to cover his hair at night? Grandma made him do that so the pillow case would not get stained with his hair oil.
Grandma loved to sing and she sang loud. When she would be in the kitchen working at the back of the house, you could hear her singing out front in the yard. She loved having company and especially family. And they would come from all over.
Do you remember that she would take in a renter. She rented one of the bedrooms out to a man I guess to have a little extra money. The man she had the longest worked in Weirton but his family was from up this way in Ohio. I forget his name; he was very nice. Grandma called that bedroom, Uncle Lakin's room. That was because he would stay with them sometimes.
Guess I better quit for now; I could write a book. Good memories and some really funny.
Bill (Mar 13, 2015)
Donna mentioned Grandpa walking a lot. I don’t know what age he was when he retired but he walked down Center Street to Weirton’s main street to catch a bus to the Weirton Steel mill each day he worked. And of course he had to walk back up the Center Street when he returned home - in all kinds of weather, rain or snow, hot or cold. In addition, he mowed their lawn with a push mower. They had a city lot so it wasn’t huge but still they had a nice back yard which he kept looking very nice and neat. So yes he got his exercise.
Donna (Mar 13, 2015)
Grandpa did not want to retire at 65; he said that when a man retired, he only lived a few years. I think he retired at 70 years of age and died at 72. I might be wrong on those years but I am pretty sure he retired at 70. Grandpa was not a lazy man. He had flower bushes around the house; he liked to keep them weeded and all. He helped Grandma wash the clothes when he was not on day shift. He did work shifts at the Power House.
And I can tell you he helped her clean the house. I never heard him complain about doing all that and I was there a lot in the summer months until I was around 15.
Sandra (Martha’s daughter Mar 15, 2015)
Hi guys! Sandra here! 2 days ago, I wrote for 30 minutes on my computer to all of you because I have really enjoyed reading about everybody’s memories. Then I accidentally hit the delete button. My husband says I am the most electronically challenged person he has ever known! I guess there must be some truth to that. I had poured my heart and soul into that letter to all of you, and I was so frustrated with myself that I had to just walk away for a day or two.
Now, I am going to try again! I’m sure Tommy and I have different memories and perhaps a slightly different perspective from you all, only because we only got up there once a year till Grandpa Milam died and Grandma came to live with us in Lubbuck, TX, after that.
Tippy. Let’s talk about Tippy! How many of you knew that he started out as my Mama ( Martha's ) and Daddy’s ( Butch ) dog?
As some of you know, they met at the aircraft factory in Akron during the war (WW II). Daddy ( Butch ) had been sent there to a radio school, and somehow they met. Daddy took her down to Texas to meet his parents and while they were down there, they eloped! Mama went back to Ohio and Daddy went back to the Marine base in San Diego where he was stationed. Aunt Georgie was snooping around in Mama’s dresser drawers and found Daddy’s letters to her. Of course she discovered they were married. Shortly thereafter, Mama took the train to California! While they were out there, they bought a little black puppy. Tippy. Mama got pregnant with Tommy. Daddy thought he was getting ready to deploy overseas, so Mama and Tippy went back to Weirton, WV.
Tommy and Mama ( Martha ) stayed in Weirton with Grandma and Grandpa until the war was over. Then Uncle Dix and Aunt Helen drove Mama and Daddy and Tommy down to Texas. At that point Tippy was Grandma and Grandpa dog, for sure. Question. When did Tippy die? Was he still alive when Grandpa died, and if so, what happened to him?
Some of my strongest memories of 303 Center Street, are of the basement. Oh, that scary basement! You have to understand, where I came from in the panhandle of Texas, basements were virtually unheard of. At least in my world! Tornado shelters in peoples backyards, yes. But basements, not so much! The furnace petrified me! I remember Grandpa’s wash tubs down there. I was always a snoopy kid, and I would sneak down there, really just to scare myself!
Speaking of snooping in basements, one time we went to Aunt Helen’s and Uncle Dix’s house right after they moved into the house that Aunt Helen is still in. Once again, I sneaked down into their basement. Why, I have no idea, but I was trying to plug in either the washer or the dryer. I was standing in a little water, and I got a shocked so bad that it knocked me down! I never told a soul until I was grown. I guess I knew I would be in trouble if I told what I was doing!
Jeff, that was the trip when you took me down to what I would now call a rock quarry, or something like that. It’s interesting to me that what can be such a huge memory to one person, sometimes is not even remembered by another. That is a memory I will never forget.
Another memory I will always remember is the time GooGoo bit me! If you remember GooGoo raise your hand!!! I sure do! We had gone to Aunt Clara and Uncle Lakin’s house. I was trying to pet him and he bit me on my palm right below my thumb on the fleshy part of my hand! I reacted like I always did when something unexpected happened to me. I ran! I ran out of the house and down the sidewalk! As usual in my childhood, the only person on the planet who could calm me down was my precious precious Daddy ( Butch ). How many times his soothing manner and calming voice rescued me from myself, I couldn’t count. I ache for him more now, than I even did when he died in July of 2001.
Who remembers this, “Can you build a box? Sure you can.” Uncle Lakin used to say that to me while he was playing cards at Grandma’s dining room table. I had a little girl crush on him and was also a little scared of him! Happy memories of long ago. Stories of Uncle Lakin were far reaching. My mother, Martha, would tell us stories of all her brothers and she told the stories enough that when Brandon and Andi (my youngest son and daughter-in-law) found out they were having a 4th son, Andi wanted to name him Laken. I was a little disappointed that she wanted to spell it Laken instead of Lakin, and it was the stories about Uncle Lakin that inspired his name.
Speaking of Rhett Laken Steele, he is 19 months old, and a real character. His older brothers are Walker, who will be 13 in April, and twin brothers, Jackson and Reagan who will be 11 in June. Laken is our little dividend.
Now to memories at Uncle Freer and Aunt Christine’s house. When I was a little girl and visiting there, I saw my first fish aquarium! To me, it seemed huge, and in my mind’s eye, it seemed to have millions of guppies in it. Because of that memory, from the time I was 18 until now at 65, I have had aquariums. Now, Bill and Carol, if you write back and tell me there was NEVER a fish aquarium in your Mom and Dad’s ( Freer ) home, I’ll know that half of my growing up years were nothing but a massive hallucination!
The first pool table I ever saw was in Uncle Freer’s basement. Again, with the basement memories! Somebody needs to get Janyce, Joyce and Jack’s e-mail addresses. I have Janyce and Joyce’s mailing addresses but not there e-mail addresses. I bet they would have some fun memories to share.
I also loved to go to Dorothy’s house. Jackie, Janyce and Joyce were so special to me, also. I am known as “Gram” to my 8 grandchildren. Would any of you venture a guess why? Aunt Georgie was known as “Gram” to her grandchildren. I loved her so much that I vowed at 18 years old that if I was ever a grandmother, I would be known as “Gram” to them. I feel the need to close this letter, because I am getting a little weary of typing and I am panicked that I will hit the delete button again! I truly love you all, and all the memories of a lifetime.
Linda (Mar 15, 2015)
Sandra, I loved reading your email. Glad you tried it a second time.. ha! Such great memories... put a smile on my face.. I think GooGoo was a little high strung.. sorry you got bit.. I didn't remember that.. We all loved our little GooGoo.
Carol Milam Ogden (Freer’s daughter Mar 15, 2015)
Sandra, we did have an aquarium. Bill will have to tell you how we came to have it. And those guppies just kept having babies! But it was the Siamese fighting fish that was really colorful.
Yes, I too was bitten by GooGoo! I walked in the house and he jumped up and bit me on the stomach. But, more fondly, I remember spending a week with Linda, Paulette and Donna at their home. I remember Linda Kay talking me into putting a blond streak in my hair (I had my 8th grade school picture taken with that steak) and getting me into a black and tan sheath (tight fitting) dress - I felt so grown up. I think they also put make-up on me for the first time. It was the summer before eighth grade.
We also went to that really large church. Was that Rex Humbard's Cathedral of Tomorrow? I really enjoyed that week with my cousins. Later in eight grade, I wanted braces and my Mom ( Christine ) would only let me get them if I got rid of the blond streak!
I loved when the adults played Setback. You could hear them bidding and Uncle Lakin moaning and everyone laughing. I think Lakin must have been very good and everyone wanted to “set” him. I also enjoyed when they played Hearts and someone got the Old Biddy! Oh! The wailing and crying until that person went on to 'Shoot the Moon'.
When I slept over at Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma and I would lie in her bed and watch the neighbors - the Woods - as they went through their nightly ritual. Grandma would say: "Watch, Mr. Woods is going to come in and get ice cream now." I wonder now if they realized that Grandma spied on them at night?
Grandpa was always quiet around me unless my Dad ( Freer ) was there. Then they would talk and talk. It fascinated me that Grandpa called Aunt Martha "Pat" and he called my father "Jack". He may be the one to give Uncle Dix his nickname as well. Once my brothers were older and in college, Dad and I would go see Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma always had peanut butter, crackers and potato chips for me. Grandpa and Dad ( Freer ) ate cantaloupe with salt and ice cream. Sometimes there was angel food cake and strawberries. But I don't remember the strawberry cake that Linda mentioned. I think I loved the chocolate cake.
You are all correct that they did not have a car but they ordered their groceries from Carl's Market and Carl would bring them in a cardboard box. Not only did Grandpa walk to the bus but the path was downhill to the bus, then after a long day’s work he had to climb that hill to come home. I walked that hill a few times when I stayed there and it was not easy - and I was much younger.
I would play hymns on their piano and Grandma would sing while she cleaned the house or cooked. I couldn't play from memory so I took a church hymnal over. We did Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art. She really did enjoy it and so did I.
I remember it was always an exciting time when the Texas family came north to visit because that meant we would all get together. The rest of the time, we only saw cousins now and then, and in my teens hardly at all.
At my home, once Paulette and I varnished the glass window panes of the storm doors that my father had been working on. We thought we were helping. Boy was my Dad ( Freer ) unhappy! But they were playing cards and we snuck upstairs and did the deed!
I also remember the pool table. Jeff told me once that he was frustrated that he couldn't beat me, but he was a good head shorter than I was. I wish I was on my computer; I would attach the photo I have of us in the basement. Well, enough from me.
Jeff (Mar 15, 2015)
Ha! Story of my life - I couldn't beat my Mom ( Helen ) at ANYTHING, not golf, not bowling, not tennis, not ping pong. I could hold my own in board games, but that was it. And I couldn't beat Carol at pool!
One of my favorite memories of Carol, though, is riding around in her Chevrolet Corvair convertible on a very chilly evening with the top down and the heater roaring full blast. I have no idea where we were going, probably just running an errand, but I know it was a weekend. Carol had a paper or presentation due on Monday and she hadn't even begun! Talk about a free spirit. I was very impressed. Carol would also say things like, "You're so far out; you're in." Ahhh, the sixties.
And Sandra, you're absolutely right - I remember your visit, but I don't have a specific memory of us going to the Clay Pits. (I'm sure it wasn't the rock quarry - that was "off limits.") But we used to go to the Clay Pits quite a bit when we first moved to Oakland Ave, Findlay. And I do remember Tippy very fondly though I had no idea he started out as Aunt Martha's dog. By the time Melanie and I met him, he was pretty old.
Janyce Conn Hickman (Dorothy Conn’s daughter Mar 16, 2015)
Hi everyone! Thanks for including me in this awesome stroll down memory lane! So much of these snap shots in writing has brought back many memories for me. It was for such a short period of time and yet etched in our memories forever. Badminton in the back yard. All of us kids sleeping on Aunt Gertha's living room floor.
Donna Lee’s wedding shower!
Card games at the huge dining room table!
I even remember Aunt Gertha's glass drinking glasses. I just loved them. I couldn't wait to grow up and buy some of my own!!! So funny...
Love to all. So glad to know you are doing well. Hope to hear more from you.
Take care and God bless,
Janyce Conn Hickman
Bill (Mar 16, 2015)
Tippy - One side of Grandpa’s Tippy's tongue was black and Grandpa said that meant that Tippy was part Chow. After we moved to Wintersville, Ohio, we also got a puppy which was mostly collie and mostly black. So being the creative kids we were, we named our dog Tippy also.
It has struck me that given our age differences and the family changes which occurred over time that our experiences were slightly different. I suspect that only Donna and I (at age 4 or 5) remember playing with Grandma Milam's pots and pans which were kept in a cabinet beneath her kitchen sink. I was always fascinated by the coffee percolator and how it went together and worked. Of course, our parents wouldn't let us play with pots and pans at home so it seemed like a real treat to see how they fit together - we must have made a lot of noise though. The second floor of their house was interesting to explore. The bathroom had a special smell if you remember. I think it was mostly due to the green hand soap they used - Irish Spring was it? Also Grandpa had a brush with a brown wooden handle and long bristles that he used to apply shaving lather. My Dad ( Freer ) for years used Old Spice after-shave but Grandpa used something different. It was green in color, perhaps Mennen Skin Bracer. Anyone know?
World War II - I can remember when Uncle Dix returned from World War II in late 1945. We had just returned from Colorado Springs, Colorado, where my father was stationed with the Army Air Corp under General Ent - in fact my father became his personal chauffer. Some months after Dix returned from Germany, I spent a weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's in Weirton and Uncle Dix showed me his Erector Set and one Saturday helped me make a truck according to a plan. But sadly we had to disassemble it to put the parts away. Sunday he went to visit Aunt Helen in Cadiz I think. Grandma said that I could play with the Erector Set again. So I re-made the truck but was stumped at one point. When Uncle Dix returned that evening, he was impressed with what I had done, showed me where I had gone wrong and helped me finish it.
In my early forties, I began to miss my Dad ( Freer ) and made a couple trips to Wintersville just to talk with him at length. We would talk until 2 in the morning. My Dad flew with General Ent to various air forces bases in the US for meetings. Late in life, my Dad told me that in 1944 they flew to Texas for a top secret briefing. Somehow my Dad ( Freer ) was allowed in the room; it was about the atomic bomb!! Can you imagine?
Dad also told me that as a single young man he had a reputation for being a fast driver. So a car dealer in Steubenville offered to send him to a racing school in Florida which my Dad did for a week. But after thinking about it, he decided not to leave the Weirton Steel mill. So no stock car racing career for him.
Aunt Martha and Uncle Butch would visit Uncle Dix and Aunt Helen for long weekends when they spent the Winter in Gulfport, MS. On two occasions I drove from Shelby, NC, to visit with them. They would reminisce about the old days and show photographs; we also played Hearts and Bridge. Dix and Helen would prepare a cookout one night; and we would go to a seafood restaurant another night. Dix and Martha had many favorable things to say about my Dad (Freer) who was like a father to them when they were growing up since my Dad was so much older.
One morning before Martha and Butch arrived Dix and I went for a long walk on the beach. He like most WW II veterans never talked much about his service. But he told me that he was in the artillery with Patton's Third United States Army. Artillery squads had about 15 men. Their weapon was a mobile cannon called a howitzer. Uncle Dix was with Patton's Third Army when they marched to relieve U.S. troops surrounded at Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. Dix told me that by the end of the War, only 6 of his original squad survived the war. It's no wonder that he wanted to be buried in his Army uniform; he was justifiably proud of his service.
The best part of Uncle Dix’s war story was what happened after VE Day. Patton's Army had infiltrated into northern Austria. Most of the large army had literally nothing to do so their commanders tried to fill their days with parade marching and inspections of their bunks, uniforms and shoe shines, etc. Uncle Dix to his everlasting credit would have nothing to do with it. He told his commander that he enlisted to defeat the Germans and hadn't enlisted to be a professional soldier. He explained that he and his surviving men had been in a rough war, they had accomplished their mission and they wanted to go home. Dix was then considered a kind of miss-fit so they assigned him and other similarly minded men to a camp in the mountains where they had nothing to do at all. He said they acquired some skis and repaired an old jeep which could carry them up the side of a mountain so they could ski down. That’s how they spent their days. In the evenings they went to local taverns and ate bratwursts and drank German beer. I am so proud of him!
Uncle Dix also told me about college and his career with Cooper Tire. During college he took a variety of engineering courses that interested him in electrical, chemical, industrial engineering. Early in his senior year, the Dean called him in and asked him what his major was. Dix said: "I can't decide; I like everything". The Dean reviewed his course work and told Dix that he would not be able to graduate with any specialized engineering degree, like Chemical Engineering, etc. However the Dean said that if Dix took certain courses his senior year that he could graduate with an "Engineering Degree". And so he did.
Uncle Dix’s last position at Cooper Tire was head of planning. For a 10 year expansion plan, he designed a series of factory additions. They included the organization of the new space for production flow and where every piece of equipment was to be placed for maximum efficiency. Six or eight years after Dix retired, the President of Cooper asked him to come to the factory to show Dix around. By that time, all the additions that Dix had planned were completed - exactly as Dix had laid out - and a couple years earlier than planned. He was very pleased to know that.
Previously, I wrote that Dix showed me how to make my first balsa wood model airplane and years later taught me how to parallel park a car - I having worn out my father's patience. Uncle Dix had a very systematic approach to parking which made sense to me: 1, 2, 3, 4. I sometimes wished that Uncle Dix had been my father. I think he and I had a lot in common; our minds have a logical / scientific bent. So it was very special for me that I could talk with him in later life and get to know him better.
Grandpa Claude Milam – I, having lived in The South since 1978, have come to think that Grandpa saw himself as a “Southern Gentleman” which is why he wore his white shirt and a bow tie to work at the Power Plant and each Sunday. He could be quiet and so could my Dad ( Freer ) who was a good listener. On one of the reunion tapes you can see how happy my father was surrounded by his siblings and their children; he really enjoyed himself that day. One of the happiest days of his life, I think. Speaking of Grandpa giving folks nicknames; when I was young, he referred to me as The Senator - a wish of his I suppose since he was so into politics that he once ran for comissioner of Kanawha County, WV, which included Charleston. Uncle Dix has a comment about that on one of the VHS tapes.
Speaking of how things changed over time, in the late 1950s Grandma Milam had a "heart attack" and was in the Weirton Hospital a week - more or less. Rest and limited exertion were prescribed for her so their bed from upstairs was brought downstairs and placed in the dining room. ( I don't remember what happened to the large dining table where we gathered for dinners and our parents played cards ). But her illness brought an end to Grandma's large cooking days and the many pies and cakes we enjoyed so much in earlier years. It became a rather solemn place to visit for a couple years. By 1959, I ( Bill ) was off to college then med school, then military service with the U.S. Air Force in Germany for 4 years then to Ann Arbor, MI, 3 years for my pathology training which I completed in 1975. I then moved to Memphis for 3 years. Then to North Carolina in 1978. So I missed most of what the rest of you experienced in Ohio after 1959.
I guess the common time period for family memories for me was the mid 1940s to late 1950s after WW II. Grandma was young enough and energetic enough to think of entertaining her family on a grand scale and did it magnificently. When we all got together in happy extended family reunions so to speak. I should mention that there were smaller get-togethers at my parents house and Dix has videoed some shots of those. Since Uncle Lakin and Aunt Clara were about 80 miles away, we visited them from time to time over the years. I remember around my age 13, we visited back and forth and we kids enjoyed it very much. Once Uncle Lakin and my Dad ( Freer ) took my brother, Bob, and I to a Cleveland Indians baseball game. Lakin and Dad carried on like they did playing cards – with exaggerated reactions to the plays.
It was great to see everyone on the VHS tapes and to hear Uncle Dix’s voice again. He did a terrific job of splicing all the clips together which took him quite awhile to accomplish - but what a gift for us.
Carol (Mar 17, 2015)
Drop Box : I added family pictures and all the historical documents I have scanned including the Milam Family Bible pages that Great Uncle Vernon's grandson ( Douglas Milam, M.D. son of Franklin Milam, M.D. ) sent Bill and me. Also there are a lot of old Ben Milam tax records. And more pictures and birth and death certificates.
If you are interested, take look: ??
Carol (Mar 17, 2015)
I have paid for one year of storage of 1Terabit of data. So the pictures will be up for at least a year. The nice thing about Dropbox is if you register for even the free storage, it will save the Dropbox to your desktop, then the documents are on your computer. Many of these are things you ( Bill ) have sent me over the years as well as Doug Milam's documents and the census records that I researched. And Grandpa Milam's selective service records for WWI and WWII. There are also your ( Bill’s ) photos of Aunt Helen's 85th Birthday Celebration.
Donna (Mar 17, 2015)
It is so true Bill, if we don't get something written down, make a video or DVD, our children and grandchildren won't have anyone to go too for answers to questions that they will have.
I wish I had gotten more information from my Mother ( Clara ) and others in the family. Once they are gone, that is it. Except for Aunt Helen, that generation is gone and we are the old generation. Hard to believe.
It is so nice of you to take this history of our family on yourself to produce for the future generations some of the memories we have. God bless you richly, Bill.
Helen Milam (Dix’s wife Mar 20, 2015)
HI, I am really enjoying all your e-mails. I guess I am the only one left of my generation. I remember the big meals Grandma made; also remember all the dishes we (the daughters in law) had to wash and clean up afterwards. I have no family left of my own so I really appreciate that you still think of me as family, especially Bill and Sandra. Really enjoyed your pictures, Carol.
Love you all. Aunt Helen
EMAILS from 2018
Donna - Aug 23, 2018
You know, I was just thinking the same, poor Grandpa is never smiling. One of the things I remember about him is, he just loved to sit in his chair on the porch with his feet up on the banister and talk. He seemed to love to talk when people were around. Grandma always had her stories, but I remember Grandpa with his stories also. He would smile and laugh.
I don't think he ever got over losing their farm.
I remember one of the times when I was there, Grandpa's siblings came to visit and Grandpa went to his bedroom or out the back door, I think his bedroom. He wouldn't come down to visit with them. After they left I asked Grandma why Grandpa wouldn't come down and visit with his family and Grandma said he was ashamed he had lost the farm. That was hard on Grandma also, she loved that farm. She would tell me stories when they first got married and how Grandpa would come in for dinner (lunch) and he would chase her around the table until he caught her.
Grandma said they hired 14 men to help with the crops and she would fix dinner for them, she loved it. Those were very sad days for them and I don't think either of them totally got over it. Unfulfilled dreams.
Linda 8/24 - One of the distinct memories I have is staying up late with Uncle Dix and him talking about being in the service in France and having to dig those fox holes and how cold it was. I only remember talking to him that one time.
Yes, Grandma sewed dresses and clothes for us 3 girls. She did a beautiful job. Grandma was a wonderful cook. Grandma and I use to sit out on the glider real early in the morning and drink coffee while the neighborhood was waking up. Grandma love to do that. I don't remember Grandpa much. I don't think Grandpa was real outgoing... kind of quiet and to himself is how I remember him.
Donna and Paulette, do you have anything you can add for Bill?
Paula 8/24 - I remember Grandma the most; Grandpa not a lot. He would go to his room a lot; I do wish I knew him better.
But Grandma loved all her grandkids. I remember she would have a lot of us setting on the floor - maybe 5 or 6 of us - and she would tell the story of Jesus from birth to death. And it didn't matter how many times you'd ask her about the story, she would talk about it. I remember saying "that’s what I WANT".
Grandma cared about the people around her; she always loved family coming. She's have 2 or 3 cakes and pies on the table. I remember the wonderful Christmas we had down at Grandma's. There are pictures; I don't have any but I remember seeing them.
Does anyone remember the button box?
Oh, I do remember Grandpa and Grandma taking me to a movie: LADY AND THE TRAMP. It was nice. I was the baby of we three girls. It was always wonderful going to Grandma’s but I did miss my Mom.
Tippy, the dog, and I would walk to the store. It was a good ways away and Tippy would go with me. I have thought in these past years that store was a long way away and I was real little.
Paula 8/24 -
I do remember on a Sunday we would be at Grandma's and all of your family ( Freer, Christine, Bill, Bob and Carol ) would be there. Then at some point you ( Bill ) went away to college. As a kid I remember asking Aunt Christine why didn't Bill come when he was older. She would say “he's in school”.
I also remember Carol teaching me to play cards, to deal and what have you. I remember the beautiful green dress Carol got for something ( I don't remember what it was ). Carol looked so nice in it.
Also I remember in your basement ( Freer's house ), a bow and arrow. Bobby showed me how to shoot it. It would sting your fingers if you did it wrong.
I remember all the wonderful times we had on Grandma's and Grandpa's front porch: talking and putting the porch to bed late at night amd waking it up in the morning. Donna will have a lot of stories about the porch.
Donna 9/2 - I stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's a lot during the war ( WW II ) time. Uncle Dix was always so much fun to be around and he would interact with us kids. I would walk up his legs and flip and go back up his legs, etc. (Dix went to basic training in 1943 and to North Carolina in Spring of 1944.)
I was at Grandma's when he came home. I remember him coming in late at night and he had on his uniform and the big back pack that they carried all their belongings in. (December 1945) Uncle Dix was never the same when he came home from the war. He was nervous and kind of shaky at first. Of course I didn't understand it; I was too young. I must have been four years old and he didn't want to play like he did before he went to war.
Grandma always said Uncle Dix didn't know why he was the only one that lived with the other men he was with in one of the battles. I think there were nine men held up in a barn and they were taking fire and the others I think were all killed but Uncle Dix and he couldn't get over that, he felt guilty for being alive. Grandma said she would tell him that she was praying for him every day and I am sure others were also. But Grandma said that Uncle Dix couldn't accept that God spared him and not the others.
I remember Grandma saying ( when she would come up from Texas for part of the summer and stay with her different children ) that Uncle Dix found all the receipts from his Army pay and receipts Grandma had to show where she spent his money or part of his money. And some of that money went to help my Dad ( Lakin ) when he would be in a mess. I don't know all the particulars, but I guess Uncle Dix was somewhat upset.
The way I remember the story about college was: Uncle Dix sent his money home to Grandma to save so he could go to college and become a doctor. Grandma spent the money or at least some of the money and he couldn't go to become a doctor. This is what I have always believed; I may have the story mixed up but this is the way I have always remembered it.
Your Father ( Freer ) was a wonderful man and was like a second Father to his siblings. He interacted with his siblings, all younger than him, and was just wonderful. I believe Freer and my Dad were close.
Grandpa never had a car so it was your Dad ( Freer ) who got their first car and he took them everywhere. What a man your Dad was. A hero.
When Grandpa died and Grandma went to Texas to live with Aunt Martha and her family, Uncle Freer, Uncle Dix and my Dad ( Lakin ) were deciding who got what, and cleaning, and clearing things out. I worked some that day before I had to go back to Akron.
( Lakin and Clara were married, September 7th, 1940. )