Chapter One - My Parents
My parents were William Henry Bowerman and Eunice Bales Bowerman. Dad
had been married before and had a son named Clyde, who was an evil person
and eventually was sent to prison for life. My Mother had never been married
before. There were three of us children, Herman, Juanita and myself. I was
the youngest and Herman was the oldest. The world regarded us as poor White
trash. Juanita and my Mother proved them wrong over and over and over again.
My Father was born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1882 and was 16 years older
Return to Fireclay Menu
than my Mother. He was always foreman or superintendent of a heading mill
and was an alcoholic. He was not your average alcoholic in that he often
went six months to a year without drinking alcoholic beverages. Once he
started he could not stop drinking until he had spent all the money he had
and then sold everything he had and spent that money. Once he was broke and
could not raise any more money he would sober up.We never knew when the next
alcoholic binge would begin.
I suppose I was the only one in the family who loved my Father.
Dad had a second grade education and had educated himself in the school
of hard knocks. I think I understood my Dad and his total inability to
do anything other than what he did. He was hard on the family but never
abusive and I learned early that Dad talked tough but would not hurt a
fly. I guess it is understandable that my Dad loved me more than he did
my Sister or Brother.
Dad was a very large man, usually weighing anywhere from 225 to
275 pounds and with the height to handle about 225 without appearing
fat. He always wore the same size clothes and when he was down to 225 or
less he appeared to have enough room in the seat of his pants to keep an
orchestra there. My brother coined the nickname of Sag for Daddy because
of this. Dad was usually called Stall by everyone who knew him and I
leave it to your imagination as to why he would be called Stall.
My Mother was born in Sheridan, Arkansas in 1898 and was 16
years younger than my Father. Her Mother, Lula Bales, ran a boarding
house and my Mother vowed to marry the first man who asked her. That
man was William Henry Bowerman.
My Mother was 18 when Herman was born and only 24 when I was
born but I can never remember her as seeming young to me. She always
seemed to be an old person. I know now that this is not true but it
surely seemed that way. I suppose living through what she did with my
Father and my Brother is enough to make anyone old. Mother never smiled
and I guess she had little to smile about. She married Dad to get
away from boarders and in no time he saw to it that she had 24 of her
own to cook for and to wash for and to clean up after.
Mother had four brothers, Ross, Loys and William Otto and
Joseph. She was the only girl. Ross was the oldest and married a girl
named Beatrice and lived in Stamps, Arkansas. Loys married Lura and
lived in and around Smackover. William Otto, or Bill as he was always
called, was married a short time and divorced and lived with his Mother
most of his life. Bill finally married again when he was in his forties
and his Mother took him out of her will. Joseph married and lived in
Monroe, Louisiana. He was gassed with mustard gas by the Germans during
World War I and did not live long after the war. We considered his wife
to be fabulously wealthy because she received his $10,000 insurance. In
those days anyone with $10,000 was much like a millionaire today. They
had three children, two girls and a boy. The girls both graduated from
college and one was a dietitian and the other a pilot (among other
things I suppose). The pilot had a good job during World War II ferrying
war planes from the factory to their destination. The boy was caught by
police riding his motorcycle while standing on his head, and at an
excessive speed. The judge gave him the choice of jail or the Army and
he joined the Army.
Much of the above may not appear to be background information on
my Mother, but it really is. My Mother cared very much for her family.
When her Mother got cancer there were many, many relatives living near
her in Smackover, Arkansas that could have taken care of her, and in
fact did take care of her. My Mother was running an upholstery shop in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a long way from Smackover. My Mother did not think
twice about it. She immediately closed her shop and went to Smackover
and helped take care of her Mother until she died. After she died her
will left everything she had to my Mother and my Mother's brother, Loys.
My Mother and Loys knew that their brother Bill had built all the houses
my Grandmother had and they signed it all over to Bill. Bill sold out
and spent it all in less than three months, but that was his right. My
Grandmother once had the most beautiful place in Smackover and now it is
nothing but a paved Church parking lot.
To Chapter Two