In a span of 27 years my Martin hero, Ray Houston Martin, lived in a time of hardships most of us have never known. This is his story:
Ray Houston was born September 27, 1916 in Ida, Louisiana to Walter Houston Martin and Emma Pearl Bain. President Woodrow Wilson was elected to his second term of office in the fall of that year. The following year the United States declared war on Germany and became a participant in WW I. Ray’s father’s draft registration is dated September 1918 however, he never served. WW I lasted until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 when Ray was three years old.
By 1929 the stock market had crashed and Ray’s father, Walter, who had worked for Gulf Oil, now had diabetes and lost one of his legs. Unable to provide for his family, Walter became despondent and by the 1930 U. S. Census he was listed as a patient at the Central Louisiana State Hospital in Pineville, Louisiana. His wife, Pearl and their four unmarried children lived with her father. Walter remained at the mental hospital until his death in 1937.
Ray, being the eldest son in the family, worked, wherever he could trying to support his mother and siblings. He worked in the timber industry, the petroleum industry as well as for the CCC.
The United States declared war on Japan with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Times were difficult for all American families and sacrifices had to be made. Gas was rationed, auto makers stopped making autos for private use, scrap metal and rubber were collected for the war effort and jobs were almost impossible to find. However Ray managed to find happiness with his fiancée Mary Craft of Leesville, Louisiana.
On June 4, 1942 Ray enlisted in the Army. His records show he was single with dependents, namely his mother and siblings. In a letter to his mother on July 19, 1942, he speaks of money for her and saving good tires.
In this letter he says that he’s “fit as a fiddle” but that it is hot there. Apparently he received a check from his mother that he says he returned to her by air mail. He encourages her to get out more and possibly go to Leesville for a visit. Then he tells her that she should start getting $22.00 about the first. He had applied for her as a dependent of his; however the government denied it, so he was having that amount withheld from his check and sent to her monthly. He states that he has had more money since he had been in service because he doesn’t go any place to spend it.
Then he goes into receiving a letter from the finance company regarding car past due car payments. He needs to make payments or they will repossess it. He says will tell them that he is but he isn’t. Then he suggests they take the tires off and put on some old “rags” if she doesn’t use it. He signs off by telling her to tell all hello; to take care of herself and that he will write more next time.
In a later letter he again wants the tires changed out (remember rubber/tires were difficult to come by during the war) and to sell them for $10.00 each and keep the money.
On March 29, 1943 Ray was killed while serving in North Africa.
I have tried to obtain his war records from the National Personnel Records only to be told the repository they were stored in had burned and that I should write again requesting a Final Pay Voucher. I did and the final payment voucher stated he was in Tunisia, North Africa.
In Ray’s short life he had lived through some historic events that occurred in our country that had had five Presidents: namely Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. It was not until May 10, 1948, when Harry Truman was President, that his body was being shipped home by rail to Vivian, Louisiana for burial on July 9, 1948 at Bethsaida Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana. His body was accompanied by S/Sgt. William H. Nance.
Thanks for Ray and so many other young men who have served, who gave their lives or are presently serving in order that you and I may live in a free America.
Judy Stanley, Bobbie Ann Stanley Mumford and Linda “Kitty” Stanley LeBlanc
The two cute little girls are my sisters, Judy and Kitty, and cousin, Bobbie Ann, was made about 1956 when we lived in Jefferson, Texas. Judy and Kitty’s dresses were red and white polka dots. The umbrella Bobbie Ann is holding actually belonged to my sisters and was red and white as well.
Harvey Samuel Gingles married Ella Mae Daniel in 1910. Of this marriage there were twelve children. Seven of their sons served in the military along with one daughter; however one son, Claude Norris, is the subject of today’s Military Monday. Claude Norris, or Buster as he was called, was born October 22, 1911 in Elberton, Georgia.
Buster served both in the U. S. Army and the U. S. Air Force. In the Army Infantry in World War II he served in Germany. In the Air Force he was a fireman. Between the two branches of the military he spent twenty-one years in service retiring as a Staff Sergeant. Other locations he was station at included Camp Stewart, Georgia, Panama, the Philippine Islands, Reese AFB Texas, Columbus AFB in Mississippi, Roswell AFB in New Mexico Gary AFB in Texas and Barksdale AFB in Louisiana.
On December 8, 1939 Buster married Buena Gladys Martin Hanson, a young widow with three children; James Kenneth Hanson, Myrtle Virginia Hanson and Billy Noel Hanson. Three Gingles children, Roy Claude, Ella Pearl and Robert Dale were born to Buster and Gladys. As often happens while in the military, Buster was on away duty when Claude and Ella were born. Robert Dale died at birth.
Gladys died in the Barksdale Hospital at the age of fifty-one. Four years later Buster married Phonelle Lynch Hanson, the ex-wife of his step-son, James Kenneth Hanson.
Claude Norris Gingles passed away on March 31, 2006 and was buried with full military rites by the Barksdale Air Force Base Honor Guard at Centuries Memorial Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana.
On this Monday I would like to honor J. T. Bain, Air Force # 6398048, my first cousin once removed. J. T. was the first child of William Edward Bain and Buena Vista Martin. He was born October 12, 1912. J. T. first enlisted and reported to active duty on December 12, 1936 at the age of twenty-four. As you can see from the newspaper article listed below, William Edward and Buena had a very patriotic family as not only did J. T. serve, his brothers, Laurice, Marvin, James Houston and sister, Justine, did as well.
Following his first tour of duty J. T. reenlisted again on January 22, 1940, again on October 12, 1945 and lastly on October 12, 1948. He had received an Honorable Discharge each time prior to his next reenlistment. J. T. received his training at Barksdale Air Field as well as in Savannah, Georgia. He served as a mechanic with a P-38 fighter squadron and served in India. While in service he attained the rank of Master Sergeant.
J. T.’s Death Certificate states that he passed away at the 3700 USAF Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in Bexar County, Texas of a tumor of the right temporal lobe.
My next step was to research his Headstone Application, which I discovered. Page one is listed below:
From this I discover his place of birth, written in red, as Kiblah, Arkansas. The application is signed by his wife on April 15, 1954 and states the tombstone will be shipped via Railway Express and that his brother, L. E. (Laurice) has made arrangements to transport the stone to the cemetery.
For some reason, I decided I would check the next page in the tombstone applications as I have many Bain relatives that served in WW II. Much to my surprise, the back side of the application listed all of his military history! It also states that he was in the 3555 Maintenance and Supply Group.
J. T. and his wife, Mary Belle Hinton share a tombstone at Bethsadia Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.
My paternal grandmother, Beulah Thompson Stanley, was born May 30, 1888 in Oxford, Calhoun County, Alabama to Alex Thompson and his wife Martha Able. While living with her sister, Essie Thompson Wall, Beulah first met her husband, Wesley Birdwell Stanley. He was in Huffines working in logging and came riding up on a big white horse named Eli.
Beulah and Wes were married November 13, 1908 from this marriage there were six children, two of which died young. All of her grandchildren referred to her as Granny however Wes most often called her “Miss Hootie”.
Granny was petite, always wore starched ironed dresses, liked her nails done, and always wore her hair short. She loved pretty jewelry and while she didn’t have, she particularly loved diamonds which she referred to as “di-monts”. She was a member of the Purity Chapter Order of the Eastern Star in Ida, Louisiana and enjoyed the social events of the order.
She was a talented musician and she and Wes could play most any instrument. They taught their children well and the group often played at family gatherings or when others came to visit.
Wes worked mainly as an over-seer for many plantations in Caddo Parish and I suppose you could explain Granny’s life as privileged. She had a maid as well as a man who came in daily to build a fire before she got up, put a pan of biscuits in the oven and milk the cow. I don’t recall her cooking too much, but she really knew how to make fried apple or apricot pies!
Wes pampered Granny all of her life, especially in her later years after she suffered a stroke. He did everything for her including adapting a chair with wheels so that she could move around in the house.
When we went to visit the silverware would be in the center of the table covered by a table cloth. If you spent the night you could barely turn over for all the handmade quilts piled high on the bed. She dipped snuff and could spit into the fireplace from half way across the room. And of course she had that special snuff brush made from a black gum twig, carefully chewed until it became soft enough to be dipped into the snuff.
One of the favorite things we grandchildren loved most about being at Granny’s was playing with a big brass bowl someone had brought her from Mexico. It was large enough for one child to sit in it with legs crossed. Your brother, sister or cousin would wind you up and spin it around. I suppose maybe the Stanley grandkids invented the Sit and Spin we know today.
Recently while visiting with cousin Neva Stanley Thomas, she gave me a most prized possession of Granny’s….. a collection of shoes from Petty Pottery in Ida, Louisiana. I am told that at one time Granny owned almost every piece of pottery that Petty made.
Also, a special thanks to Neva for giving me the doily crocheted by her mother, Oneta Tolleson Stanley, for the Petty Pottery shoes to sit on.
Beulah and Wes were married sixty years before her death in 1968. Both she and Wes are buried at Munnerlyn Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.
Anna Pearl Martin, the second daughter of Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin, was born September 10, 1910 in Ida, Louisiana. Anna was named for her grandmother Anna Lyle Mangham Martin and her mother. She was blonde with brown eyes and attended school in Ida.
On March 10, 1928 Anna married Clell Dodd in Miller County, Arkansas and that same year their daughter Margaret Janice Dodd was born. The 1930 census for Madison Parish, Louisiana dated April 16, 1930 states that she was seventeen years of age when she married. According to a newspaper article from the Madison Journal dated July 4, 1930, Clell was killed by a freight train. The story states that he had been employed by Sondheimer Lumber Company however the saw mill had recently shut down. It is believed he was trying to board an Illinois Central train bound for Monroe, Louisiana where he was to look for a job. According to by-standers at the depot, he slipped and fell beneath the train and was badly mangled. Apparently the train crew did not realize the accident had happened as the train never stopped.
On March23, 1936 Anna married Clisto Dodd, a cousin to her first husband. Of this marriage she had a son, Bobby Ray Dodd. Bobby and Margaret were cousins and half brother and sister.
By the 1940 Census for Caddo Parish she is once again back in Ida, divorced and with two children to rear and educate. In need of an income, she worked for her grandfather, Benjamin Noel Bain after her grandmother, Margaret Price Bain died. She was his housekeeper and cook.
During the 1940s she moved to Doyline, Louisiana and became one of America’s Rosie the Riveters at the Army Ammunition Plant.
Daughter Margaret married very young and by the time Anna was 32, she was a grandmother. Margaret and her husband, Harry Gray and children, Harry Lynn, Janet and Clella Anna moved to California. Anna did not get to see them often however she did ride the bus to Vacaville a few times to visit.
In 1946 she is listed in the Shreveport City Directory as living at 1516 Jordan Street and was employed by Shreveport Garment Manufactures. Sometime thereafter she moved back to Ida where she worked as a cook in the local café. Bobby attended school there and was constantly into mischief however he and some other boys from Ida formed a band and thus began his love for music. Bobby served in both the Army and Air Force and later was a studio recording musician in Nashville, Tennessee.
1957 found “Aunt Nan” (as my siblings and I called her) back in Shreveport working at St. Vincent Convent where she cooked. The nuns loved her and were very kind and supportive.
Aunt Nan made it on her own through all the hardships life had dealt her. She never complained nor said an unkind word against anyone. For years she either rode the city bus or walked to work. She never owned a car until she was about sixty-five years old when she bought a little black Ford. Bobby taught her how to drive and she was off and running!
This photo was made at the 1984 Martin Reunion held on Caddo Lake when we honored her as the oldest surviving child of Walter and Pearl with our version of This Is Your Life! She was humbled and embarrassed but enjoyed each person recanting their memories of her and what she had meant to them through the years.
She had the best hugs and always had time for all her nieces and nephews. She was a wonderful cook and in the kitchen something delicious was always ready for whoever might drop in. She had a large collection of frogs of all kinds; in what-not shelves, on the porch and other places around the house. She had a warming smile, a big heart and loved her family dearly.
With aging came failing health and Bobby moved her to his home in Conroe, Texas where she lived with him, his wife Jean and their children Michael, Tammy and Matthew. Anna passed away on July 20, 1992. She is buried at Bethsaida Baptist Church Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.