Hubert Hefley Lindsey and Dorothy LaVerne Miller
(Uncle Hubert and Aunt LaVerne…our Dad and Mom)
Hubert Lindsey was born in Kelsey, Texas on September 23, 1912. His father and mother were, Billy and Mattie Lindsey (William Jasper Lindsey and Martha Emma Christina Lucinda Mull). He was the youngest of Grandpa and Grandma Lindsey’s sixteen children. The Lindsey children that were closest to him in age were Uncle Raymond, Aunt Mamie and Uncle Parley. He barely survived an infancy bout with pneumonia. Thanks to a devoted Mother, adoring siblings, a Gilmer doctor that made several carriage trips to the Lindsey home, and the faith of the Kelsey Latter-Day Saint community, he survived that near-death experience to live over 59 years. Hubert grew up in his family home in Kelsey and spent many hard days of both work and play with brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces…most of which remained his best friends throughout his life. During World War II, our Dad moved to California, taking his family (our Mother and adopted brother, David Michael) with him. For the next several years, he worked for the Army Corp of Engineers building defensive gun and anti-aircraft artillery bunkers up and down the coast of Northern California. By the time the couple began having children of their own (Steven, John, Marilyn, Harry and Paul Jeffrey (“P.J.” after Uncle Pleasant James who died a short time before Jeffrey was born), Hubert was working long, hard and hot days in the Bacon-American Brass and Iron Foundry, near the family’s California home in Oakland. When Bacon-American moved to Indiana (and Dad could persuade NONE of us to move to either Indiana or Kentucky), he went to work at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, where he served many years, with distinction and gratitude from the U.S. Navy, having earned a federal “top secret” security clearance. Our father contributed significant “practical” and “common sense” information to Navy investigative review boards and helped determine the reasons that caused the sinking of the Polaris-class, nuclear submarine, U.S.S. Thresher. He died, tragically, in an automobile accident after spending Thanksgiving with some of the Miller and Arrington (his wife’s) family, in 1971.
Dorothy LaVerne Miller was born in Clarksville, Texas on November 5, 1919 to her parents, Wade Hampton Miller and Willie Gertrude Arrington. (In the 1960’s, our Mother got SO EXCITED at the Monkee’s release of “Take the Last Train to Clarksville”. At a very early age, the Wade and Gertie Miller family “moved back” to Gilmer and Kelsey communities. Mother was the third child of nine. Her siblings (which, I BELIEVE, I have in order of birth and age) are Doris, Vivian, (then our Mom), Harry, Mildred, Bob, Joyce, Patricia June and Jimmy (a “half” brother from Gertie’s second marriage). During her teen years, Mother worked at a laundry in Gilmer (alongside Aunt Myrtle and Aunt Sadie) at a large “rolling” ironing machine (used primarily for linens). These ironing presses later earned the appropriate and deserving name of “mangler”. (I am writing this from my recollections of the stories told me by our Mom and by Aunt Myrtle. Cousin Fayrene probably has better recollection of these events. For example, even though I KNOW Aunt Myrtle worked with our Mom, I’m now thinking it may have been Aunt Blanche, instead of Aunt Sadie, that worked with them. I am clear that for MANY years, Aunt Myrtle walked, every day, back and forth from her work at the Gilmer laundry to her home with Uncle Lamar Hamberlin in Kelsey across from the Kelsey School House. Both of my parents, by the way, attended school at that school house. Their families were also Latter-Day Saints and members of the Kelsey, Texas Branch.
Dad, as were most of the young men in the Kelsey LDS Branch, were very aware of the “Miller Girls”. There were six of them, and each one of them, as they matured into “womanhood” were stunningly beautiful. (I’m not just biased in making this statement. Grandpa Wade Miller was a VERY handsome man. Grandma Gertie was a stern woman and her countenance bore that character trait. ALL of the Miller girls could have been Hollywood starlets with their good looks, poise and personalities. The same is true of both boy of the Miller boys, Harry and Bob…they were strikingly handsome men throughout every stage of their lives.
Dad had been friendly with all of the older Miller girls. During his association with them the two older girls became betrothed to their future husbands. (Doris to Jerry Ryan a young Coast Guard officer. Vivian to a very handsome and charismatic W.C. Stracener.) I think when these girls became “promised” to other men, Dad must have thought he better “move” on the apple of his eye (to whom he often called his “yellow rose of Texas”…because of her blonde hair and bright blue eyes). One day, after church services, he asked her to attend a barn dance with him, which was to be held the following weekend in Kelsey. This was in the summer of 1935. He arranged to travel to Gilmer (where the Millers were residing at the time) on horseback (after asking his father if he could use the horse to pick up his date for the dance). They danced, talked, laughed and overcame their “awkwardness” with each other during the evening. Mom was 16 years of age. Dad was 23 years old…soon to be 24.
The young, new couple had several dates during the weeks that followed. Apparently, my maternal grandmother thought my Father was frequenting their home a bit too often. One night, after promising to have my Mother home by 9 p.m., he returned her home a few minutes before the clock struck nine. LaVerne invited Hubert to sit on the front porch with her and “visit” until the nine o’clock hour approached. Right at the stroke of nine, my Grandma Miller came around the corner of the house, from the back of the place, with a 3’ length of 2”X4” in her hands. My Dad did not see his future mother-in-law approaching from his rear. By the time my Mom’s horrified expression on his face registered with him, he got clubbed over the head. Dazed, maybe even unconscious, he regained his senses as Grandma Gertie was ushering my Mom into the front door, stopping only long enough to hurl the length of lumber in my Father’s direction.
Undaunted, my Father advanced in his efforts to court my Mother. Within a few weeks, after saving up his dollars from hauling hay, cutting sugar cane and harvesting watermelons through the season, my Dad purchased a “friendship ring” for his new love. Together, they placed it in on the ring finger of her right hand, once he indicated that he wanted to save her left ring finger for an engagement or wedding ring. She was ecstatic and was carried away in romantic notions of her Prince Charming, Knight in Shining Armor and Sir Galahad…all stories which she had read in her ten years of school. She was taken with his “Cary Grant” good looks and he was smitten by her personality and beauty…the very best of all the Miller girls (he would say later in life). He, along with several of the other sons-in-law, long declared his mother-in-law to be one of the meanest biddies to ever walk the face of the earth. He and my Uncles Jerry, Jack and Herman all declared that she was just plain too ornery and mean to ever die…and that she was so damn mean that she’d probably outlive everyone in the families. My Dad often said that the good Lord would have to call Gertie up on judgment day and shoot her so that she would be dead BEFORE she was judged.
The very first day after accepting my Dad’s “friendship ring”, my Mom was eager and excited to show the ring to her future sisters-in law, while they were at work in the Gilmer laundry. Mom was standing at her work station in the center of the rolling iron, with two of Dad’s sisters at either end. It took three workers to feed the sheets through the ironing machine. (The laundry did all of the hospital and doctor’s office linens for the area, as well as several other commercial accounts.) Both Aunt Myrtle and Aunt Sadie (or, possibly Aunt Blanche) already knew about the ring from their baby brother, but they were excited and happily enthused to hear my Mom’s version of the previous evening and to see her ring. My Mom first showed the ring, upon her right hand’s ring finger, to her future sister-in-law on her right. After doing so, and having some happy and giddy conversation, she turned to her left to show her ring to Aunt Myrtle. As she swept her right hand around her, a loop of heavy ribbon that was tied in a bow (securing the cover on the large roller of the iron) fell over the small stone of her new ring, snagged it and pulled young LaVerne’s hand into the large roller of the ironing machine. In those days, there were no emergency, quick release on that type of machine. Since it was powered by steam, it could also not be stopped suddenly. A young boy on his way to school was hailed down by the laundry supervisor on duty and told to run two blocks to a machine shoe and bring back a machinist in a hurry. In the meantime, our poor Mother’s hand was being crushed and badly burned in the ironing machine.
The pain, horror and tragedy is hard enough to imagine…but trying to relate to those circumstances, and their effect upon the soul, mind and heart of a 16-year old girl that had happily fallen in love and just lived through a whirlwind courtship…can only leave one heart-broken when you consider the magnitude of the painful torture rendered by the hot and consuming mangler ironer…AND the subsequent amputation and loss of her right hand.
She, aside from being gravely injured and falling into a horrible shock, fell into a deep grief and depression for months following the accident. Her faithful and devoted companion, frequent care-taker, constant suitor and, sometimes, nursemaid following the horrible accident…was her new beau, immediate fiancé (because he proposed marriage immediately after, promising he’d take care of her for life) and future husband and father of her six children…our Dad, Hubert Lindsey.
Hubert and LaVerne were later married, at Pittsburg (Cass County), Texas on June 6, 1936. They were later sealed together as husband and wife in the Oakland Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, on February 6, 1965. All of their children were sealed to them in the same Temple; the five youngest, later that day…with David Michael sealed to them in 1988 (following both Hubert’s and David Michael’s premature deaths).
The author of this story is Steven Edward Lindsey, the oldest child BORN to the union of Hubert Hefley Lindsey and Dorothy LaVerne Miller. I am writing this account from my new home in Granada, Nicaragua. I do not have access to my “Lindsey books” or my “Book of Remembrance”, as I have not moved them here yet. The dates of my parents’ meeting, courtship and the tragic work-accident suffered by our Mother are approximate…but based on my best recollection. I apologize to Aunts Sadie and Blanche, including their families, if I am incorrect or “vague” about their involvement. It has been a long time since I heard the story from my Aunt Myrtle Hamberlin (although, I heard it several times). I never brought this subject up with my Mother, unless SHE instigated the conversation, because it was a painful experience for her, emotionally AND physically, ALL of her ensuing life. I remember hearing Elder LaGrande Richards (when he served as an Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) presenting a sermon on the glories of the Resurrection at a stake conference at the Inter-State Center on the grounds of the Oakland Temple, sometime in the early 60’s. My Mother leaned over to me and told me that she was anxious and excited to experience the resurrection…because her body would be made perfect and she would have her hand restored. All six of my Mother’s children are left handed (even though some of us may be right-hand dominant). Our family doctors (Drs. Chester Green and Riley Green) in Oakland, California; both surmised that we LEARNED to be left-handed because our Mom could not teach us any early tasks…such as eating, coloring, writing, using scissor, et cetera…with her missing right hand. When together, we sometimes chuckle (with fond reflection and memory) of all the things we did that mimicked her behaviors…like using a wax paper or tin foil box to hold a hand of cards to play Hearts or Canasta. Of course, we could hold our “card hand” with one of our hands and play our cards with the other hand. Instead, we all insisted that we use boxes of waxed paper or aluminum foil to insert our cards in upright and face toward us…just as she would HAVE to do when she played. We grew up just believing that was the way we were supposed to do it…along with a number of our cousins that lived close by to our home. This account is told to the best of my memory and recollection. I’m sorry I didn’t’ record this story, and so many others, closer to the proximity of the events or the original telling of these stories by my parents, aunts and uncles. Families are forever.