Bernice Parks Beaver – Wife of Edwin Clay Beaver

I am glad to be able to add my little contribution to the Beaver Book, from an in-law’s vantage point. I was born Novem ber 8, 1909, at a ranch home near Mount Home, Texas. Shortly after I was born, my parents, T.J. and Mary Avant Parks moved to Mount Home to operate a Post Office, rooming house, and overnight stay for the stage coach which had the mid-way stopover from Kerrville to Junction, Texas. Several interesting characters rode this stage coach. I had an older sister, Vida and a younger brother, Hal. Since this was ranching country, neighbors were few and far between. Our little school house served as a church building, too, and was called Sunset School.

This truly little ignorant country girl knew nothing of the evils of the big city, and had a real eye-opener when she went away to college in 1927. After three years in college, the depression of the early thirties hit; so I quit school to go to work. I applied for a teaching job at Girard, Texas and was accepted. I taught third and fourth grades in my first school teaching year, 1932-1933.

One of my students was Merle Beaver, the son of Clay Beaver. Merle’s mother was deceased, and Clay operated a grocery store in Girard. He and Merle lived with Clay’s parents, Ed and Minnie Beaver and two of their daughters who were still at home. I met Clay, first at his store, and had been told, “Here’s the man who dates all the school teachers.” I said to myself, “Here’s one school teacher that he won’t be dating.” He did ask me for a date two or three times, but I refused, for fear there might be some gossip that Merle was the teacher’s pet, or that I might show partiality to him.

By the summer of 1933 and through the school year of 1934, I weakened because I had learned to know the Beaver family, their religious devotion and their love of singing gospel music. Singing conventions were the most important social events in the community, and in these singings the Beaver family always played ‘an important part.

On September 1, 1935, Clay and I were married in Jayton, Texas. Clay had been out of the grocery business for a year or more, working on a State job. He worked for the Surplus Food Program and I worked as office helper all summer. We were married on a Saturday night and returned to the office on Monday.

My first blunder occurred when the delivery man for the Texas Spur newspaper came to collect. He remarked, “You don’t look like a married woman.” My reply was, “Oh, it just isn’t showing on me yet.” I couldn’t understand the strange expression on his face until Clay explained it to me later.

The food program ceased in Jayton soon after our marriage and Clay was transferred to Post, then to Lamesa, to the State Employment Office. Times were truly hard, the depression was real. In order to help some on finances, we rented two rooms from Mr. and Mrs. Collum, an elderly couple who operated a farm about two miles from the city limits. At one time they had been very wealthy as he had some oil holdings, but the farm was all they had left from their once luxurious living. They took a deep interest in us and treated us like their children. Merle worked for them one summer on the farm and he really endeared himself to them. Soon we were sharing the living room and dining room, and she helped me prepare meals when we had guests. Each of us had a kerosene cook stove, and a water cooler in the hall to keep milk and butter cool.

As soon as the Collums learned that I was pregnant, the pampering began. I could get Clay and Merle’s breakfast and get them off to work and school, but by then I was so nauseated that I couldn’t eat. As soon as Mrs. Collum learned of that, she had me stay in bed until she had those hot buttered biscuits ready and then called me for breakfast. Her home-made jams, sausages, jellies, etc., were truly luscious. But in early 1937, Clay was transferred to Abilene. The Collums stood in the yard crying as we drove away. We made a solemn promise that we would call them as soon as the baby arrived. Sure enougn, on March 15, 1937, Gail Parks Beaver was born. My mother came to stay with me, and on the day after Gail’s birth, the Collums came.

We bought a house at 513 Vine Street in April of 1937. It was near Abilene High School where Merle enrolled and soon be came interested in sports. It should be noted that after we settled in our house, we learned that we could own our first electric refrigerator ( 35 down and 35 a month). This was truly luxury. Clay’s job terminated after three years, and he took a job in Big Spring, operating a grocery store at night. During the few short months that this job lasted, I stayed in Abilene to keep Merle m school. Soon Clay was offered a job back with the State Employment Office, but it was in Borger, Texas. We sold our home that spring and moved. The Abilene school wanted Merle to stay to play ball so much that they agreed to pay his room and board if we would let him stay. Some long time friends we had known at Girard, the Cliff Haines family, agreed to keep him through the season. That summer Merle joined us in Borger where he finished high school in 19^1. He began work for Phillips Petroleum Company that sum mer. World War II was in progress, and knowing that it was only a matter of time before he would be called, he enlisted in the Coast Guard. After basic training, he served primarily in the Pacific area and we didn’t get to see Merle for three years.

Soon after Merle left, the Borger office of the Employment Service closed, and Clay was transferred to Amarillo. Neither of us liked Amarillo. Clay’s brother, Hub, insisted that Clay quit the Employment Service and come out to operate a cotton gin, like he was doing. In the spring of 1942, we moved to a community called “Farmer”, just north of Ralls, Texas, where we were furnished a house end a gin office, We lived there two ginning seasons and Gail started to school here. Dennis was born in Ralls January 26, 1944 – a big, husky nine pounder.

Clay was offered a job back with the Employment Service at Brownwood, Texas. We lived there a year when he was offered the Manager’s job in the office at Stamford. A year later, our last son, Olin Hal, was born September 10, 1945. Merle now had two little brothers whom he had never seen. He was discharged from the service in February of 19^6, and joined us in Stamford where he would sit for hours holding his little brothers.

Merle worked for a month or so in Stamford, but he learned that if he returned to his former job with Phillips Petroleum within three months of his discharge, his seniority with the company would include his service time. He reluctantly returned to Borger, leaving behind a school teacher he had met at cnurch, and in whom he seemed to have some devout interest. They were married September 22, 19^6, Geraldyne Stephenson Beaver.

We moved to Abilene in 1948, and this was our last move. The three boys all finished high school and went to Abilene Christian University. Dennis and Olin received degrees from ACU, but Gail went to work for a seismograph group after three years of college.

Grandpa Mikiel E. Beaver died at our house November 23, 1949. Granny lived with different ones of the children until her death, February 20, 1957, at Jane’s home in Lubbock.

Many, many blessings have come my way, and I can truly say all my boys are among those blessings. It was up to Clay and me to continue the Beaver name. After us, only Dennis carried the direct line named Beaver. Merle has one adopted son, Olin has two stepsons, and Gail has no children.

Clay had been an elder in the church for many years. He died with cancer November 28, 1959. After his death, I had part time work for three years. Then I went to work full time for the State Welfare Department, and worked until I retired.

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