The Day Erle W. met M.M…..

The Day Erle Met Mary Margaret… Digital Painting February 2014The story of my grandparents meeting:

My tribute for the moment that they met

My tribute for the moment that they met

On a sunny day in the 1930’s, in Lemont Oklahoma, the downtown was the very embodiment of a vibrant small farming town.  The Adams General Store was on the main street through the town and its owner, Robert Erle Adams, was inside tending to his family namesake’s business and asked his son, Erle W. to sweep the sidewalk outside  Stepping out into the sun, Erle did his job as two young ladies happened to walk by, one of who paid little attention to the young man but the other did.  The sisters, Nell and Mary Margaret Santee were spending the day in the town when they passed the general store when the older sister, Nell, turned back over her shoulder and said to her younger sister, Mary Margaret, that there was a handsome man behind them.         Out of chance, Mary Margaret turned back and saw the man that would be her husband of over sixty-five years.

 

Gold Fish and Lucky Charms

Sedona turned nine last week and had a big party to celebrate.  Bringing over a bunch of friends she had a wonderful time.  Not wanting to miss a beat as the uncle that usually wins with gifts, I found a hat for Sedona, who has a fledgling interest in style and fashion; as well as as the uncle that wears hats, I wanted to share it with the closest thing I have a child of my own and give my niece a pink hat.  With the hat, I was able to introduce her to a charm bracelet that got a over-all response of “Me Lucky Charms.”

            All gifts were blown away when her Grandmother bought two goldfish to go with Sedona’s two mice and a cat.  Give it a year and Sedona will have zoo worth of animals and a ferret will greet you at the door.

Sedona has holes put in her head

Sedona, my niece on her ninth birthday had her ears pierced.  Being her uncle, I had to ask why she wanted head surgery and have holes put in her head?   She was not nervous or scared and made her uncle proud.

The Sleeping Tractor

As told by Erle W. Adams (December, 2009)

twincity2While working on his Aunt and Uncle’s farm (possibly Alva Adams), young Erle Adams was asked to work the night shift at his aunt’s farms.  The uncle did the daily shift of plowing the fields and he left the night plowing to hired hands.  During the depression and the rural area that Erle Adams grew up in, jobs were scarce and you did help the family when you could.  It has been suggested that the seasonal and daily clock of the rooster ran farm life did not always agree with Erle as he intimated in a statement from his aunt.

The task at hand for pulling the plow with the tractor was an easy enough job, just time consuming.  You lined you tractor wheel up in the tread of your previous route and drove in a circle outward until the field was plowed.  Lights were placed on the roof of the tractor so one could see ahead as well as turn the lights to look about as you drove.

The work of his day job at his father’s Adams General Store as well as schoolwork took its toll on Erle W. as he dozed off in front of the wheel.

imagesWhen Erle awoke the following mourning, he suddenly realized his mistake and looked behind him at the field.  A zigzag path had been plowed through the field that would of made any alien crop circle creators jealous.  As fast as he could, Erle plowed away at the field in a not so careful design or path to cover his tracks of his sleeping tractor.

052_crop

George Washington Santee and Mary Bell (Higginbotham) Santee

George Washington Santee and Mary Bell (Higginbotham) Santee

by Tim Benjamin and input by family members

George Washington Santee attended school and graduated with a degree as an educator.   He was a teacher, principle and later the superintendent of Nash county Enid Oklahoma.

Marriage and family

George Washington Santee and Mary Bell (Higginbotham) Santee

George Washington Santee and Mary Bell (Higginbotham) Santee

George Washington meet and married his wife Mary Bell Higginbotham.  For money reasons the couple did live in Kansas for a brief period.  Their children were Mary Margaret (adams)Santee (m. Erle W. Adams), Harold Santee, John Wesly Santee (m. Flossy), George Winston Santee and Nelly Elizabeth (Lee, Barber) Santee (m. Keith Barber, m. Harold Lee).

Mary Margaret (Santee) Adams (November 7, 1920 – October 3, 2009)

by Tim Benjamin

Mary Margaret (Santee) Adams

Mary Margaret (Santee) Adams

Through out my entire life I had only one grandmother and that caring spirit was Mary Margaret Adams who always greeted me with a hug and a smile.  When we would speak, my grandmother would happily pat my hand in love and the whole world was full of magic and peace.

Mary Margaret Santee was born in the fall and died in the fall.  She loved the weather of autumn, the birds that would sing and the colors of nature that came with this time of the year.  On November 7, 1920, the superintendent of Nash county Enid Oklahoma, George Washington and his wife Mary Bell Higginbotham celebrated the birth of their daughter Mary Margaret Santee.

Erle Wilbert Adams (Senior year)

Erle Wilbert Adams (Senior year)

Growing up in a small town, Mary Margaret had a slight problem in school in that her father was the superintendent that led to few altercations with misbehavior. Mary Margaret was considered quite the catch by the local males of her community and was named homecoming queen in her junior year of high school.  Mary Margaret and her older sister by eleven years, Nell Santee did help each other as much as possible.  In fact, walking the sidewalks in the town side of Enid, the two sisters noticed a young good-looking man sweeping a porch area outside the Adams general store.  Older sister Nell pointed the young man out as a fine looking catch to younger sister Mary Margaret.

M.M. Adams

M.M. Adams

Later Mary Margaret was properly introduced to the young general store shop boy who revealed his name as Erle W. Adams.  After a few successful dates young Erle went off to College A.N.M. an Agricultural college that later changed its name to O.S.U. one the biggest state Universities in the country.  While attending A.N.M., Erle had begun to realize that his thought were of no one other than Mary Margaret Santee and decided that on March 8, 1942 in Stillwater Oklahoma, he would marry Mary Margaret.  This marriage lasted sixty-seven years.

1st Colonel Erle W. Adams

1st Colonel Erle W. Adams

During the war, the married couple traveled with Erle W’s stationing as a instructing and training men for combat.  However, when they did settle down in Tulsa Oklahoma by buying a home with a loan of two thousand dollars, the young couple was able to purchase a home for seven thousand dollars.  This home of theirs is the one the live in for sixty-seven loving years.

In 1944 when the war had settled down and the world seemed less dangerous, Mary Margaret and Erle W. Adams had their first son Michael Kent Adams at Wesling

M.M. & E.W. Adams at their home

M.M. & E.W. Adams at their home

Hospital, Wshita Kansas.  To equal out the equation the new parents had a second child in December 8, 1946, Mary Lynne Adams. At St. Johns Hospital in Tulsa Oklahoma.  The young family spent many car trips visiting aunts, uncles, cousins and grand parents on holidays and special occasions.  Family was important to Mary Margaret and she stressed this to her children to be kind and in touch with your family.  Having both Mary Margaret’s parents and Erle W.’s parents alive meant a headache when it came to holidays like Christmas when you did swap years for who you wanted to visit.  Then you drove to one parent’s home in the mourning and then drove to other parents’ home in the afternoon.

After the war, Mary Margaret began her long association with T.U. as a secretary to the Economics department and gained great esteem and respect in her work.  Her husband had a very prestigious career with Flint Steal where he works dutifully for his family.  Mary Margaret was a fantastic cook and was a superb hostess.  Always dressed up for occasions and had a magnificent figure to show.   Money was tight in the family and having two adults who grew up in the depression, saving as much money as possible was foremost important to their

way of life.

Mary Lynne and Ann on the 57 Chevy

Mary Lynne and Ann on the 57 Chevy

On the eleventh Birthday of daughter Mary Lynne, her mother Mary Margaret had some surprising news for her.  It was not a present but an unexpected baby sister.  There had been some surgical work done to Mary Margaret in the moment in time.  Despite the medical miracle of Mary Margaret and Erle W’s third child, Ann Merdeth Adams was born in Hillsent Hospital in Tulsa Oklahoma on August 10, 1957.

She donated to many animals, environmental and Democratic charities and graduated from Tulsa University enjoying a career at the TU Economics Department.  The president of TU hand wrote a letter to my Grandfather, Erle, of condolences on her passing.  In their home hanging next to a charcoal portrait of my Grandfather is a letter from candidate Barrack Obama thanking her for her contributions.

Ann and Mary Lynne

Ann and Mary Lynne

The first grandchild to Erle W. Adams and Mary Margaret was Michael Todd Adams born on August 13, 1966 to Michael Adams and his wife Diane Marie (Box) Adams.  Later Grandchildren were Jeffery John Benjamin born on April 29th, 1976 and later than that was Timothy John Erle Benjamin both to parents Mary Lynne Adams and Michael John Benjamin.  Youngest daughter Ann and husband Bob Lewis had the only granddaughter on July 23, 1985 and the last grandson was not born until 1990 when Adam Keith Adams was born.

E.W. & M.M. in France

E.W. & M.M. in France

Retirement seemed a natural for Erle and Mary Margaret as they bought a small camper than later a larger camper trailer that they traveled all over the United States as they embarked on their dreams of seeing the county side.  Occasionally taking their grand kids around with them and for a while their home of 566 was a staple of summer vacations for the grandchildren.

Family was important to Mary Margaret as she took care of her brother suffered from shell shock from WWII and took care of her older sister Nell after the death of Nell’s second husband Harold.

The Burial of Mary Margaret

The Burial of Mary Margaret

Attending her funeral was her three children and their families as well as   Friends of the family and honored guests.  She was laid to rest near her grandson Michael Todd Adams who died the previous year.

The pallbearers were mainly the grand children of Mary Margaret.  Grandchildren were Michael Todd (in honor), grandsons Tim Benjamin, Adam Lewis and his sister Jessica Lewis.  Grandson Jeff Benjamin was not in attendance due to his obligations to his three children.  Mary Margaret’s daughter Mary Lynne’s son Jeff had the only great-grandchildren in Mary Margaret’s lifetime and they were three girls.  These great-grandchildren are the following: Vivian Ashley, born in 2000 in Hawaii, Sedona Nell born in 2002 in Oregon and Hannah Ann in 2007 in California.

Son Mike and Nephew Spence "Lawrence" Adams

Son Mike and Nephew Spence "Lawrence" Adams

All her children were important to Mary Margaret and all those that were related to her took equal importance and caring.  When the siblings of Mary Margaret and Erle W. passed away it was the nephews and nieces and children of fallen neighbors and friends from the generation of Mary Margaret and Erle W. that gravitated to these two parental figures in a need for advise and caring.

Mary Margaret’s caring for music was apparent in her love of bird songs and the small creatures that lived in their yards.  Always wanting to pet an animal, Mary Margaret always said cautiously as she would place a hand on a head of a cat or dog that she was only going to try and be friendly.  All animals would have liked this spirit that was Mary Margaret if she would only believe it herself.

Her brother played many musical instruments and had the craft for the musical talent where Mary Margaret had an ear for all music.  Always watching live musical productions on television and always playing music from all sorts on the wireless.  Her collection of many musical genre’s included: flute, classical, country, Elvis, big band and even a little rock and roll.

Mary Lynne and sons Jeff and Tim in the 57 Chevy

Mary Lynne and sons Jeff and Tim in the 57 Chevy

Her grandson Jeff played the guitar and piano and would perform the latest Van Halen song for her and Mary Margaret would sit, close her eyes and tap her foot in enjoyment.  Her other grandson Tim would put Cd mixes together of all the ends of the music canvas from hard rock to polka, from soul to alternative and Mary Margaret would sit and listen to them all in great enjoyment.

My only regret as Tim the music man was that only in her later years, Mary Margaret was introduced to Enya late.  I would have liked to give her the entire collection by Enya.

Like her sister, Nell, Mary Margaret was a patron of the arts and fully promoted her grandson Tim the artist in his endeavors.

6982752_10062009At the viewing of the funeral of Mary Margaret Adams, my grandmother, I walked up to the casket and wanted to thank her for all her love, help, understanding, encouragement and shared love of music, however when the time came and I looked upon the face of the one and only grandmother I had all my life and very essence of what a grandmother should have be like, I was unable to speak.  Planning on saying only anything to my self as I gazed upon her for the last time, I only managed a few jumbled thoughts with words like “Thank you,” “Miss You,” “Music,” and “Good bye.”  With all that I could muster in notions of verbal thought scattered and used, I patted her hand lightly as a final good bye and the magic had gone.

Robert Erle Man of Many Talents

Robert Erle and Stella Marie Adams

Robert Erle and Stella Marie Adams

An amateur actor, mailman, sandwich maker in a bar run by his father and a general store owner, my great-grandfather, Robert Erle Adams was a force of nature.  His father owned a pool hall that served sandwiches that were eventually made by the young Robert Erle.  In the twenties, Robert Erle’s pool hall did or did not serve alcohol, as it was the prohibition.

While in the pool hall, whenever Robert was asked to make a sandwich he would cross the street to the grocery store to get the ingredients and in time he developed an idea of going into the grocery store business store himself.  When my grand father Erle Wilbert Adams was two, his father Robert opened the Adams store in Nash County Lemont Oklahoma and thus continued on as a pillar of the community.  Robert

The Adams Family

The Adams Family

Erle delivered mail in a model T Ford in the rural area of Lemont.  His two aunts and an uncle lived on a farm in which Robert Erle delivered to.  In his youth, Robert Erle would work on his relative’s farms and whenever it rained in the area his aunt would say, “Well it is good for the wheat.”  However a cabin fevered Robert Erle would say to his aunt that it might be good for the wheat but is not good for him.

While working behind the counter of the Adams

The Adams Store

The Adams Store

store, Robert Erle would sell candy, bread, pop and do all that is expected of a general store including carve meat in the back room.  Gypsies would travel through the town and would have a tendency to take items without paying.  Wearing aprons these gypsies would simply walk into the Adams store and put items in their aprons as they browsed then buy something small and inexpensive.  Wearing a butcher’s apron, Robert Erle watched these strangers from the back of the store as he chopped meat.  Not wanting to get his long black hair in the way he would tie it back and resemble his Cherokee background.  His apron would be covered in a bit of blood from the meat Robert was cutting and would walk out looking like a head hunting Cherokee worrier and coolly said to the gypsies, “You can either pay for what is in your aprons or leave now.”  They left in a hurry.

In the Adams store there was a couple rows of theatre seats at one side.  This was an aspect of Robert Erle showing itself that later came out as he wanting to be an actor.  The town had a few amateur plays in the theatres and wanted actors and Robert Erle was all too willing to addition.  Getting the parts in various plays and in much subject matter, Robert was actually considered quite good at what he did.  The only evendence of him being a descent actor was that he kept being called back.  Acting aside, Robert had a tendenciy to only dress in shaggy pants, shirt and hold a cane.  No matter what the play was about, Robert would stagger out on stage and act as an old man.

In the end, Robert Erle was a man greater then any words could describe.