The Grass is Always Greener,
Down the Road Apiece
Nineteen twenty-one was the year Warren G. Harding became our 29th President, Britain and Ireland signed a peace treaty, and Graham McNamee made the first radio broadcast of a baseball game. It was that year population in the United States reached 107 million, the Unknown Soldier was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, the Ku Klux Klan was active throughout the South, and Grandpa Hayworth came back to Longton for a new business venture.
The following appeared in the November 25, 1921, edition of the LONGTON NEWS:
"Chas. E. Hayworth, o f Woodward, Okla., and a former citizen of Longton in the early days, is here to help us build up the town. At present he is erecting a large Theatre building on east Main. Dimensions 33 by 85 ft. This, according to the plans, will be a beautiful building completed."
Grandpa Hayworth, being a fine musician, always seemed to be interested in some form of the entertainment business.
Goldie took seriously her position as oldest child. She not only was always ready to fight the battles of her younger sister and brothers at school, but was ready to mother and direct them at home. This latter was not always enthusiastically received by those being mothered and. directed.
Mom later recalled an incident that occurred when Goldie was about twelve or thirteen and Clifford eight or nine. Mom was outside attending to some chore and Goldie was inside cleaning house. Suddenly Clifford bolted out the door with Goldie close behind. He had done something she objected to. Goldie picked up my little red rocking chair which was sitting beside the door and threw it at the fleeing Clifford. The chair hit him just behind his left ear, and blood spurted from the resulting wound. It took a little while to stop the bleeding.
We don’t know whether either of them felt remorse for his or her actions. We do know that for many years Clifford had a lump behind his ear from that rocking chair, but it eventually disappeared.
The year was 1922. Gandhi was sentenced to a six year term in prison. Mussolini formed a Fascist government, the Irish Free State was officially proclaimed, Soviet states formed the U.S.S.R., and Harold Lloyd became famous in moving picture theaters. That same year Irving Berlin wrote the song "April Showers," insulin was first administered to diabetic patients, the stock market "boom" began, U.S. government revenues were 4,919 million and expenditures were 4,068 million...and Grandpa Hayworth opened his theater.
On February 10, 1922, the LONGTON NEWS again printed an article about Grandpa's new venture on page one:
"NEW THEATRE OPENS WITH DANCE
The new Theatre opened last Thursday night by giving a big dance. It has a floor especially built for dancing. This Theatre is one of the finest in this part of the state. Mr. Chas. Haworth is the builder, and Charley Troxell drew the plans and superintended the construction.
This week, an expert painter is here designing and painting curtain scenery. If you come to the show Saturday night, Feb. 11th, you may get a peep-in at the new curtain; but we are sure you will see Charley Chaplin in 'The Kid.' A new picture machine has been installed and you will be greeted with some fine screen work, if you are present Saturday night.
This theatre has a large seating capacity, with both first floor and balcony. A large dome gives a large space for clear view of the stage, which is well equipped with fine scenery. This theatre is one that most any troop can put on most any play with credit. Longton is fortunate in having a theatre such (as) has been built by Chas. Hayworth; one that we can invite people from anywhere to visit."
The new building had movable chairs so that it could be used for moving pictures and plays, or, with the seats removed, the floor was available for dancing. Wherever Grandpa went he seemed to become the nucleus of an instrumental group, and this newest enterprise was a setting for his musical talents. In the early days of silent pictures, live musicians furnished mood music for the story unfolding on the screen, and Grandpa, at least part of the time, must have served in this capacity on the evenings when the theater showed films.
Grandpa' s new building was also used for live theater, as an article in the March 10, 1922, edition of the LONGTON NEWS states:
This week Longton has been entertained by the Electric Theatre management and the Glenn Cunningham Comedy Players. In fact it was an introduction of the new theatre building to the public.
The visiting players are a bunch of good vaudeville entertainers, pleasant and courteous ladies and gentlemen. The 'Four Harmony Scamps,' whose personnel are Bert Olcott, Lloyd Colyer, Clarke Moss and Jim Moss, as a quartette give some good vocal music, and the comedy interspersed by Lloyd Colyer always brings a hearty laugh.
The visitors gave Mr. Hayworth well deserved praise for his consideration of the actor's comfort by furnishing such pleasant dressing and makeup rooms.
The company is giving a show worth the price of admission; attend the balance of the week and find ample proof of this assertion."
Flossie remembers when she and Goldie were at Grandpa's theater one evening while a dance was in progress. Flossie was about twelve at the time and Goldie was a little past fourteen. Goldie, to the casual observer, was a very pretty young lady, as was proven by the fact that several young men asked her to dance. She, however, was not feeling so grown-up, and Flossie remembers that Goldie suddenly seemed uncharacteristically shy and turned down all of her would-be swains.
Although Bub was a quiet and good-natured child, like Mom he could get his back up when pushed too far. Clifford recalls a time when Bub was about eight years old. There had been a strong rain, and the Kansas dirt had been turned into Kansas mud. Bub had borrowed Mom's rubber boots, which were his size, and was having fun slopping around in the wet, sticky muck.
Dad, taking advantage of the situation, kept sending Bub on errands for different things, since, after all, Bub already had the boots on. Bub went willingly at first, but after about an hour of fetching and carrying, he became a little disgruntled. Finally there was one errand too many.
"I'm gonna go back to the house and take these damn boots off if I have to do all the work around here!" and he stomped off.
In 1923 the Teapot Dome oil scandal tarnished Harding's administration, President Harding died in office and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. played in the film "Robin Hood," George Gershwin composed "Rhapsody In Blue," popular songs were "Yes, We Have No Bananas," and "Tea For Two," and TIME magazine was founded.
It was this year Dad and his brother Dale moved from Augusta to Madison, following yet another oil boom. Dad and Uncle Dale had gone ahead and found a three-acre piece of land on Standpipe Hill. The town was down below the hill.
They first fenced in the entire plot, and then built a small shack for Uncle Dale and Aunt Nellie in amongst a small grove of trees, the only trees on the whole lot. After that they built sheds for the horses.
With all this accomplished Dad returned to Augusta for his wife and children. There were six of us now, ages fifteen down to three.
Grandad helped Dad get a shack in Augusta, which he loaded on his wagon, along with all their possessions. With Bess and Queen plus Dale's team pulling the wagon, they traveled to Madison, a distance of between sixty-five and seventy miles, camping out along the way. It was a pleasant adventure for us children—long lazy days and constantly changing scenery. Flossie has a nostalgic memory of that trip; it is of the smell of bacon frying over a campfire in the early morning. After a three- or four-day trip they arrived in Madison and set the shack down. Their home was ready for them.
Flossie remembers sleeping with Goldie in a roughly built bunk bed in one corner of the shack. A little later a lean-to was built on the side, and this was where the boys slept. She also recalls they had only a dirt floor, and that the horses were allowed to run free within the fenced lot.
Their place was about the equivalent of two city blocks south of the top of Standpipe Hill. They were not close to any other houses, and Flossie remembers, on rainy days, walking to school in the heavy Kansas mud.
Uncle Dale and Aunt Nellie had one child just a little older than Mary, Dale, Jr., whom they called Buster, later shortened to Bus. They didn't stay in their little shack very long. Nellie didn’t like it. It was too small, it was too isolated, and the ground was spongy. Perhaps Dale was more sensitive to her complaints than Dad was to Mom's and his daughters', but Aunt Nellie was an outspoken sort of person, and thus much more verbal about her grievances than Mom would have been. At his wife's insistence Uncle Dale moved his family to a small rented house down below the hill where there were sidewalks and the neighbors she desired.
Often Dad and Dale were gone for several days at a time on hauling jobs. Mom managed to adjust to this very well, but Aunt Nellie was afraid to stay alone at night. When this happened Flossie was elected to stay with Nellie. Flossie usually enjoyed the time spent there, and it was at Aunt Nellie's house she became friends with a girl who was partially responsible for Flossie's haircut the next year. But that's another story.
Charlie Cummins and his family also lived on Standpipe Hill. His second son, John Everett, and Goldie met this year, thus beginning a romance that was to last more than 65 years.
My first early childhood memory is of this house as well. I was about three years old, and Mary and I had been playing on a swing. I must have been over-tired and ready for a nap, as I started screaming when Mary wouldn't let me have a turn on the swing. Mom came outside, picked me up, spanked me, and took me back to the house. She was doing the weekly wash, and I fell asleep on the floor with my head cushioned on one of the piles of dirty clothes. I woke up just in time to see Dad return in the Model T, with Mary sitting gaily in the back seat waving at me.
"Ha, ha, I got to go with Dad and you didn't!"
Sometimes life just wasn't fair.