Pt 27: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron and Dad Floyd Spencer
“One I love with all my heart,
Mother, dear, it’s you;
And I want to make you glad;
Yes, indeed, I do!
I will help you every day,
Smiling as I go,
And I’ll never make you sad
Because I love you so.”
We left off in “Part 26: More Memories of My Mom Esther LeBaron Spencer” with me questioning my mom about her early years. As I continued to query Mommy about her life and how she met and married Poppy, she moaned: “I NEVER wanted to leave my family and Old Mexico. But yer pa wasn’t allowed to make a livin’ in Mexico, being a US citizen. By marryin’ him, I was forced to live in “The States” … far from my family for thirteen years!!
“I was always homesick for my family in Mexico. Yer pa knew this so his favorite song was, ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.’ (See: https://youtu.be/TEHnzFC7M9A ) He would tear up when I played it for him on the piano … or sang it to him while accompanyin’ myself on the guitar.”
Dad kept his word to Mum. Soon as he turned sixty-five and could retire with full Social Security and Veterans Pension benefits, he moved Mum back to Mexico. We eleven kids went along for the ride!
One more stowaway sneaked along too … hidden in Mum’s belly! Well, everyone knows it’s cheaper by the dozen. At least that’s what Mumma always told everyone. US dollars went further especially back then– if you lived in Old Mexico as opposed to the United States.
So in August of 1960, my family returned to Old Mexico to settle in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua on their homestead my grandfather and grandmother had continued to build and enlarge upon on land Dad bought in 1944. Dad and Mum turned their “parcela“ over to my grandparents Dayer and Maud LeBaron in 1947 when they decided to take their budding family and move back to the US.
Grandpa Dayer and Grandma Maud could never afford to move out of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. But once Dad married Mum (secretly) on Feb. 17, 1944 as a plural wife,* he’d had to “Get the hell out of Dodge:” ** Moving to old Mexico to live near my mother’s family was the perfect “get away” hideout for my parents for about three years — just long enough for me and my older sister to be born in Chihuahua, Mexico.
My parents’ days living in Old Mexico ended in early 1947 when Daddy was involved in a devastating near-death incident: While working to repair a flour mill in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, his leg accidentally slipped, fell into the mill’s grain grinder, and was badly chewed up before he could regain balance. Being a veteran of World War I, Father was taken to the Veterans’ hospital in El Paso, Texas where he remained for nearly three months while doctors and nurses struggled day and night to save and repair his leg so he could walk again.
Their dedicated efforts and peoples’ prayers paid off. Daddy’s leg was not only saved but he was able to walk on it. However, the immense amount of scar tissue in the damaged leg was to hurt him for the rest of his life — or the next 18 years. Poor Daddy!
This excruciating pain didn’t slow down the industrious hard worker that he was. But I’m sure it added to his temper already compromised by aging, physical pain from his bad back, arthritic pains, and post-traumatic-stress issues brought on by his World War I Army Service. Add to that his emotional pain that included loss of his first wife Eva and their 11 children, and my mumma’s poor housekeeping and cooking, and you’ve got a walking volcano that could errupt at any moment!
Nonetheless, this stalwart, dedicated, religious man, my papa, never gave up for a moment! He hung in there, holding fast to his beliefs and values till the end when, on April 18, 1965, a heart attack took him precipitated by an incident in late 1964 some like to call a “work accident.” (More on that in my upcoming book.)
Continued November 9, 2018: “Pt 28: My Ma ‘n Pa, Esther LeBaron and Floyd Spencer”
*They were married by the Mormon fundamentalist leader Joseph W. Musser. This was kept a great secret: Polygamy was illegal and so was Musser’s performing such marriages. (See: Joseph White Musser: Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_White_Musser)
** Daddy told me he had to flee with Mama to live in old Mexico because his first wife Eva, a mainstream Mormon, had created a huge public stink and gotten him in trouble with the law and LDS church for taking a plural wife and becoming a Mormon fundamentalist. Can you blame her? (See my previous writings on this in blogs about my father and Mother.)
So, in 1944 Daddy sold in a hurry — at a loss — his belongings in Arizona and bought cheap land — a parcela — in Chihuahua, Mexico, not far from Colonia Juarez where Mama grew up. But he had to work in the United States to earn a living. It was illegal for Americans to earn a wage in Mexico — part of Mexico’s efforts not to lose more of their land to the USA — as they had in the war of 1846. Mexican–American War – Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican–American_War)