I’ve been working on a family history project, scanning photos, letters and postcards that we found in the basement of my grandmother’s house.
Most recently, I discovered a bundle of postcards and letters my grandmother, Celia Fulkerson, sent home to her parents in 1946 while on a trip from Missouri to Texas with her friend Dorothy Hogg and my grandfather, Grimes Spillman, whom she would marry two years later. I had letters Grandma sent to her parents from De Queen, Ark., and Houston; a postcard she sent to her brother from Lufkin, Texas, another sent to her parents from Houston; and the ticket from her flight home (only $41.11!).
I knew a few things from the letters, but didn’t know why they were taking the trip. Granddad filled in me on that tonight:
Celia and I were married on Dec. 13th 1948. The Texas trip was in 1946. I was in the Merchant Marines and was not assigned duty like the other services. I could go to any port and sign on to a ship. I always chose to sail tankers and saw a lot of the world. The â€œRussellâ€ mentioned was Russell Bate a high school friend of mine. We joined together. Russell now lives in Chillicothe, Mo. I shipped from Long Beach CA. and New York City but usually from Houston or Galveston Texas. One day I was sitting in a shipping center in Galveston waiting for a ship to be posted that I thought I would like and looked across the room and there sat Calvin Porter from Trenton who I had met in Mo. a few times. We sailed together that trip to Casa Blanca North Africa and became hard and fast friends. Once Calvin, Russell and I all went to New York together to ship out but Russell and I shipped out on different ships and Calvin joined the Paratroopers.
The trip to Texas was when I was going back to ship out. I Bought a Mercury Convertible (I think a 1941 ) to drive to Texas with the intention of selling it there. Celia and her good friend â€œDorothy Hoggâ€ (Dot) went along and flew back. I traded the Mercury for a motorcycle and stored the motorcycle until I returned from the trip. Then brought the motorcycle back to Missouri. That trip was a load of Naphtha to Bremerhaven Germany.
Family trivia: Granddad has more names than I can keep up with. His kids never called my him “Dad.” Grandma always called him “Honey,” and my mother, the oldest of three, started calling him Honeyboy — because, well, he was a boy called Honey. It stuck. For years, I thought that was his name. My brother, sister and I have always called him Granddad — Grandpa was my father’s father, although he died in 1982. Granddad’s full name: Woodford Grimes Spillman. He’s gone by his middle name (his mother’s maiden name) since he was a baby; in the past few years he started going by Woody.