Stories and Memoirs of
Petronella "Nell" Buck Arledge
of Chilton and Lubbock, Texas

Nell Arledge, born Petronella Buck in 1925 in Waxahachie, Ellis Co, TX to Joseph Keyworth Buck & Winnie Perry Shiplet, served in the US Cadet Nurses Corps during WWII. On October 22, 1946, she married Tommie Arledge in Los Angeles, CA. Tommie, the son of Isaac W. "Ike" Arledge and Lela Harrell, had just returned from his tour of duty in the Pacific, where he served in US Army 1942-1946 as a cryptographer, and spent time in the Philippines. It was the beginning of a long love story.

Thanks to Nell for so generously sharing of herself with us.

by Petronella Buck Arledge (used with permission)
28 June 1995

Street corners are known for a variety of action.  Busses stop at street corners to pick-up and let off passengers. Policemen are often at street corners to help direct traffic. Stop signs and mail boxes are sometimes on street corners.  Ladies of the evening are known to hang-out on street corners so their customers can pick them up.  Zealous missionaries have been known to hold street meetings, on street corners, to teach the gospel.  Panhandlers sit on corners so they can attract people going both ways. For me, Fifth and Austin Ave. in Waco, Texas is the street corner where my world began to change.

Walgreen's Drugstore was on the corner of Fifth and Austin. On February 12, 1943, I was standing in front of that drugstore waiting for a blind date.  One of my co-workers, Bonnie Arledge, had arranged a date for me with her brother Tommie, who was home on leave.

Bonnie was on sick leave after having an appendectomy. While she was in the hospital, I met her mother Lela, who was visiting her.  When Tommie came home on leave, he asked Bonnie to get him a date with one of the girls at the hospital. When she told him she couldn't think of anyone,  Lela piped up and said, "Why don't you get him a date with Nell?  I think he would like her." The likelihood of a mother successfully selecting a date for her son is slim to none, but it happened!

Bonnie told me to take the bus from the hospital to Walgreen's and to wait on the corner. I knew Frances, one of Bonnie's friends, who would be with Tommie and his brother Weldon. The plan was for the four of us to double-date and go to the show.

I was seventeen years old and had never had a blind date. My nervousness increased as I waited and watched for my date. Many thoughts raced through my mind: "Would I like him? Would he like me?" He was a serviceman and almost four years older than I. Would he be too mature for me?" Bonnie had showed me his picture, and I was impressed with his good looks. Today girls would call him a hunk, but I still couldn't help worrying a little. As my anxiety was overcoming me, I saw him, before he saw me, as he sauntered slowly across the street. My first impression was correct, " He is a laid-back guy who never gets in a hurry, not even to meet a new girl."  I quickly observed  that Tommie's picture did not do him justice.

The earth did not shake when we met; but as they say today, 'I could feel the chemistry.'  We had an ordinary date of going to the show. What was not ordinary was the kiss that I received after we left the show. Another first happened! I had never been kissed on a first date before. When he took me back to the hospital, he gave me a note from Bonnie. At the end she said, "I hope you like your date."

The date wasn't bad, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to go out with him again. I was afraid he was a little too forward, but I couldn't forget that kiss. He was persistent. Before he went back to camp, he called me; and we had another date. From then on, we dated every time that he was home on leave for about three and a half years. We wrote lots of letters; he was a cryptographer, so I also received an occasional telegram. We were married nine days after I graduated from nursing school. Next year, we are planning to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary. I think I can safely say that the meeting at the street corner of Fifth and Austin in Waco, Texas was the beginning of a lasting relationship.

Nell Buck and Tommie Arledge, 1945

Kids Will Say Anything
by Petronella Buck Arledge (used with permission)

Driving long distances with three small children can be hazardous to a mother's mental health. Many times my sanity was tested from the get-go when I traveled with my three children from Lubbock to Waxahachie to see my parents. Many problems came up besides defensive driving, watching road signs, and keeping the speed limit. One of the main problems was listening to the frequent question of, "How long is it until we get there?"

Questions from the kids about distances were par for the course.

Sometimes we reached Idalou, a distance of fifteen miles, before I heard, "How much farther is it?"  Once when we were packing the car for our trip, I told them, "No questions about how long is it until we get there before we get to Ft. Worth; then, you can ask." After we had been on the road about thirty minutes, Candy said, "How long is it before we get to Ft. Worth?"
Ft. Worth is three hundred miles from Lubbock and I tried to think of a lot of things to keep four, five, and eight-year-olds occupied.

First, I prepared a grazing box with plenty of sandwiches, and snacks. The rule was: no grazing until after we went under the underpass on Broadway.  The box was placed between the two in the back seat; thus, a make-shift petition was between them. The petition served a purpose and kept me from hearing one of them say, "Mama, Craig is sitting too close to me. He is leaning on me. Make him move over."

Besides the grazing box to separate them, we had a thermos jug of water so we wouldn't have to stop for a drink. I begged them to have only small sips because big drinks meant frequent pit stops. With so many miles to cover, I had to make some time. With Steve and Craig, we could always find a bush that served as a substitute urinal.  For Candy or me, we had to find a service station. That was not always easy with the wide open spaces of West Texas. If we ever stopped for a rest room, all three of them piled out, and it was a chore to get them back into the car. Gum ball machines, souvenirs, and candy in the counter always caught their eye. The gum ball machines always enticed them. They knew gum was a no-no in the car, but
the small trinkets mixed in with gum is more than they could resist. Trying to get them ready for some more traveling took some doing. I can still hear myself barking, "Kids, we have to get on the road if we are ever going to make it to Waxahachie." The pit stops rested me; but I felt I had to push, or we would never get there.

The kids played games, sang songs, read funny books, and colored in their coloring books. Steve was a jewel to read to the other two and helped out with a lot of their needs. Their favorite game was the animal game. One of them thought of an animal, and the others  began asking questions until they solved the mystery. The first question always was, "Is it ferocious?" Whoever solved the puzzle got to think of the next animal. When they tired of the game, we sang "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in rounds. One would sing with me and Steve, the older, sang with the other one. We made beautiful harmony. We always took a stack of funny books; if only we had kept them all, we would have a warehouse full of expensive collectibles. In addition to comic books, we also had coloring books. Why one of the
children is not an artist is one of my mysteries. Each of them started coloring at an early age. Of course we went through times when they ate the crayolas or broke them in small pieces, but they were wonderful instruments of creativity. We went through the grazing, coloring, singing, games and reading many times before we got to Ft. Worth.

On one of our trips, we entered a construction area as we were approaching Ft. Worth.  My nerves were beginning to get a little frayed, and I was getting tired.  I missed seeing a traffic sign that reduced the speed limit from fifty-five to forty-five miles per hour. Glancing into my rear-view mirror, I noticed that a police car, with red lights on was right behind me.  I told the kids, "I am afraid the cop behind us is after me." Immediately, all three of them got up on their knees peering out the back window. My heart sank as I pulled onto the shoulder.  The kids didn't make a sound and were wide-eyed as their Mama got a good lecture from the policeman for speeding in a construction area. I said as little as possible, and I sensed that he felt a little sorry for me driving alone with three small kids. I lucked out with just a warning. A ticket would have been the last straw, and I still had to go through downtown Ft. Worth.

 Just before we got to the outskirts of Ft. Worth, they got their usual briefing: "You have got to be quiet until we get out of town so I won't be distracted in the heavy traffic." We still had forty-five miles to go before we got to Waxahachie. They were still a little subdued after Mama's visit with the policeman as we made it to Waxahachie with no more problems. As we pulled into my folk's driveway, they were excited to see their "Nannie" and "Dang." Before we ever got into the house, they began telling about Mama's close call with the "law." Not only did they tell their grandparents, they also told every other relative that they saw while they were there.

We had an enjoyable visit; and after several days, we headed back to Lubbock. Going through Ft. Worth was uneventful; but between Ft. Worth and Jacksboro, I looked up to see a highway patrolman standing behind his car on the side of the road.  He was waving at me to pull over. The kids were awe-struck, and I was thinking, "Not again!" I pulled over to the side in front of his car and began rolling down my window. Just as the patrolman was walking up to my car, Candy, who was in the back seat, leaned over my seat, and stuck her head out of the window. She hollered, "Officer, what is the matter? Was my Mama speeding again?" I didn't want to get arrested for child abuse, so I didn't strike her. I just looked straight ahead and pretended
that I didn't hear her. The officer was not saying anything, so I finally looked at him. He was trying to refrain from laughing, but he couldn't. Finally, he lost it and almost split his sides.   At the time I wasn't too amused, because I was a little put out with my daughter. As he began to get control, he said, "No, honey, your Mama wasn't speeding again. This is just a routine driver's
license check." I grabbed my purse and pulled out my license as fast as a pick-pocket fleecing his victim. The nice officer handed back my license, thanked me, and walked back to his car.  I looked in my rear-view mirror to see him as he opened his car door. He was still shaking with laughter.

For the rest of the way home, I congratulated myself for not lowering the boom on Candy. I kept saying, "Out of the mouth of babes." Little did I realize then, that the story would bring many chuckles to my family for years to come.

Born 14 March 1886 in Woodbury, Tennessee
Died 3 April 1938 in Chilton, Texas

By Petronella Arledge  26 July 1995

Isaac (Ike) Washington Arledge, my father-in-law, was a giant of a man even though his height, of five foot seven inches, was a bit below average. During his short life, he was called upon to be a leader and to serve as the back-bone of his family. His shoulders were unusually broad both in measurement and in holding the burdens of others. He was an energetic, conscientious worker who labored long hours in order to support his family.

At an early age, he learned what it was like to put in a full day's work. When the 1900 census was taken, Ike was listed with a family other than his own. As a lad of fourteen, he was living with S. Alex Inglis in Cannon County, Tennessee. His relationship to Mr. Inglis was registered as a servant. My speculation is that Ike was working on his farm while boarding with the family. We know little about Ike's parents, because they died at an early age. His father Isaac Hassell Arledge died in 1902 when Ike was only sixteen.  In 1908, his mother Eliza M. Akers Arledge died four months after Ike married Lela Ophia Harrell. Ike was well aware of the meaning of grief and sadness. He lost a brother Henry who was fourteen years of age, a sister Betty who was only five, and a sister Mary who was a baby of one year.

In all, Ike was one of nine children. One brother Jesse Nathaniel Eagleton Arledge was four years older than Ike but was never as responsible or settled. After their parents were gone, Ike was left with the responsibility of four younger brothers and sisters: Lillian age nineteen; Jack age sixteen; Bill age thirteen; and Jimmie age eleven. At age twenty two, Ike had a new wife, a baby on the way, and four adolescent siblings to provide for. The following year, Ike was faced with a family problem that forced him to make a move. Ike brought them all from Tennessee to Texas

Not only did Ike play a big part in raising his brothers and sisters, he had eight children of his own. The first six children were boys, and then two girls came along. The daughters were disciplined by Lela, but Ike raised the boys without sparing the rod. He marched them to the barn when disciplinary action was in order. My husband Tommie and his brothers have often mentioned that when corporal punishment was forth-coming, they always hoped he wouldn't use his hands on their backside. They wished instead for a razor strap or hickory limb because "Papa" was known for his big hands. During his lifetime, Ike could avoid fights just by putting up his "dukes."

Usually, Ike used other means instead of brute strength in his dealings with others. He had to use diplomacy, psychology, and an awful lot of patience to manage eight children. Raising six consecutive boys was no easy task, but if problems arose, Ike faced them head on. One day the sheriff drove over to Ike's place with some disturbing information. Sensing trouble when he saw the police car drive up, Ike met the sheriff in the front yard. After a greeting, the sheriff asked, "Ike, I understand that your two older boys, Rueal and Morgan, are running a still and selling their products. You know that boot-legging is unlawful. Are you going to break-up that operation or should I do it?"

Ike was stunned because he knew nothing about the illegal actions of his sons. He told the sheriff, "Don't worry, I will investigate; and if anything like that is going on, I will take care of it." After some detective work, Ike discovered that the teenagers had learned to make home brew. They had set up their brewery in a vacant shed quite a ways from the house. Every thing was well planned by the young entrepreneurs. They chose a place close to a spring of water so they could easily rinse out empty beer and soda pop bottles for their freshly made brew. Sterilization did not seem to be part of their game plan.  They bought themselves a capping device so that they could recap their second-hand, filled bottles. On Saturday night, they took their products to the nearby towns of Rosebud and Lott to bootleg their wares.  Their undoing occurred when someone became ill on the green beer and snitched to the sheriff. Ike broke up the still as if he were a zealous temperance leader and dealt with the boys in a way that led them to believe that they had better take up some other kind of business.

The education of his children was important to Ike; and to do his part, he served on the school board at one time.  That proved to be embarrassing when he received word of mis-behavior on the part of some of his kids. As he was returning home in a wagon from the gin, he passed the school. Two of his boys, Tommie and Weldon, were engaged in a major fight with some other students on the playground. In the middle of fists flying, Ike brought the mules to a standstill and climbed down from the wagon. Tommie and Weldon were astonished when "Papa" showed up to break-up the fight. He promised the two boys that he would deal with them when they got home. Tommie and Weldon got a double-dose for their indiscretions because they received a paddling at school first.

In addition to the heavy load that he carried at home, neighbors sometimes relied on him for counseling when trouble arose. Although Ike's formal education was limited, he was a master psychologist. Dude, a man who lived nearby, often imbibed too heavily in the booze. At times his family suffered greatly, because he invariably engaged in irrational acts while he was drunk. One day, one of Dude's boys ran across the field to get Ike for help. Breathlessly, Dude's boy explained, "Mr. Ike, come quick! Papa is standing on the rim of the well. He says he is going to jump in. Mama and Grandma are holding on to him."

Ike had been summoned by his neighbors before, and he did not run over to Dude's at break-neck speed. As he arrived, a pitiful sight was before his eyes. Dude's wife and mother were crying and begging him not to jump into the well as they held onto his legs with all their might. Ike strolled up to the well and took hold of the women by their arms. He slowly led the frightened ladies away from the well leaving Dude still standing on the rim. He turned around and started giving Dude instructions: "Don't worry Dude! I've got a hold of them now. You can go ahead and jump!" Dude bounded down sheepishly from the rim of the well, and walked into the house. Ike tipped his hat to the women and headed for home.

Besides the stress that Ike suffered throughout his life, he also dealt with physical problems. While toiling on one of his many laborious jobs, he was working with lime and inadvertently got some into one of his eyes. The results were disastrous. The caustic substance destroyed the eye, leaving him partially blind for the rest of his life. Ike's kids sometimes preferred to be on his blind side. That usually occurred when they wanted to engage in some kind of mischief. Morgan, who was the  second child, always sat next to Ike at the table. Curiosity over-came him on one occasion, and he decided to find out for sure if "Papa" was totally blind in his bad eye. Morgan slowly moved his index finger horizontally in front of the bad eye. Ike sensed that something was in front of his face and quickly turned his head towards Morgan. He unintentionally poked his finger in Ike's good eye; and for a short time, he was blind in both eyes. Morgan hurriedly disappeared until Ike cooled off and regained the sight in his good eye.

Besides the visual disability, Ike had other major health problems. Early in life, he suffered from hypertension for which medical science had not developed any successful treatment. When his blood pressure was high, he endured un-relenting headaches. My husband Tommie was rubbing his father's head when Ike suffered a fatal stroke at the age of fifty-two.

His family questioned why he was taken at such an early age. Small children who needed a father were left behind. Probably, more than one reason was involved. Maybe the long lasting burdens that were heaped on Ike were partly responsible. More than likely, the lack of good medical care played the bigger part in his early death. Of his eight children, seven developed some kind of vascular disease, which leads one to believe that heredity might have been one of the culprits.

Losing Ike almost destroyed Lela; her hair turned gray almost over-night. She was completely devastated, because he was her main-stay. Not only did he provide the financial needs, he did the shopping for groceries, clothes, and other necessities. He also handled the purse-strings, so Lela knew little about managing money. She survived for twelve more years and carried on with the help of her older children. My husband Tommie was sixteen, Bonnie was thirteen, and baby Jo was nine. The older boys, Rueal, Morgan, Harold, Brownie, and Weldon were old enough to fend for themselves. Rueal sacrificed his own personal life by staying on with his mother and helping her raise and provide for the younger ones.

When I think of the things concerning his family that Ike missed while on this earth, I feel as if he was deprived of some of the good things of life. He was able to see his first grandchild Jerry Wayne who was born seven months before he died, but he never got to meet the other ten grandchildren or any of his children's spouses. I, for one, missed out by not knowing my father-in-law. I would have liked Ike.

Ike and Lela Arledge (left) and their three oldest sons: Rueal, Morgan and Harold (right).

An Adventure In A Rumble Seat
By Petronella Arledge 1995 (used with permission)

Everything was peaceful and quiet except for the camp meeting bugs who were chirping out in the bushes. The clock had already struck twelve on a very hot, summer night deep in the heart of a farming community in central Texas.  Six of the children and Mama and Papa were sound asleep in their farm home when suddenly, they were all awakened by a loud disturbance in the front yard.

Upon hearing the noisy outbreak, the whole family in their skimpy night clothes, jumped out of their beds and pallets and ran out onto the front porch to see what was happening.  The sleepy-eyed baby was in Mama's arm and was bawling at the top of her voice.  She had been suddenly awakened to the scene of loud, wild confusion, and that was terrifying  her .  The shrieks coming from the baby just added to the bedlam.

The disturbance in the yard was caused by the two older boys who had been out on a double date.  They were yelling and name calling with unmentionable expletives.  Their bodies were locked together, and they were rolling over and over on the ground. Rueal seemed to be the madder, and he was trying to land punches on Morgan.  Mama began to scream and beg Papa to do something before they killed each other. Papa ran out bare footed and in his underwear to try to break up the fight.
The two boys were close in age and were usually the best of friends, almost constant comrades; but something had happened on the dates that infuriated Rueal who was the older, and it seemed he meant to get revenge.

Morgan had been dating a girl for sometime, and Rueal  knew that Morgan's girl, Ruby, had a younger sister, Clara, who was a real looker.  It had been rumored that Clara was lonely and wanted some male companionship.  The only problem was that Clara was married.  Clara's husband was on a job out of town, and she was staying with her folks while he was gone.  With the agreement of Morgan, Rueal, Ruby, and Clara, a plan was devised to get Clara out of her parents' house without causing any undo suspicion.  A date for Rueal with Clara was in the making.

 The real enterprising conniver was Morgan who thought up a somewhat questionable and daring plan.  The two brothers owned a gray ford coupe that had a rumble seat, which always seemed to impress the ladies.  One night Rueal and Morgan traveled about fifteen miles over to the girls' house to pick them up for a date.  Just before they got there, Morgan put Rueal in the rumble seat and closed the lid.  When they arrived at the girls' house, Morgan went in and got the girls; and the three of them took off in the front seat with Rueal still hidden on the floor board of the rumble seat.  It was no easy feat for Rueal to be in the small rumble seat with the lid closed.  He was a tall drink of water, at least six foot three inches.  The only way he could be in there was to lie on the floor, probably in an awkward and uncomfortable fetal position. As soon as they got out of sight of the girls' house, Morgan stopped the car and opened the rumble seat.  Clara jumped out of the front seat and climbed into the rumble seat with Rueal.  That wasn't always easy, especially for ladies in dresses; but a round metal step on the fender of the car helped some.

After the date was over and Morgan had escorted the girls to the front door and had traveled down the road a ways, he stopped so that Rueal could transfer from the rumble seat to the front seat with him; then off they drove on their way home.  That was the first of several fun-filled nights.  It was great fun for the ones in the rumble seat, because the seat was so small that it made their togetherness quite cozy.  The wind blew through their hair, and the openness offered them a natural air conditioner, something the cars of the thirties did not have.  The couples changed places during the evening so that all of them could have a turn to enjoy the rumble seat.

 The night of the big fight was somewhat of a different situation with a few changes in the usual plan.  Gregarious Morgan was feeling frisky because they had been nipping on home brew, and he decided he would have some fun with Rueal on the way home.  Rueal had already scrunched himself into his hiding place,  the lid had been closed, and the girls were safely home.  Morgan was cruising toward home; but when it came time for him to stop and let Rueal out of the rumble seat, he just kept going on down the road.  The country road was unpaved and deeply rutted caused by recent heavy rains.  The route was unbelievably rough, and the shockless coupe made the ride on the floor of the rumble seat almost unbearable.  Soon, Rueal realized that it was past time for Morgan to stop and let him out of his cramped quarters.  He began to pound and kick on the petition between the rumble seat and the front seat.  He yelled and hollered threateningly and begged over and over for Morgan to stop and let him out.

Morgan continued down the road, laughing and enjoying the prank he was playing on his big brother.  Poor Rueal was practically beaten to death from the rough ride and the sweltering heat.  He felt  he was about to suffocate from the lack of fresh air.

The big fight started when Morgan drove into the front yard and let panting, bruised, and fuming mad Rueal out of the rumble seat.  The younger kids, except the baby, were having a big time watching their older brothers fight and roll around in the dirt.  They were clapping, laughing, and taking sides.  It was also especially funny to see Papa in his underwear trying to pull those two apart.  He was shouting at the top of his voice for them to "break it up."

What really stopped the fight was Morgan who couldn't stop laughing even though Rueal was trying to put knots on him.  The laughter became contagious, and Rueal was beginning to cool off some; and pretty soon he realized the hilarity of the situation.  They both got up off the ground, brushed themselves off, and went into the house to go to bed.  The little kids were disappointed that the fight was so short-lived.

For the time being, Papa was willing to let things stand so the family could get a little more sleep before the fast-approaching dawn arrived; but sure as the sun would come up, things were not completely settled.

As the early morning arrived, Papa demanded an explanation from Rueal and Morgan.  Things weren't quite as funny as they had been the night before, and the hung-over and sleep-deprived pair dreaded to hear the disciplinary action that Papa had thought up and promised after their day's work was completed.

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