The year 1920 signifies a lot in the world. It was the start of prohibition in the United States; it was also the year that women were granted the right to vote. There were big adventures in store for everyone here in the U.S., learning to adjust to the new ways of life. For one couple in Siloam Spring, Arkansas 1920 was the year that another child was born.
That child was my grandmother, Edith Dean Randolph, and the couple was Balis Franklin Randolph and his lovely bride Martha Ethel Hulet Randolph.
My grandmother had the opportunity in life to see many things. At the age of four my grandmothers parents packed up their life and moved from their hometown of Siloam Springs, Arkansas to Labette County, Kansas. My grandmother stayed in Labette County until she graduated from the Labette County High School. Labette County still has a high school; it probably possesses a timeless difference from when a light footed, tall, slender and beautiful Edith Dean walked the halls.
Before my grandmother graduated from high school she saw big changes in the world and in the United States. Just two months and twenty days after her ninth birthday the stock market crashed. There were more people selling stock than there were people buying them. The day was named Black Tuesday, I don’t know what my grandmother was doing that day, possible practicing her multiplication tables or learning to write in cursive.
Of course this was not the only thing that my grandmother witnessed in her years in the Labette County School system. Discoveries like Pluto were being made, building like the empire state building were being completed, women like Amelia Earhart were making daring decision and Hitler was beginning his take over of Europe. There were also small town things happening. Parades, plays and auctions.
After graduation she continued in her studies, first at Coffeyville Community College and then at Pittsburg State University, attaining a degree in elementary education, something she would pursue until retirement.
In 1942 she married, leaving the Randolph name behind to take the name Harris. She married a dashing young navy man by the name of James Clifford Harris. James, my grandfather was a native of Coffeyville, Kansas, just miles from where my grandmother grew up. They were married on Aug. 22 in Joplin, Mo.
As a professional my grandmother taught for 10 years at Cedar Bluff School in Montgomery County, Kansas. Followed by 10 years at Edgewood Elementary School in Coffeyville, Kansas.
While living in Kansas my grandparents had two children, the older, James Dean Harris, my uncle, and the younger, Rebecca Jane Harris, my mother.
In 1964, my grandparents and my mother packed up and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma. My uncle was in college at that time. He is now known as Dr. James Dean Harris, a professor at my grandmother’s alma mater, Pittsburg State University (Go Gorillas!).
My grandparents raised my mother in Tulsa. She would later graduate from Nathan Hale High School and go on to have me as her first and only child, unless you count Havanah, the German shepherd, which I do.
I don’t want to offend my mother or my uncle, they have both accomplished enough in their lives for multiple posts on my blog, as did my grandfather, but this post is to remember my grandmother.
My grandmother spent 20 years teaching in the Tulsa Public Schools at John Ross Elementary. During her time at John Ross she saw many more historic events. The passing of the Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Sending troops to Vietnam. The first heart transplant and the first super bowl happened in her first years in Tulsa. In 1968 alone, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were both assassinated.
The historic events that happen in my grandmother’s time at John Ross way out number the years she was there. Woodstock happened, the Beatles came and went, Watergate began and ended; we went to Vietnam and came home. A Vice President, and President resigned. The world cried when Elvis died. The Jonestown Massacre hit the news and Sony released the first Walkman. John Lennon was assassinated, Mount St. Helens erupted, the Rubik’s cube caught on, AIDS was identified as the ‘new plague’, PC’s were introduced by IMB, they were huge, a far cry from what I write this blog on. Michael Jackson released thriller, cabbage patch kids become popular and the Vietnam War memorial was opened. That is just 20 of the many historic events that occurred while my grandmother taught at John Ross.
My grandmother’s life did not end after she was done teaching, just as it did not begin when she started teaching. She was always a busy lady. She was involved in her church, Yale Avenue Christian Church, The Daughters of the American Revolution, Alpha Delta Kappa Sorority, Omni Book Club, Knife and Fork Club Brunch Bunch, American Association of University Women and Retired Educators Association.
I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be born in 1920, and I wonder if 70 years after my birth I will be able to look back and see as many historic, world changing event as my grandmother.
Listing the things, she did and the events she lived through does not begin to explain the magnitude of love I had for her. But it makes me feel better to be able to look back on her life and remember the amazing woman she was.
My grandma died two years ago today, in Edmond, Oklahoma. Two years ago today, and I miss her like it happened yesterday. Cliché, I know, but it is the best I can do to describe the longing I have to see her again and update her on what is going in my life.