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Alta Faye Laubhan Harrelson

An interview by L.J. Ehrlich

Mesa, Arizona,  March, 1996


            Alta Faye was born to Alexander George Laubhan on Feb. 5, 1914.  Her mother was  Louisa Ehrlich, born in 1890 in Marion, Kansas.  Alex and Louisa were married Jan. 11, 1911 in Arnett, Ok.  Alta Faye had an older sister, Beatrice who died in 1991, and has a younger brother Marvin who lives in Arizona.  Marvin is married to Elizabeth Jay.  Alta Faye married Lloyd Harrelson in 1943.  Lloyd died in 1968.  She has one daughter Trudy,  2 grand children and two great-great grandchildren.  Trudy is married to Terry Schneider.


At age 5-6


            In the winter time we had to wear long underwear and we were glad in the spring it was like a holiday we could take off our long

underwear.  We would go to school with them on, after we got to school we would roll up the legs above our knees  so our socks wouldn’t look so bulgy.

            Beatrice and I slept together.  We only had two bedrooms in the house.   We lived in Follett down on the highway where Velma Terrell lives now.   This house was built by  dad, but in the beginning it was just a small house.  About 15 years later we built on  and made it bigger.


Grades 1-7


            My  first grade teacher was Mrs. Hale.   I started to school at 5 years old.  Dad said “Beatrice is going, you just as well go too!”  So Beatrice used to have me set on her lap a lot in school.  She was  2 years older than me.    It was a little harder for me, because I started so young, but I really didn’t have any problems.  In the third and fourth grade Katie Price was my teacher.  I took the fourth grade over because I was so young and had been sick a lot.    I had a bronchial problem of which I still have.  I developed this problem when I was 5 years old.   I have had it ever since.  I was at home sick as much as I was in school in the fourth grade.   I really don’t remember much more only  that we went to the 7th grade and then into high school.


Off to Business College


            When Beatrice graduated in 1929 , I was a sophomore and Dad thought we both should to business college at the same time.  So I quite high school  and went with Beatrice  to business college.   The name of the business college was Wichita Business College in Wichita Kansas.  I was about 15 years old at this time.   After business college I came back to Follett and finished High School.


About Holidays


            Every  year on May 1 we would have Maypole..  It had streamers hanging down.  They were multi-colored crepe paper streamers.  We would weave them in and out of the May pole.  We also would make May  baskets.  We’d take the May  baskets and put them on the doors of the elderly. The baskets had flowers in them we picked from the pasture and a little bit of candy.  Not  too much candy.  We would wind up eating it ourselves if there was.   I remember Mrs. Goodman.  She was a little old lady who didn’t have anyone.  She was around 80 years old.   It always felt good to leave her a basket because she enjoyed it so much.  It was an expression of love.  The flag pole had many uses.  Those of us who  didn’t behave or  get our work done had to march around the flag pole several times.  I was one of those who marched a lot.  

            On Valentines Day we would exchange we exchanged valentines with each other.  Sometimes we made them ourselves.  I remember getting one from Keith Cross.  He kind of was my  boyfriend.  I think.  I was in the 4th grade and my teacher was Miss Price.

             At Halloween we had a lot of fun.  We’d dress up in costumes.  I was around 8 or 9 when I started to go out trick-or-treating.  In a little town we’d go everywhere.  Our folks didn’t take us.  We’d go by ourselves.  It was pretty safe.  We did our part in tearing things up at Halloween too. One year we put a cow up in the school house.  We put it upstairs in the hallway.  We just left it up there.  We all had a part in it.  Tandy, Chat and the Thompson girls, the Crumps, and a bunch of us.  Lewis Hill was superintendent at that time.  We’d soap up windows and take air out of tires.  We didn’t a lot of ornery stuff.  What a shock when they would see that cow in the hallway the next morning.

            When I was a sophomore at school I was always doing something I shouldn’t be doing.  In English class I was writing on something instead of listening.  Mrs. Sewell says to me, “Alta Faye, what are you writing on?”  I said, “Paper”.  She said, “Oh, I thought it was  silk.”  That’s all she said. 

            At Christmas time my Dad would go get a Christmas tree to cut down on Christmas Eve.  We would string popcorn.  It wasn’t a cedar tree but it was kind of an evergreen because it had some leaves on it.  We’d always decorate the house.  We’d make streamers.  We made paper chains at school and put it out the day  before Christmas.  We would always get a gift at Christmas.  Not the way  kids get gifts today.  I remember getting a little cedar chest.  I could put doll clothes in it.  The last year I  remember getting a doll was when the Buielo dolls were popular.  They were like a baby doll.  It had a glass head and hands and it was like a little baby.  The body was stuffed with cotton.  I told my folks that’s all I wanted for Christmas.  But they  cost $6 and that was pretty high. They had got us something us, but I don’t remember what.  So I got up Christmas morning and I didn’t get a doll.   I cried and you know what that does.   Wilson’s were running the drugstore at that time.  They lived in the back of the drug store.  They’re the ones who had the dolls.  Their daughter, Margaret, was my  age and she was getting one of those dolls for Christmas.  I just knew I would because I had told them I wanted one.  Dad said, “Get your coat on, we’ll go up there.”  Mr. Wilson was glad to get the doll out.  So I got the doll and I still have it.  It’s still got $6 marked on its neck, and it has the original dress on.  Trudy has her.  I carried her with me everywhere I went.


Playing Sports


            I played a lot of volley ball and outdoor ports.  I also played basketball.  We practiced outdoors.  We played Higgins who had an indoor court and we thought that was pretty neat to play them indoors.  Of course they probably beat us 100 - 10  but we thought it was fun.  I liked it.  We used to take the bus to Higgins.  After I got out of school at Follett we had a town basketball team. I’d play on it.  I’d get real tired.  I’d sit in the middle of the floor and just rest I’d be so tired.


Courtship Days


            I dated the Davidson boys.  I went with Norvell Adams, Tandy Bruce.  There was Eli Williams that used to have the cleaners there.  I started dating Lloyd  5 or 6 years before we got married.  Lloyd’s Dad’s name was Lawrence.  He had a stepmother.  His mother died when Lloyd was ten. They came from Arkansas and moved to Follett.  It was Northwest Arkansas. Lloyd had been in WWII when he got out.  We got married and moved to Eldorado.  He was working for TR when he came out of the service.  TR had bought that ranch and he wanted Lloyd to tend to it.  I had been working in Almagordo, New Mexico.  I worked for this electric company for about 30 years.  I retired from Community Public Service.  We were married in Kansas at the court house.  He worked for TR a few months.  Someone was wanting to sell the Champlin service station - the one he worked at before he went into the war.  So Lloyd bought it back.  That’s where he was until he died. 

            My  Momma Louisa died of high blood pressure and just old age.  She had a stroke which was the main thing.  She was in a nursing home at Laverne and Shattuck for 6 years before she died.  Dad was in a nursing home for 5 or 6 years in Canadian and Perryton before he died.  Alex was a good whittler.  He always was whittling in his spare time.  He was a jolly, loving man.  At the nursing home, they  enjoyed him so much because he had a French harp.  He’d sing them a little tune along the way.  He just kept things going.  He had a lady friend there.  Dad said she thinks we’re going to get married and he always told her ‘next year’.  She doesn’t realize that ‘next year’ never gets here.

            Life was different then that it is now for kids.


            My advice to my children and grandchildren  on life would be "to be honest and love people.  Be fair and not forget about God".  That’s one of the first things they should know but kids don’t know.  


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