Stories about my family

Day: August 9, 2020

Table of Contents, Chapter One, The beginnings, “We Family”


I will be publishing a book of about 55-60 stories about my family on this website.  In the first chapter, I recall meeting and courting Phyllis.  We were married in 1958 when I was 18 and Phyllis was 17.  Shortly  I will be 80 and my wife will be 79.  The first chapter was the easiest to write and will please the sentimental romantic among you.

The title of the book is based on an incident which occurred in 1963 when we were Germany.  I came home one day after work, Phyllis met me at the door and we were hugging each other, when our oldest son, who was 18 months, old reached up with his hands and said “hold me”.  So I picked him up and held him between us.  Rick placed an arm each of us and said,   “we family.”

That has been our family motto since then.  Whenever one us  needs help, another(s) will respond, whether it is 12 miles or 1,200 miles, help will come.  Stories in the first chapter are best read in sequence since the story line carries forward.   Stories in the  following chapters more or less stand alone, however each has its chronological order.

The stories in this chapter are listed below.  To read the story 1, type “first time” in search box, after reading the story, notice a link to the next story at bottom right of page.   A glitch put story 7 at the end and skips number 10.   Short term solution, read 7 as last and then put  “frst year” in search box.

 1.   First time I met Phyllis

2.  Day I left home

3.  Meeting Phyllis

4.  Day after Dancing

5.  Returning home

6.  Courting Phyllis

7.  Shock party

8.  Will you marry me

9.  Marriage

10.  First year






Courting Phyllis, Chapter One, pg. 7, “We Family”


It was August 1958.  A lot had happened since I graduated high school and left home in May.  I was seventeen and was beginning to think that Mom was right about me leaving Warner.

Phyllis and Bobby, her  brother

It was my good fortune that I lived with uncle Frank and Angie, next door to the Lasson’s.

I went to school at Draughon’s, worked in a machine shop on Dawson Road and of course had been seeing Phyllis almost every day for the past few weeks.

The topic of our conversation usually was about our childhood.  We were eager to learn as much as we could about each other.

I was thinking about asking Phyllis to be my steady girlfriend. We talked about many things as we sat on the front step.

Where we grew up, what we liked to do.  Just anything.  Our family and growing up were favorite topics.  Just being together.                                                                     

While driving in downtown traffic a few days after I got the Chevy from my parents, I saw an open space in an adjoining lane of traffic.  I down shifted and accelerated to move into the new lane.  


The old car didn’t respond as expected.  I stopped in the middle of the road with a broken transmission.                                                                                                                           

After enlisting help to push the old Chevy to the side of the street, I called Dad.  He was not happy with me.  As I stayed with the car, he drove from Warner with his wrecker and towed the car home. Needless to say, I didn’t get a replacement.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind.  Of course, I kept up my usual hectic schedule of school and work. The only difference these days was the urgency with which I attacked the last leg of my days journey. I looked forward to seeing Phyllis waiting for me.

My new old car

Unfortunately, I was walking instead of driving. Walking and thumbing to Oakhurst after work took longer but did not diminish the anticipation of meeting my sweetheart.  Phyllis met me at the end of her driveway and we would talk.

We never acknowledged that the primary reason for our talks was simply to be together. What better purpose could there be.

After talking a bit, I would go down the street to see Uncle Frank and visit with them for a short while.

After eating, showering and changing clothes, I would go to Phyllis’ house and visit with her and her mom and dad for a bit.

But the two of us spent most of our time on the front porch. Getting to know each other was a fun time.

We talked a lot about our families.  Phyllis talked about having a family of her own.

Marriage of Jack and Phyllis, Chapter one, pg 9, “We Family”


I think it was November, 1958 when Phyllis and I asked her parents if it was OK for us to get married.  First, we planned to be married after Phyllis graduated high school, which would be in two years. The more we talked about marriage, the less inclined we were to wait for two years.

After a few weeks of talking about the subject, we decided to ask Phyllis’ parents if we could get married during Christmas break in a few weeks.

They said yes, but only if Phyllis would complete high school.  We agreed.

For my part, I needed to get a car.  I couldn’t expect Phyllis to walk or thumb rides. I only had $35, the amount of my weeks check. That would not buy very much of a car.  And that is what I bought.

Undeterred, I asked my uncle, Robert H Burr, better known as Jack, for a temporary loan.  After much cajoling, Jack offered the loan, but with interest.


It should be understood that Uncle Jack was the jokester of the Burr clan. Although he had eleven siblings, he was the one most likely to tell a tall tale or to pull a practical joke.   However, that left me with a problem.   

Uncle Jack. Happy guy

I didn’t have money to buy a license.  Now that  was a dilemma. 

A few weeks after the wedding while talking with Uncle Jack, he told me a story.   It was a story of a young man who borrowed money to marry his bride to be and if was to come across the fella, I should tell him to forget about the loan.

That is my uncle Jack.

Will you marry me, Chapter One, Pg 8. “We Family”

WILL YOU MARRY ME                                        

It was clear to me that from the very first time I saw Phyllis that she was a special girl.  After we talked the first time I wanted to talk to her again.  After we  said goodnight the first time I thought about her continuously until we met again. I guess I was “smitten”.

Two in Love

Phyllis and I were in love. I spent all of my extra time with her.  We liked to talk and walk and hold hands.  Almost every weekend Bill and Ellen Lasson did something with the family.

Many Sunday’s Ellen would prepare a big meal and invite relatives for dinner.  I was included in all of those activities as if I were one of the family. I had a good relationship with both of Phyllis’s parents.  They made me feel welcome.

Ellen and I had a special relationship, in particular.  I would kid her and joke around and sometimes would call her “maw” instead of Ellen. She would slap at me with a dish towel and giggle.  Phyllis told me that no one else in the family could get away with such behavior.

Mohawk Park was a favorite Sunday

afternoon trip for the family. We would take up 3 or 4 tables to feed the Lasson clan.

            Fried chicken was a staple. Kids would play tag, red rover, catch and other games.  Phyllis and I would walk around the park holding hands or just sit on a table and talk.  Saturday afternoons the family would go to Parthinia Lake, located about 2 miles from Oakhurst.

The closeness of the lake was one of the main reasons that residents of Oakhurst and the surrounding vicinity went to Parthina.  So it was with the Lassons’.

Since Parthina Lake was private. the owner permitted bathing as well as swimming.  I suppose the soap suds were not harmful to the fish and other aquatic creatures.

Despite all the activities, Phyllis and I made time for private walks and talks about the future.

hard to tell but that is us

Phyllis wanted a family.  She talked about her love for children and caring for their needs during their formative years.  She wanted to teach them, love them and grow them up to be responsible adults.  Most of all, she wanted a home where our children were loved and accepted and could become whatever they wanted to become.  She wanted a family.

Shock party, Chapter one, pg. 6, “We Family”


   On Friday nights we usually went to a neighborhood dance.  Even 58 years later, songs of the 50’s are still our favorite style of music.  We adopted “Just A Dream”  as a favorite as we danced mostly slow dances.  I think the reason we favored the slow ones might have been my un- orthodoxed style of fast dancing.  I could be wrong.

Love birds

Sometimes we would go to what was called a “shock party”. The Saturday night events consisted of a neighborhood parent hosting a TV viewing of a horror movie on the front lawn.

This kind of party was a preference with teenagers, because it was dark and in the scary parts of the movie the girls would scream and the boys would laugh.

Most times the movie was over around midnight.  Phyllis’s parents extended her curfew on these nights, so we took our time getting home and saying goodbye.

Returning home, Chapter one, pg 5, “We Family”


A few weeks after I met Phyllis, I went back to visit my folks in Warner. It was exciting to see the kids and Mom and Dad.  But after an hour or so, I began  thinking about my new home.  I missed Phyllis.  Funny how things like that work.

My parents gave me a 33 Chevy so I would not have to hike from work to Oakhurst.

My new old car

It was shiny and black and ran good.  Dad cautioned me to be careful and baby the motor and transmission. I said I would and at the time I meant it.

As I left Warner, I was confident I knew the way to Oakhurst.

As I turned west out of Muskogee, I let my mind wander.  But by the time I should have been to Haskell, I knew I was totally lost.

Somewhere I had taken a wrong turn and found myself on a dirt road as the rain which had started as I left Muskogee became more intense. The wipers were not working and I began to panic, which was, I suppose, normal for a 17 year old.

The red clay which covered the road was making it more difficult to stay between the ditches.  Suddenly, my spirit rose when I saw a graveled driveway leading to a farm house.

As I knocked on the door, an elderly couple appeared and ushered me to a side room where I removed my shoes and wiped myself dry with a towel which was provided by the friendly couple.  After a cup of hot coffee, I explained my plight.

Equipped with the knowledge of how to get to Oakhurst, I thanked the friendly farmer and his wife and started on my way. Fortunately, the rain had stopped.  I started down the muddy road which was little more than a path and soon came upon a paved road that led to Phyllis’ house.

I was anxious to see her as I drove my muddy car into her driveway.  She came out to met me and after a hug, we surveyed the task before us. Washing a car on a warm day is fun.  Especially if your girlfriend is helping you.

Phyllis on her brother, Bobby’s bike.

I was glad to be back in Oakhurst. This kind of anticipation was something new to me.  We would soon talk of the “L” word.

Day after the dance, Chapter 1, pg 4, “We Family”


As I lay in bed the morning after the dance, I was flooded with memories of Phyllis.  I was bowled over by her looks. She was beautiful.

Phyllis, 25 years later

The way she held her back so straight as she walked and stopped to speak to other girls. Her manner was both elegant and friendly.

 I  remembered every detail of the night before.  Phyllis arrived at the dance later than the other kids.  As I watched her for a little while, trying not to be obvious,

As I looked her way again, to my amazement, she was walking toward me.  She stopped in front of me and looked me straight in the eye and asked “do you wanted to dance”.

I don’t remember the dance but I do remember it was a slow one.  I was glad.  I danced better slow than fast, at least I thought so.

I asked her to dance with me again and again that evening. Obviously enjoying her presence, I was sure I wanted to see her gain.

When the dance broke up, Mrs Lasson asked if I wanted to ride with them since they lived next door to Frank and Angie.

I said, sure.  Phyllis’ mother stopped at the drive way entrance to their house, which was my cue to get out of the car.  I got out, said thanks and started home trying to remember ever thing Phyllis said.

Suddenly I looked at the clock and realized I had been day dreaming.  I just knew that I would see her again that day.

Of course, I did.

Two weeks, Chapter one, pg 3, “We Family”

It had been two weeks since I left home and  I was getting used to being on my own.  But I missed the companionship of my brother, Leo.  He was an odd duck, but I guess I was too.

Two odd ducks

Desiring friendship I started looking for things to do with kids my age.  The local cafe attracted teenagers who hung outside drinking cokes, joking around and sitting on car hoods or tailgates.

I was fortunate to hitch a ride almost all the way to Oakhurst on one Friday afternoon.  I showered, put on my best clothes and headed to the Oakhurst  hangout.  As I approached the cafe, one of the boys came to met me.

Earl McCarthy introduced himself and we became instant friends.  He introduced me to the 5 or 6 boys standing about.. It was a friendly group and I felt accepted.

As Earl talked about things to do on a Friday evening, he mentioned a dance party hosted and chaperoned by parents of teenagers in Oakhurst.  Although I was 17, I had never danced.  But it looked easy to catch on and I felt in the mood.  Approaching a girl standing off by herself, I asked her to dance.  It was a fast one. If the onlookers didn’t think the shy girl could dance, they soon  changed their mind.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched her.  Me, I just tried to keep up, using the side step with one foot and toe tap with the other as I had seen when Elvis was on TV.  Of course my hips were not quite as loose as his.  When we finished, the watchers stood and applauded with appreciation.  Intuitively, I knew the applause was directed at the shy girl.

After the first dance, no one seemed interested in dancing with me. I couldn’t figure it out.  But soon one of the chaperons, Mrs Ellen Lasson, came over and asked me to dance.  She asked me to call her Ellen and we danced 3 or 4 times.  A few minutes later I looked around and discovered she was gone.

My beautiful wife to be

Standing on the side for 15 to 20 minutes, I decided to leave.  But as Mrs. Lasson came through the door with a beautiful girl with blonde hair, I decided to stay a little longer.

My life was about to change as my heart skipped a beat.  I didn’t know that we would be married before the year was over.

The day I left home, Chapter one, pg 2, We Family”

THE DAY I LEFT HOME                     

I graduated high school in May 1958.  I vividly remember the day. Because that day my

New graduate, new beginnings

mother got angry at me.  I had never seen her so mad. If you have seen  a mother on a mission, that was my mom.

She seemed to be more resolute, even as I explained that I wanted to work in the salvage and become a mechanic. She would not relent. I went to my father to help convince her.

Dad was usually a man of few words in matters such as this, leaving the details to mom. He explained that they had made up their minds and that I would be leaving in the morning to attend Draugoun’s Business College in Tulsa. They had paid my tuition and classes would start the following week. Reluctantly, I accepted their decision.

I remember through the years when important decisions or topics of disagreement were discussed, my parents discussed these matters in private. That was the case here.  A thing to remember.

Dad, Mom, me, Alfreda, Leo and Brenda

I left the next morning.  Dad had arranged for me to live with his brother Frank, who was visiting family in the area and came by to pick me up.  I left amid hugs and promises to write and stay in touch. When it was time to say goodbye my parents had different ways.

Mom was full of instructions.  I don’t remember dad saying much. My sisters  seemed especially sad to see me go. I was too.  I had a special kind of relationship with both of them, especially Brenda.

Leo on the other hand, was not usually expressive in emotional situations, and this occasion was no different. We just shook hands and looked at each other and grinned. Love can be transmitted in many.                                                

How was I to know that things would turn out alright. My new life had just begun.  I would soon meet Phyllis   

              Phyllis on Bills lap, Billy beside Ellen, Wilda, Charlene and Bobby

and we would start a life together.  As a result, this new life would bring a multitude of memories.  Each memory would become the gist of a new story.

The first time I met Phyllis, Chapter one, pg 1, “We Family”


I knew a girl named Phyllis Lasson for a few months in 1948 and returned 10 years later to  the to the same place and the same girl and married her.  This is our story.

In the fall of 1958, Phyllis and I had been going steady for a month or so and as we did many times we sat on the front porch and talked about things we had in common. 

                 Phyllis about 10 or 11 years old

The conversation drifted to a school play and as Phyllis described the play, I remembered that I was in the same play in the same school in the same year.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let me start at the beginning.    

The year was 1948.  Dad bought a farm the year earlier which was located Southeast of Warner, near the coal pits, about a mile and a half from Woodall Grade School. Ours was a small 100 acre farm.  Even farming on a small scale was expensive and we had little money.

We needed money to make the place a farm so we moved to Oakhurst, a suburb of Tulsa, where jobs were to be had.  Rob Parson, dad’s brother-in-law, got dad a good paying job in a machine shop on Dawson Road in north Tulsa.  Dad bought an old heavy canvas tent and pitched it on a vacant lot.

I remember the sheets mom put up to divide rooms and the smooth well swept dirt floor. It may seem incongruous, but mom had a clean dirt floor.  We had several neighborhood kids to play with.

The Vanaman’s next door, Lasson’s on an adjacent street and other kids whose names I don”t remember.. It was a fun time playing games and running up and down the dusty streets of Oakhurst.

Leo and I went to Jane Adams School near the Turner Turnpike gate. Being a new kid in school was exciting. Shortly after enrolling, I along with many other students in the second grade were in a play that was performed in conjunction with a PTA meeting.  Our stay in Oakhurst was a success. Dad saved enough money for us to return to the farm and buy the things needed for planting a spring crop.  That was a happy day in the life of the Burr family, because that day dad became a real farmer.    

                                           Phyllis, I think about 15 or 16.

This story does not end here. After I graduated in 1958, I returned to Oakhurst to pursue a business education.  I stayed with Frank, my uncle, and his wife, Angie, who lived next door to the Lasson’s and I started dating Phyllis.  

Such coincidences in life, or was it?  I think not.  It was God’s plan and I am fortunate to be a part of it.

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