105 Years of Joy - the Life of Iva Louotta Garner Lydick Foster
(In her own words)
On July 28, 1892 Iva Louotta Garner was born to Leuna and Henry Anderson Garner, in Roscoe, Texas. Her arrival was less than 30 years after the end of the Civil War. Her memoirs were hand written when she was 101 years old in 1993. The following is her life, in her own words.
"My mother was born in Alabama* and Dad was born in Mississippi. Both ended up in Texas on farms. They met and were married. They saved enough money to buy a lumber yard in Roscoe, Texas, where I was born. While still a baby Dad sold the lumber yard and with a covered wagon and two horses he took the family to the new town, Oklahoma City and put in a grocery store. After a few years Dad traded the store for 160 acres of land in Indian Territory at Payson, Oklahoma. The land had a large log cabin with a dirt floor. The farm was just across from the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation. The nearest town was Guthrie, Oklahoma. It took several days for Dad to go to town to purchase food and supplies. I remember hearing Mother talk about the Indian man in his costume and blanket who would come sit under a big oak tree while Dad was gone. Mother was scared of him and watched him through the window, but he never came near the cabin. She figured he was watching after us while Dad was away.
Dad was a real prosperous farmer. He cut down trees to clear the land and for wood to burn in stoves. He raised corn and cotton, set fruit tees and grape vines. There were pecan and walnut trees that provided nuts, wild persimmons that my older sister, Lillian Lee, and I liked to eat. Mother used to make jelly from wild grapes. The corn was fed to the work horse. The cotton seed were fed to the cows. When the fruit trees started bearing we had plenty of fresh fruit and barrels of apples which we stored in the cellar. Yes, we had a cellar where we had a cot and plenty of clothing stored because we had cyclones and we spent many nights there. When my sister and I became old enough we thinned the corn and chopped the cotton. In the fall we picked corn from the stalks and the cotton lint from the cotton plants. We dragged cotton sacks behind us. When they were full, Dad emptied them into a wagon. When the wagon was full Dad took it to a cotton gin. Dad had to drive in the cows for milking. We had plenty of milk and Mother would skim off the cream and churn it into butter.
I had 2 dresses for school. We would change dresses when we came home from school because we had chores to do. We had to fill the wood box and feed the chickens. When we had a vacation through the summer we played with the dogs and cats. We had a cat and there was usually a bunch of little kittens that were born in the seed house that connected with the cow shed. When Mother needed us she usually found us playing with the baby kittens. My sister and I played in the shade of a big tree in the yard. We used corn cobs dressed as dolls in clothing left from pieces of cloth left from dresses or quilts. My sister and I played with dolls that we cut from Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogues. Mother always had a quilt in a frame to be quilted. We were all taught to quilt. I never had any clothes that were not home made. Mother was a good seamstress.
When we were old enough we started to go to school to a one room school house, about 2 miles from our house. It had desks which seated 2 children to a desk. When we recited, we went to a bench in the front of the building. First grade recited first, then the others would follow until the 8th grade was finished. We had a blue back spelling book and everyone used the same books. Our school would have spelling matches with other schools. Mother and Dad would help us every evening after supper. The teacher at our school usually stayed with us. Later as we grew older, Dad bought a side saddle and 2 Indian ponies and we rode to school. Mother would fix 3 buckets of lunches. We always had plenty of food. Mother always had pie or cookies and usually apples in our lunches. There was no church near so they organized a Sunday school in the school house on Sunday.
At Christmas we would get oranges and candy and one Christmas we each received a china doll and a set of china dishes. One year Dad made my sister a doll bed. Mother’s parents lived with us one year and my granddad made me a doll bed and painted it red. He wanted me to have a doll bed, too. It made me very happy.
Dad was a great believer in education, so when I was 14 and there were no high schools near, my sister and I were sent to Edmond, Oklahoma to Central State teacher’s college where I got my teachers certificate. I went there 3 years. Then Dad traded the farm for a hardware store in Stroud. I would not trade my experience on the farm for anything. The summer of 1912 I taught school in a 1 room country school with 28 pupils from 1st grade to 8th grade. I stayed with a son that lived with his father. We ate our meals at the big house. I slept upstairs, going by ladder to bed. After that I taught school at Carney, Oklahoma.
In the fall of 1913, John Roger Lydick and I were married. The next year we had a daughter and named her Louotta Lydick. We lived on a farm 2 miles north of Stroud, Oklahoma. Roger was a very prosperous farmer. We borrowed $400 to set up housekeeping. He planted grains, corn, and cotton that fall, when the crop was harvested, we paid off the loan to the bank. When Louotta’s dad died in July 1920, she was just 5 years old. Louotta and I were in such a shock. He had tetanus and just lived a week. The people all around Stroud were shocked, too. He was the Democratic Committee Chairman and was widely known in the Stroud district.
I stayed in Stroud and taught 3rd grade for 3 years, then moved to Cushing in 1923, and taught 1st grade. The school board allowed Louotta to start school at 5 years old. She continued schooling in Cushing and excelled in schooling and graduated in 1932. The last year in high school she was the leading lady in the school play. She went with a high school football player. He was the captain of the football team. He married Melvin Cruzan and they moved to their own home when he graduated. He worked at various companies, oil field work, and Robertson Steel Mill when he was drafted into the army. She went with him to different job sites as long as she could, until he went overseas. (Somewhere in here I managed to earn my Bachelor of Arts Degree from Oklahoma City University in 1938.) When he went overseas, Louotta came home and was pregnant. Roger was born February 16, 1945, and was not seen by his dad for several months. When he came home he went to work as an assistant manager of the J. C. Penney store in Capital Hill. When I sold the farm that Roger had bought, the spring before he died, I gave Louotta a share of the sale. I gave her money and they bought a home in Capital Hill, which they sold the day they left Oklahoma for Melvin to assume the Assistant Manager’s position in a transfer to a store in Houston, Texas.
I stayed in Oklahoma City and all the time I lived there I was teaching. I worked at the John A. Brown Department Store on Saturdays and through the summers until I retired at age 66 after 40 years of teaching. I kept busy with the Christian Church. I was president of CWF 2 years and secretary for 2 years. While president we prepared and printed a cook book and sold them. It was our project for 2 years. I had a lifetime membership to the KKI teacher's association. I transferred my membership from Capital Hill Christian to Bellaire (Texas) Christian.
In 1964 I moved to Bellaire, Texas, after renting our home. Melvin and Louotta built a new home so I moved into theirs when they moved out. I paid $100 a month. Should have paid more. They didn’t want anything in the way of rent. Since I had been a member of the Business Women’s Club for so many years, I left my membership in Oklahoma City and joined the Ladies Bellaire Civic Club and the BALL Club of the Christian Church, ‘Be Alert - Live Longer’
In 1970 I and my high school sweetheart were married and continued to live there in Bellaire. He had a home in Norman, Oklahoma, and a Hill Top Trailer House park. He and I made a trip back to Oklahoma about once a month to collect the rent from the woman that ran the park for us. We made several trips to the valley here in Texas and brought back several baskets of fruit, oranges and grapefruits. In 1976 he had cancer of the bone marrow and died in a Houston hospital. He was taken back to Stroud and laid to rest beside his 1st wife in the Stroud cemetery.
I continued to live in Bellaire for about 3 years when it became too much for me to take care of house and yard. So in 1979 or so, I moved into a retirement complex (The Treemont House) on Westheimer street in Houston, where I lived about 14 years and drove my car until I was 92. Then I had a tumor in the small intestine and had an operation. After that I had to give up my apartment. I moved to The Colony House in Missouri City, Texas (a nursing home), to be near my daughter and her husband, ‘the son I never had.' I am 101, will be 102 in July 28, 1994. I am in fair health and used a walker until I fell last year and I now use a wheel chair to go to the dining room and to take exercise. On my 100th birthday my family had a big birthday party at Braeburn Country Club where Melvin has a membership. There were about 30 invited guests. My sister from Oklahoma City, Jewel; two nieces from Dallas, friends, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all came."
In 1995 Iva moved to La Junta, Colorado. Louotta and Melvin moved there to be closer to Roger and Randy and their families. At 103 she took a plane to Colorado Springs where she was driven home to stay with Roger and Dee until a room came available at the local nursing home. On July 28 she celebrated her 105th birthday with her family and friends. In September she was the Grand Marshall of the "Early Settlers’ Day" parade. She was indeed the oldest "settler" La Junta has ever had the pleasure of honoring.
On October 16, 1997, Iva died with her loving daughter and best friend at her side. Her mind was clear and she remained a lady until her death. She will be missed by all who knew her.
Roger and Randy gave her 9 great grandchildren, Dawn, Kenny, Craig, April, Chad, Vanessa, Randy, Kevin and James.
Dawn gave her 3 beautiful great great grandchildren, K. C., Amanda, and Taylor who she lived log enough to love and cherish.
*Both Iva’s parents were born in Monroe County, Mississippi, probably not far apart.
(extra notes: Iva Louotta Garner b. 28 July 1892, d. 16 Oct. 1997 married John "Roger" Lydick 31 Dec. 1913, Stroud, Lincoln County, Oklahoma. Roger was the son of Clifton S. Lydick b. July 1863, d. 1948 and Emily Emma Barker b. Feb. 1867, d. 1962 They and Roger's sister, Rilla Lee Lydick b. 17 May 1896, d. 29 April 1988 are all buried in the Stroud Cemetery, Stroud, Oklahoma. Iva's second husband was her high school sweetheart, Thomas Askew Foster, 6 July 1892, d. 5 Aug. 1976. They were married 9 December 1970. Tom's first wife was Nota Guin b 29 Oct. 1888, d. 9 May 1968. They are buried in the Stroud Cemetery, too. Iva Louotta Garner Lydick Foster is also buried at Stroud, Oklahoma)
Submitted by: Marca Lee McInnes Murray
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