I thought I would share memories of growing up in a large family in Webb City from my sister-in-law, Louise Newby Marsh, who passed away Sept. 8, 2017. Louise was the oldest of the 10 children born to Alvin and Mabel Dickson Newby. She had a great mind for remembering, and she often shared those stories with me to print them for future generations of the family. Here is one of her memories.
A large family requires quite a bit of maintenance and Daddy was a good worker. He worked in the mines for $1 a day. Mamma and Daddy lived with Daddy’s folks on Aylor Hill (across Madison Street from Mount Hope Cemetery, where the NAPA store is today. It used to be a very tall hill but was taken down to build Walmart in 1980.) He helped with the farming while living there. Later, we moved to 604 N. Madison St. He also worked for Atlas Powder Co. as a maintenance man. In his spare time, he fished, hunted, trapped and gardened. That was his relaxation, plus it put meat on the table. We were fed fish, squirrel, rabbit, duck, turtle and frog legs, and even had coon and opossum. (They were awful and greasy.) Daddy trapped during the winter. He would have his traps ready and had already scouted out where he would set them when the season opened. He set traps for coons, opossums, minks, muskrats, foxes, coyotes, bobcats and whatever else he could catch. He would bring the animals home, skin them and put the hides on boards to dry. Whatever money he made on the hides was our Christmas; winter coats, shoes, and clothes to make it through the winter.
Mama kept house, took care of us kids, worked in the garden, canned fruit and vegetables for winter and sewed our clothes. She was a pretty good cook for what we had. I can still smell and taste the fried potatoes, beans, hot rolls and bread, sliced tomatoes and gravy. After we ate our meal, for dessert, we usually mixed peanut butter, butter and syrup together and ate it with bread. One day, when Daddy got home from work, Mamma told him she had gotten a job at the shirt factory. He told her she already had a job and it was staying at home and taking care of the babies! Nothing else was ever said about the subject!
Mama could look at a dress and come home and make it. It was usually better than the one she looked at in the store. She was a very good seamstress and with seven girls, it came in handy. Stan, Louise’s little brother (Jeanne’s husband), recalled that his mom often made underwear for him and his two brothers using leftover material from the girl’s dresses. You had to be careful of what you were wearing in gym class because the classmates weren’t too shy about making fun of some of the homemade underwear the Newby boys wore!
Daddy used to play on a baseball team for several years. Runt Ivy was the manager of the team and arranged the games. There were several local men on the team; Runt’s son Ernie, brother Roy, Bernard Williams, brother Atley Williams, Howard Scheurich, the Wynn brothers, Bus and Bob, Bob Lacy, Phil Mayes, Rex Keys, Cotton McKey, Ernie Grissom and Spencer. One day, they went to Opolis, Kan., to play. The Webb City men were beating the Kansas team. Daddy caught the fly ball out in center field and it was the last out. When the men started to come in, two of the men from Opolis grabbed Daddy by each arm and the third man hit Daddy in the face and split his lip open. Mama grabbed a shin guard and was headed to Daddy’s defense before Runt stepped between her and the men. They took Daddy to Jane Chinn Hospital and had his lip stitched. They never played Opolis again.
Daddy worked at the Sucker Flat mine in what’s now King Jack Park. The trucks would drive around the sides and spiral down into the deep, open pit. Daddy also worked at the Quick Seven Mill, and it had to be kept running at all times. If it stopped, it was hard to get it started back up again. In the winter, if the mill froze up, you couldn’t get it started again till warm weather when it thawed.
There were rodeos in town, and they set up across the street from our house on Madison Street in a big open field (where the school swimming pool is located). Madison was a gravel road then. We would put a quilt out in the front yard and watch the people and the cars go by. We could also see some of the rodeo action… the calf roping, bronco riding and the bull riding. One of the bulls jumped the fence and ran across Madison Street heading for our yard. We saw it coming and jumped up and ran into the house. My little brother Gale was just a baby at the time and we grabbed him up and the bull stepped on the blanket right where Gale had been sitting.
Lots of our childhood memories centered around food and snacks. I recall making toast on the side of the stove (didn’t have a toaster) and dipping it in a cup of hot cocoa. We loved company on the weekend, as Mamma would pop some popcorn and make some fudge, what a treat. And we loved when it snowed and we got snow ice cream. Mix milk, sugar and vanilla together and pour it over a bowl of snow and eat it. We never could use the first snow of the year, it had too many germs in it! While gathering the snow for snow ice cream, we couldn’t resist laying down, stretching out our arms and legs and making a few snow angels in the yard. In warmer weather, we had fun playing games with the neighbor kids; kick the can, red rover, and hide ‘n seek.
Yeah, we didn’t have all the nice things smaller families would get, but we had built-in friends (our sisters), and we never knew we were poor because there were so many families in the same shape we were. Lots of fun family memories that we share every time we get together make for a wonderful childhood that we cherish.
Louise was the first of the Newby kids to pass. At the time she died, they ranged in age from her 87 years to 65. They were a close family that mets together once a month and has family reunions every two years for the kids who live out of state. I feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful loving family. I can’t forget to mention all the many wonderful cousins that have kept in close contact with the Newby Kids. Too many cousins too list, besides I might leave one out… can’t do that!
Louise is missed, she was active in the community and known by many.