Monday, September 28, 2009

Heartbreak and Tragedy

Grandmother, Agnes Gertrude Childs Holt, and son Franklin Raymond Holt, Jr.
The first decade and a half on the farm proved to be tragic almost beyond belief. First, I believe it was 1919, my Uncle Frank contracted polio, which at that time was deadly as they had no reliable medication for it. Fortunately he survived but had a crippled right leg for the remainder of his life.

My folks, John Childs Holt and Naomi Alberta Davis, in the passion of a high school love affair, eloped and were married in New Cumberland, West Virginia. Their first child, a lovely young daughter, Miriam Ruth, arrived on the scene the 7th of March, 1921, two and half months before she was due. Two months later Miriam contracted pneumonia. There were no respirators in those days so she lived only a few days before passing away.

Tragedy struck again on the 6th of September that year. Grandmother Holt had been working in the yard in the afternoon and came into the house with a severe headache. She suffered all evening long and at 12:30 A.M. died of an aneurysm.

On the 15th of August, 1924, my brother, John Childs (Jack) Holt, Jr., was born. Jackie, as they called him, was an alert, bright, little fellow and began walking when he was just ten months old. Father entered Stanford University that fall and Mother and Jackie moved to California with him. Mother's uncle, Claud Thornhill, was the assistant football coach at Stanford. Most of Claud's family moved to California at the same time: my Grandmother Davis (his sister), Grandfather Davis, as well as Grandmother Davis's parents, John Newton and Fannie Bell Smith Thornhill. The University, belatedly, discovered that Dad had not finished his senior year at Rochester High School, located in Rochester, Pennsylvania, and gave him his walking papers at the end of the fall semester. Dad, Mother, and Jackie returned to Rochester and moved into the house at Holtdale that spring. During that summer and fall they were building a large storage barn and garage adjacent to the house. On September 10, 1925, Jackie was playing alongside the new building . Dad heard him cry out and went to him. Jack was crying and rubbing the back of his head. He had fallen backwards striking the base of his skull on the head of a nail protruding from a discarded board. Dad took him into the house and told Mother what had happened. By then, Jack had quit crying and was playing around in the house. Late that evening he went into a coma and they rushed him to the Rochester Hospital where he died. It has always been my belief that a kind and benevolent God, knowing what was coming, had started the healing process as Mother was unaware yet that she was pregnant with me at the time of Jackie's death.

1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine losing two children like that. It would have been great to meet "Uncle Jack".