Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
Heathcock Genealogy Database - Person Sheet
NameFrances Elizabeth Lay , Mother
Birth23 Apr 1915, Georgetown, Williamson Co TX
Death26 Sep 1994, San Antonio, Bexar Co TX9,8 Age: 79
BurialSunset Memorial Cemetery; San Antonio, Bexar Co TX
FatherJesse Lee Lay (1887-1935)
MotherMabel Coral Harris (1891-1968)
Spouses
Birth10 Sep 1910, Stockdale, Wilson Co TX7,8
Death28 Feb 1950, San Antonio, Bexar Co TX8 Age: 39
BurialSunset Memorial Cemetery; San Antonio, Bexar Co TX
Marriage12 Dec 1935, Hondo, Medina Co TX
ChildrenClayton Howell (1936-)
 James Franklin (1939-)
 Peggy Frances (1945-)
Notes for Frances Elizabeth Lay
Frances Lay was the second child of Jess and Mabel Lay.12 Her brother Charles Marion (b 1910) and sister Alyce Virginia (b 1920) were born in the same Georgetown house, the family home of Mabel's parents. Frances did not know where the family lived between Jess and Mabel's marriage and her birth, but she does recall her mother telling her that she (Mabel) returned to her family home in Georgetown for the birth of each of her children.
After Frances was born, the Lay family moved to San Marcos, Texas, where her father operated a laundry. During this period, Mabel’s mother Cordelia Harris became ill and was confined for some time at Scott & White’s Sanitarium in Temple. On January 4, 1918, Cordelia wrote Mabel a postcard: “My dear child. I am sitting by the window in the blue chair. The first time I have sit up since I came. Am just doing fine and think I am going to get well. Don’t know just when I can go home. Don’t worry one bit. I am just fine. Kiss both babies for me. Love & kisses for all.” It is a sign that these were simpler times that the card was addressed to “Mrs. Jess Lay; San Marcos, Tex; c/o Laundry.”
In about 1919 the family moved to Lockhart, Texas. They remained here until after Virginia's birth in November, 1920, and then moved to Bay City, Texas, on the Gulf Coast, where Frances started in school in the Fall of 1921. She remembers living about two miles from the school, and generally walking to and from school. On occasion, Jess would take Charles and Frances to school or pick them up after school in his car, a Chevrolet touring car. A few months later they moved to San Antonio to care for Nannie Jennie Lay, then 60 years old. "Grandma" Lay's husband, Frances Marion Lay, had died in June of 1918 at the family home in La Vernia, Wilson County, Texas. Nannie Lay moved to San Antonio in 1919, where she lived alone at 734 Essex Street. She had diabetes and her son worried that she needed care, particularly in preparation of her meals. In San Antonio, Jess Lay worked again at a laundry. Frances remembers that her mother and grandmother quarrelled frequently because Nannie would not follow her prescribed diet, and would sneak into the kitchen to eat sweets.
Jess and Mabel and their three children lived with Nannie Lay in the Essex Street house for only a year, partly because of the dissension between Mabel and Nannie Lay. They moved to a house on Drexel Street and Frances attended school at Highland Park elementary school. About this time, Jess Lay left the laundry business and began working for a company that sold janitorial supplies. He travelled throughout Texas and five neighboring states selling cleaning supplies to commercial concerns. Frances remembers that he was gone for about three out every four weeks.
When the depression came, the Lay family began to experience trouble making their financial ends meet. In 1931, Jess Lay was laid off by the janitorial supply house for which he had worked for 10 years. He tried to go into business for himself, making floor-sweeping compound in the family garage. However, this venture did not succeed and he went to work for the Southern Equipment Company selling on a commission basis. Again, he was unable to earn enough to support the family, so in January, 1933, the family moved to La Vernia, where they rented a house with two acres of land for $8 per month. For the next eighteen months, Jess and his son Charles continued to work in San Antonio, and Frances continued to go to school there, at Brackenridge High School. The family drove back and forth to La Vernia, a trip of one hour. In La Vernia, the family had an extensive vegetable garden and a cow. At one time during that year, Frances remembered Jess and her Uncle Richard Wells slaughtering a pig.
In high school, Frances concentrated on secretarial skills courses, shorthand and typing. Although she remembers "hating" shorthand, she excelled at tying, and won a "competent typist pin." Her speed of 67 words per minute was the best recorded in the competition. She graduated on June 1, 1933, at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium, one of a class of 430.
After graduation, Frances tried unsuccessfully for a year to find a job using her secretarial skills. On July 1, 1934, the family moved back to San Antonio, where they lived at 409 Drexel Avenue. Jess went to work for the Southwestern Specialty Company, wholesale jobbers. Frances obtained a job working in the dining room at the San Antonio State Hospital and started work there on September 1, 1934.13 She worked every meal, seven days a week, and lived on the premises for a pay of $30 per month and room and board.
On April 14, 1935, Jess and Mabel Lay moved again to 734 Essex Street, the same house in which they had lived earlier with Nannie Lay, Jess Lay's mother, who had died in 1931. The Essex Street house belonged to Nannie Lay when she died, but the lawyers insisted that Jess and Mabel pay rent to her estate while they lived there.14 In the early 1940s the house was sold for about $2000. Jesse Lay's portion of the estate came to $165 and was divided between Charles, Frances, and Virginia; Mabel Lay, the widow, got nothing. Virginia Lay remembers "That $55 was a godsend to Phil and me because we had our 1935 Chevy in the garage for repairs after a wreck and the costs were $52! Hard times for all of us. We all figured that the lawyers got the bulk of the house sale."
It was at the State Hospital that Frances met Clayton Heathcock, who also worked there as a guard. On December 12, 1935, Frances and Clayton eloped and were married in Hondo, Texas. Tragically, on the same day Jess Lay suffered a heart attack and died in the hospital a week later (December 19, 1935), at the age of 48.
In May 1936 Clayton and Frances Heathcock quit their jobs at the State Hospital and took up residence in a house on Gimbler Street in San Antonio while Clayton worked with the Plaza Hotel Laundry. After the birth of Clayton, Jr. on July 21, 1936, they moved to Dallas where they lived for six months while Clayton tried his hand at selling refrigerators on a commission basis. When this job didn't work out, they returned to San Antonio and Clayton resumed his job with the Plaza Hotel Laundry. Their home at this time was 613 Ripley Street and for a time Frances' widowed mother Mabel Lay lived with them at that address. The author remembers the house well. It was a somewhat rambling frame house with a porch on the front. Its large, fenced-in back yard was mostly dirt. There were often chickens being raised in pens, and "wringing the neck" and plucking the feathers to prepare for a meal was a regular occurrence. Along the back fence was a creek and a railroad track. The next-door neighbor was Oscar Warneke, Sheriff of Bexar County.
In this period, full recovery from the depression had not yet come, and Clayton Heathcock had trouble earning enough to support his family. In the summer of 1938 he returned to his family home in Stockdale, Texas, the "watermelon capitol" of Texas. During the harvest season, which only lasted a few months, Clayton was able to earn as much as $50 per day stacking watermelons onto trucks for shipment.
On August 7, 1939, their second child, James Franklin, was born; at this time the family still lived at 613 Ripley Street. Clayton continued working for the Plaza Hotel Laundry until 1940, when he took a brief job (5-6 months) working as a night watchman for the San Antonio Public Service Company. The author still remembers his father going to work in his Model T ford with his revolver strapped to his leg. The 1940-41 San Antonio City Directory lists Clayton and Frances Heathcock as residents of 1715 Santa Anna; Clayton was an attendant at the San Pedro Texaco service station. Frances' sister Virginia Lay is listed in this directory as an employee of Dun & Bradstreet, Inc., still living at 613 Ripley Street. Her brother Charles M. Lay and his wife Agnes lived at 503 Bailey Avenue; Charles was a salesman for the Dixie Cup Corporation.
During the Second World War, Frances and her family continued to live in San Antonio. Clayton held several jobs, including one as a bus driver and another stint with the Plaza Hotel Laundry. The author remembers visiting the laundry office, which was on the ground floor of the Smith-Young Building, after school in the afternoons. One of his fondest recollections is being allowed to type on an old Royal upright. Another vivid memory from this period is the laundry panel truck, which Clayton frequently brought home after work. This vehicle had only a driver's seat, and was rigged for clothes hangers in its back compartment. It was often used for weekend trips to Stockdale, where Clayton, Frances, Clayton, Jr., and Jimmy Heathcock visited Will and Mollie Heathcock, Clayton's parents. For these trips, Frances had to sit on an orange crate while the children lounged about in the rear of the truck.
In March, 1945, the owners of the house on Ripley Street sold the house and the Heathcock family were forced to move. Their first residence was the top half of a two-story duplex on B Street. This apartment had been occupied by Frances' sister Virginia and her husband Phillip Scott before they left for New York, where Phil Scott was in the armed services. During this period, Frances was pregnant with her third child. They stayed in this location for about six months, then went into a nomadic phase which saw them living for two weeks in a two-bedroom apartment remembered in the family as the "roach house" after its other inhabitants, who outnumbered the Heathcocks by many fold. It was at this house that a cat burglar entered one night and took Clayton's wallet and watch. After only a few weeks in this unpleasant environment, they lived with Frances' brother Charles Lay for two weeks, with Clayton's relatives Henry and Ola Mae Stalls for two weeks, and then moved to Georgetown where they stayed with Grace and Lowrey Foster, Frances' aunt and uncle, until their daughter Peggy Frances was born on September 24, 1945. After the birth, Frances and the three children remained in Georgetown for a few more months, while Clayton, Sr. continued to work in San Antonio.
In early 1946, Frances and the children returned to San Antonio and the family moved into an upstairs apartment on Main Avenue. Her brother Charles Lay and his family lived in a downstairs apartment in this same building. It was about this time that Clayton, Sr. began to experience serious trouble because of his alcoholism. The author's memories of this period reflect mixed emotions. On the one hand, there are many fond memories of play time with his brother Jim and his cousins Larry and Pat Lay. Many of these memories pertain to activities that took place in a large, abandoned, "haunted" house at the end of the block. Many games of hide-and-seek and treasure hunts took place in this charming old house. On the other hand, there were also many altercations between Clayton, Sr. and Frances, usually having to do with his coming home drunk.
In the summer of 1947, Clayton quit his job at the Plaza Hotel Laundry and the family moved to Georgetown. Clayton took a job managing the Troy Laundry, which had been purchased by Frances Heathcock's uncle, Charles E. Harris, in 1924. They lived in a frame house about two blocks from the home of Lowery and Grace Foster, Frances' aunt and uncle. The house stood on a large lot that sloped down to a creek. On the other side of the creek was an electrified fence that was intended to keep the neighbor's horses confined. Clayton, Jr. and Jimmy Heathcock spent countless hours building dams across the mud creek and for a time had two pet turtles, each about a foot in diameter, that were kept in the creek. It was in this large yard that the two boys also carried out their first experimented with electricity; they found that by holding a horse's mane and then grabbing hold of the electric fence with the other hand, they could pass a healthy jolt to the animal while not being shocked.
During the 1947-48 school year, Clayton, Jr. and Jimmy Heathcock went to school at the Georgetown Public School and attended church at the Georgetown Church of Christ, which was presided over by a "fire-and-brimstone" preacher, Ben West. The author remembers being baptized by Brother West in a baptistery below the platform upon which the pulpit stood. He also remembers having his first serious infatuation, with another sixth-grader whose name has been long forgotten. However, if anyone ever climbs a large oak tree that may still stand in the yard behind the Georgetown house where the Heathcocks lived in 1948, her initials will be found carved into the bark, well away from the view of prying eyes.
In the summer of 1948, on a Saturday afternoon, the Troy Laundry burned to the ground. There was a strong undercurrent of suspicion that Clayton, Sr. may have been responsible by carelessly disposing of a cigarette while drunk. The author recollects a highly strained atmosphere in the days following the fire, and the Heathcock family soon returned to San Antonio, where they took up residence at 805 Burleson Street. Clayton took a job with a new laundry only a few blocks away, initially named the Acme Laundry. The author remembers walking the neighborhood with his brother Jim handing out flyers advertising the new laundry. He also remembers the bitter winter of 1948 when the temperature dropped to near zero, causing widespread damage to water lines. Clayton, Sr. spent nearly all one night tending to the water pipes at the laundry, then named the Snowflake Laundry.
After leaving the laundry, Clayton, Sr. took work with Stille Auto Supply, where he was working when he died on February 28, 1950. This was obviously a traumatic period for Frances, a widow at age 35 with three children to raise alone. She took a short course to refresh her secretarial skills and on August 4, 1950, began work for the United States Army, as a clerk at the San Antonio General Depot. For the next nine years, she remained at this job, while moving her family through a series of different rental houses. During this period, Clayton, Jr. and Jim graduated from Brackenridge High School (1954 and 1957), Clayton, Jr. entered Abilene Christian College (1954) and married Mabel Ruth Sims (September 6, 1957).
On November 15, 1959, Frances left the San Antonio General Depot and took a job with Kelly Air Force Base as a materials clerk. Her second son, James Franklin Heathcock, married Marilyn Hoag on May 9, 1962. Peggy Frances Heathcock attended Highland Park High School, and graduated in 1964. Peggy entered Abilene Christian College in the fall of 1964, and graduated in 1968. While at Abilene, Peggy met and married Gary Seth Wood, on June 17, 1967.
Frances is remembered by her family and friends as a highly determined individual. As an example of this tenacity, on July 21, 1970, she decided to go on a diet. She had been overweight since her preteen years, and by 1970 tipped the scales at 237 pounds. She entered the Weight Watchers program and in 29 months had trimmed off 101 pounds. Indeed, she was so successful in the venture that she became a Weight Watchers teacher, a hobby that continued for a number of years.
In November, 1979, Frances began to suffer from fatigue and shortness of breath. A medical examination revealed that she suffered from congestive heart failure. On the advice of her physician, she applied for and was granted a disability retirement. Although she battled congestive heart failure for the next 15 years, Frances continued to lead a full and relatively active life. She lived in several apartments in the North Central section of San Antonio during this period of her life. She had an active church and social life and travelled to California to visit her children and grandchildren once or twice a year until 1991, when her physical condition deteriorated to such a degree that she could no longer travel. For the last few years of her life, Frances lived at The Inn at Los Patios, a very nice retirement community in San Antonio.
Frances was a long-time member of the Church of Christ. When she and her family first came to San Antonio, they belonged to the Denver Heights congregation, and later moved to the Highland Park congregation. In about 1980, shortly after her retirement, Frances moved to the Sunset Ridge Church of Christ, where she was a regular volunteer in a variety of charitable causes.
Frances Lay
d on September 25, 1994, at the age of 79. Her funeral service was conducted by Roy Osborn, a retired minister of the Sunset Ridge Church of Christ and a long-time friend. She is buried at Sunset Memorial Cemetery, alongside her husband, Clayton Howell Heathcock, and her parents, Jesse Lee Lay and Mabel Coral Harris Lay.
Notes for Frances Elizabeth Lay
The following narrative was written by Frances Lay Heathcock for her children and grandchildren in 1986-87.

November 19, 1986

Did you ever try to remember things that have happened in your life so that you can pass these things on to your children and grandchildren and let them see the good and bad times in your life and not be discouraged?

In April 1915, in a farm house in Georgetown, Tex, where my mother’s parents lived, I was born – the second child of Mabel & Jess Lay. Five years prior this time, on Oct 10, 1910, my brother Charles Marion was born, in the same house and the same bed that I was born in. Five years after I was born my sister Alice Virginia – affectionately called Ginger, was born on Nov 1, 1920 – in the same house – in the same bed. The bed was in the same corner of the room all the time. This is an accomplishment that I don’t think could happen this day & time.

Such stability was not passed on to me – I loved to move the furniture – about in the room – to another house. I got the title of the gypsey as I got older. After I married, my husband Clayton Sr. used to say he never would come into a dark house because you never knew where the furniture would be and he might fall & hurt himself.

Maybe I got my gypsey blood from my Dad because he moved us around quite a bit. We moved from the farm house in Georgetown, Texas to San Marcos, Texas where my dad was in the laundry business. I have vague memories of our lives in San Marcos & they were good ones. One thing I vaguely remember is we were getting ready to go someplace and I was already dressed. I found a pair of scissors and gave myself a haircut. I got a licking for that. I also remember Charles had a dog and we all loved him very much. One day the dog didn’t come to eat when we called him and we found him dead – run over by a car. We had a funeral for him, Spot was his name, and were very sad for days.

After San Marcos we moved to Lockhart when my Dad was still in the laundry business. All of this was prior to the time that Ginger was born on Nov 1, 1920. Mom had a habit of going back home to Grandma’s house to have her babies and that was what we did prior to Nov 1, 1920. Since my Dad stayed in Lockhart I slept with my Mom except one night my Aunt Grace = who lived with my grandparents – asked me to sleep in another bed. That night my little sister was born.

After Lockhart we moved to Bay City, Texas and there I started to school. We walked two miles to school each morning & evening back home. We came home for lunch but my Dad came in a Model T Ford to pick us up. One day I got in the car and as he shut the door to the car I didn’t move my hand quick enough and he shut the door on it. He told Charles to run on home & tell Mom what happened and he would take me to the doctor. While we lived in Bay City I remember the family doing lots of things together such as spending Christmas Day in the woods so my dad could go hunting. I remember the taste of the food – roasted duck on the outdoor grill. It was delicious. Also we went and picked berries to make jams & jelly. One winter we got the “itch” (I don’t know really what it was). We had to put some kind of salve made of sulphur & something else (molasses) & wear long underwear. We moved to San Antonio in 1921 from Bay City. My dad was still in the laundry business.

The reason we moved to San Antonio was for us to take care of my dad’s mother who had diabetes. In those days the treatment was different than it is today. Grandma Lay was on a strict diet and Mom was supposed to cook her food and keep her on the diet. This was impossible because Grandma would sneak sweet foods, which she was not allowed to have. There was lots of friction in the house on Essex Street. After a couple of years we moved to a small neighborhood on a street called Edinburg.

We lived on Edinburg for awhile and made friends in the neighborhood. One of my closest friends was a girl at church named Gladys Hicks. We visited in each others homes – spending the night etc.

We soon moved again to a place on McKinley St. By this time I was in high school – Brackenridge High School, and I walked to high school every day. I had a weight problem from the time I was about 8 years old. In my junior year my dad’s sister Aunt Yetta Tuschka, who was a librarian in Tucson, Arizona, knew of my weight problem so she sent me a diet – a 7 day diet that you used over and over. Mom helped me stay on the diet. I had Study Hall the last period at school so I did not eat my lunch until I got home. I lost some weight but was still plagued by the weight. I guess I was bulimic because I would eat and them stick my finger down my throat & get rid of it. I never had a date until we moved to La Vernia in 1932 and I dated some boys down there.

I had a good friend in La Vernia called Kathryn Smith. She was my Uncle Richard’s niece. Uncle Richard Wells was married to my dad’s sister Sally Bell Lay. Kathryn fell in love with Jack and they wanted to run off and get married and they wanted me & my date (I can’t even remember his name) to go with them. We went to Pleasanton or somewhere & they got married. All the way there my boy friend wanted me to marry him. But I didn’t.

I mentioned we were living in La Vernia in 1932. By that time my dad had been fired from his job as a salesman for a firm out of Ohio. He sold janitor supplies. He had a territory that took him away from home about 3 weeks of every month. Since this was the depression years my dad was the last person hired by his company, he was the first fired. He came home & set up a small company in our home. In our garage he made a mixture to throw on floors (for commercial use) and then sweep them. He took orders & mailed it to them. I helped him some by doing some of his paperwork.

He didn’t make very much money in those years and we could barely eat & we did not pay our rent for seven months. Finally, there was a place in La Vernia that had about 2 acres of land around it so my dad rented it for $8.00 a month. It had a wood stove to cook & head with. Kerosene lamps and no indoor water. We had an outdoor john & took baths in 10 gal galvanized tubs. We raised most of our own food. My dad & Uncle Richard killed a pig & we canned a lot of the meat. There was a large ham and we had no inside refrigerator – only a screened-in enclosure on the north side of the house where we kept things that needed to be kept cool. The ham went out there but it would not fit inside so it was put on top & covered with a clean cloth. Well, the next morning the ham was gone. The intruder was a large dog. The bone was found out by the fence. Of course the dog was well fed but we had to settle for the things we had canned. We fried sausage, packed it in sterile jars & poured hot hot grease over it and sealed it. There is a part of the pig called back strap that is very tender & delicious. This was canned in the same way and used on special occasions. We had chickens, cows and fruits & vegetables. I remember we had an abundance of butter & tried to sell it for 10 cents a pound. No one needed it. Everyone had their own.

It was in La Vernia that we bought flour in 25 lb bags. The bags were cotton flowered material and we used this material to make our clothes.

In La Vernia we did our ironing with irons that were heated on the wood stove. When I was 17, I was helping my mother iron my dads white shirts – and you had to be sure there was nothing on the iron to make black marks on the clothes.

Our entertainment was family styled. We played a game with cards called Rook or after dinner at night we sat on the front porch and talked and sang songs of the day. My dad liked to take the family in the car and we went to visit family and friends. La Vernia was his home town, but by the time we moved there the only ones left living there was Aunt Sally and Uncle Richard. We were able to have our car that we had when we lived in San Antonio because every day my dad & Charles & I went in to San Antonio to work & school. We took 3 other people that lived in La Vernia and worked in San Antonio and they payed the car expenses.

My mom always cooked a roast with vegetables for Sunday lunch. We went in every Sunday to Church & in San Antonio & when we came home we had the roast.

I graduated from high school in San Antonio in 1933. We moved back to San Antonio shortly after that. I tried to find a job but no one would hire me because I had no experience. I offered to work free to get experience but no one would let me. (While I was in high school I took typing, shorthand and business arithmetic.) After awhile my dad told me I had to get a job. He could no longer support me. He knew someone who worked at the San Antonio State Hospital so he took me out there and I got a job there in the latter part of 1933. My job was in the main dining room as a serving person. We served 1500 mentally ill people 3 times a day. At 5 o’clock every morning I was dressed & ready to go. (Oh, I forgot to say my job had my room on the third floor of the main building – furnished – as well as $30.00 a month – medical service – laundry service – not bad for 1933.) I had a large key ring with many keys on it that unlocked the doors between each of the cell blocks. Every time I went to the dining room – 3 times a day – I went through the wards & got the “trusties” (patients who could be trusted to not harm anyone) and take them to the dining room. When we got to the dining room we set the tables with heavy aluminum plates (sectional) and spoons. The first thing we put in their plates was syrup & then the rest of the food. Each person that worked in dining room oversaw the work the patients were doing. When the tables were ready they unlocked the doors and the ward attendants brought in the patients & stayed with them as guards until the meal was over.

This was when I met your dad. He was a ward attendant. After our 3 tours of duty each day – breakfast, lunch & dinner - we were on our own between meals until the next period. We did various things. The State Hospital was on So. Pressa Street – way out of town – so we would walk down the street to a small restaurant. I met these two new fellows one night when a bunch of us went out. It was Clayton and his friend Roland Reed. Well, I started Roland but it wasn’t long before “Tex”, as Clayton was called in those days, started asking me for dates and then I started going with him regularly and eventually we married. We run off and married because I was afraid of my dad and as we continued living at the hospital as we were before – each in his own room. In Dec 1935 my dad got real sick with a heart attack and they took him to the Nix Hospital. Those were trying times for me because I never told him I was married until just a little while before he died. He said Clayton looked like a good old boy. My Dad died on Dec 19, 1935. Since my Dad was so very ill there had been on preparation made for Xmas. We went back to the hospital after the funeral but came back home Xmas Eve. Mom surprised us. She bought a tree & she & Charles & Ginger had it decorated. She said “Pops”, as we called him, would want it that way.

Clayton Jr. was born July 21, 1936 and by that time we had moved to another house and Clayton & I were living there until after the baby came. A comparison of prices came to my mind when I think of the cost of having a baby in 1936. Clayton Sr. hid quarters under his underwear to pay the hospital, which was $24 for 3 days. We had enough money to pay the bill. The doctor bill for 8 months care & delivery was $35, which was paid for over the period of time I was under his care. Nine years later when Peggy was born we were living for awhile in Georgetown at Aunt Grace’s home since we die not have a place to live in San Antonio and it was close to the time for Peg to be born. (Clayton stayed in San Antonio and kept on working. As of now I don’t know where he lived while the boys & I were in Georgetown). To get back to the comparison of prices & inflation, I stayed in the hospital for 10 days that time and the cost was $105. Last year, 1986, I was in the hospital for 14 days with a circulation problem and the cost was $10,000. My haven’t things changed.

Jim was born 3 years later in 1939 at the same hospital. The name of the hospital was Physicians & Surgeons Hospital. It was called P&S Hospital.

Clayton Sr. was working for Plaza Hotel Laundry & he delivered laundry to the rich people that lived in Olmos Park. In those days he had to take the laundry to the back door & the Maids accepted it. Lots & lots of time the owner of the house had left no money with the maid to pay for the laundry and Clayton would leave the laundry & try to collect later. A lot of people never paid & he got far, far into the hole financially as he was responsible if he left laundry without receiving money. He had to pay it out of our money so he finally quit.

We moved to Stockdale in the early part of 1938 & lived with Nanny & Willie Heathcock – Clayton’s parents. They had a little building on the property that had been a filling station at one time & it had had the pumps removed & that was where we lived. Clayton had a good job stacking watermelons. That job was only during watermelon season and he made good money but it was the beginning of the end because he was down there with all his cronies & he drank a lot. He finally got a job at the Plaza Hotel Laundry again & we moved back to San Antonio. We started moving from one place to another. While we were living in Stockdale I met a friend named Johnnie. She was married to a young man named Lester Mays that was not very responsible & they had one son. His name was Larry Mays. She left him and moved into our house in San Antonio. She was working at a drug store on San Pedro & I would go and pick her up after work because she was afraid he was going to harm her. She finally divorced him & moved back to Stockdale. She later married a man named Harry Staggs and had two daughters. We remained close friends for many years & love it when se see each other now.

After Johnnie & Larry moved back to Stockdale we had a chance to move to a better location, about 3 blocks from where we lived. So we moved to 623 Ripley in 1939 and Jim was born on Aug 7, 1939.

My number 1 child – Clayton Jr. or “Little Tex” as we called him - was quite a character. He was the first grandchild on both sides & he was rather spoiled. In fact he was terrible at times & if you went to spank him he screamed so loud the neighbors thought we were abusing (a new word I’ve learned in recent years in respect to children’s misbehaving) him. One day after he had tried our patience Clayton said “Son, I’m going to take you 5 miles out in the country & give you the licking you really need.” After a spanking he sprouted “angel wings” for a few days and was as sweet & good as could be. Didn’t last long though.

As a result of his being so rotten, I was afraid to touch Jim, except for the necessary things required in raising a baby. It wasn’t long until he was such an angel in comparison to his big brother that used to say I wish Jim would do some bad things so it wouldn’t look as if I took it all out on Little Tex.

And Little Tex finally learned he could tell Jim to do things & he would – such as – he and Larry Lay would be playing & they would put Jim under the dining table & tell him to stay there until they came back for him & he would.

Every Thursday afternoon Clayton had the afternoon off from his job. [Narrative ends here]

May 29, 1987

It has been a long time since I have written and I have been thinking of things that happened in my live that I thought you would enjoy. It’s graduation time and it’s raining this morning which reminds me of Charles graduation night. The graduation ceremony (exercise we called it) was held in the Municipal Auditorium. In that day there were very few high schools in town so they (graduation exercises) were all held at the Auditorium. Well, we had a Ford touring car that Mom drove to the exercises. We left the car windows down and while we were inside we had a downpour & the car seats were all drenched. This was in 1926. Charles was 16 years old, since he had skipped one grade in school & his birthday was Oct 10 – he would have been 17. Here was never any thought of going to college at our house so Charles went to work in an architect office as a “go-fer”. He was called an office boy in that day.
Notes for Clayton Howell (Spouse 1)
Clayton Heathcock was born in a four-room frame cabin on a farm near Sutherland Springs, Texas on 10 September 1910.7 As a child he attended the Sutherland Springs school and, since it was some distance from the Heathcock farm, he rode a horse. This earned him the nickname "Tex" which he carried all his life. The high school for the part of Wilson County where the Heathcocks lived was in Stockdale, about ten miles from Sutherland Springs. Clayton Heathcock attended this school, graduating in 1928. While in high school, he was a member of the basketball team. After graduating, he worked in the Stockdale area, and the family moved to a house in Stockdale in the early 1930s. Stockdale is the center of a watermelon-producing region and, among the jobs that Clayton held in the early 1930s was that of "watermelon stacker" during the harvest season.
One of Clayton’s best friends in his high school years was Ted Earl Akin, his half-first cousin (their mothers were both daughters of Florence King, Ted’s from the marriage of Florence to her first husband, William Calvin Dawson, and Clayton’s from the marriage of Florence to her second husband, Pleasant Hobbs). Starting in 2004 and continuing for more than six years, I made personal contact with Ted Akin and enjoyed many conversations, some by personal visits to Ted and his wife Edith in Stockdale, and some by phone. Although Ted was in his 90s (and is approaching 99 as this paragraph is written on 4 March 2010), his memory is exceedingly sharp and he has given much detail about Clayton’s early life. According to Ted, Clayton was very, very popular in high school, liked by all for his sense of humor and his ability to make people laugh. He also told tales about his industry, including the summer when all of the high school boys were earning $1 per day for odd jobs and Clayton was earning $5 per day hauling cottonseed in an open pickup truck (this would have been in the early 1920s and I have no idea what pickup trucks were like then). He told of Clayton’s high school sweethearts, Lora Martin and Irene McGee, whose father owed a grocery store in Stockdale. Edith recalled that she and Ted double-dated with Clayton and Lora Martin. When asked what he and Clayton did that was “naughty,” he said shooting dice and moving the outhouse at Halloween. And then, with a twinkle in his eye, he said “Well, I can’t tell you all the naughty things we did.”10
One of Clayton’s good friends in his teen years was Ray Smith, brother of Edith Smith, who eventually married Clayton’s cousin Ted Akin. When he was a relatively young boy, Ray Smith experienced a very high fever that persisted for some days. This apparently caused some neurological disorder because Ray gradually lost his muscle strength, so that eventually he could not walk and he had to use both hands to perform many simple operations, such as combing his hair. Ray worked as the weigh clerk at the local feed store and the author of this genealogy still recalls that in the 1940s, when he would visit his grandparents in Stockdale, Clayton Sr. would always visit his friend Ray Smith at the feed store. I recall times when my father would take Ray Smith on his back and carry him to the car so that we could drive into town for lunch.
In 1935 Clayton left home and moved to San Antonio, some 35 miles from Stockdale, and took a job as ward helper in the San Antonio State Hospital. It was there that he met Frances Elizabeth Lay, a twenty-year old native of Georgetown, who worked in the kitchen. Clayton and Frances developed a relationship that resulted in Frances becoming pregnant in late 1935. They were married in Hondo, Texas on 12 December 1935. However, in order to maintain an outward appearance of propiety, they told family and friends that they had eloped and were married on Clayton’s birthday, 10 September 1935. The young couple settled in San Antonio and a son, named Clayton Heathcock Jr., was born on 21 July 1936.
In San Antonio Clayton took a job with the Plaza Hotel Laundry running a pickup and delivery route. However, these were still depression times and he was soon forced to abandon this job because so many of his customers were unable to pay their bills on time. In early 1937 he moved his wife and infant son to Dallas where he obtained a job selling home appliances on a commission basis. This enterprise was equally unfruitful and, after six months, the family returned to his family home in Stockdale. For the next year, the young family survived on what money Clayton could earn doing odd jobs, including another stint as watermelon-stacker during the Fall harvest.
After the Fall harvest of 1938, the Heathcocks returned to San Antonio and Clayton obtained a job with a Texaco service station. This was the first of many similar jobs that he held over the next twelve years, including: night watchman for the San Antonio Gas and Electric Company, bus driver, manager of two laundries, a second (more successful) turn as route man for the Plaza Hotel Laundry, and salesman for Stille Auto Supply Store. In this period he acquired and drove one of the early version Model T Ford automobiles. Clayton Heathcock Sr. and Frances Lay had three children.
Beginning in the mid-1940s Clayton Heathcock developed a serious alcohol problem, which was brought about partly by the decade of frustration he had experienced in finding and keeping employment during the post-depression period. In 1947 the family moved to Georgetown, in Williamson County, Texas, where Clayton took the job of manager of the Harris Laundry, an establishment owned by Frances Heathcock's uncle Edward Harris. In the summer of 1948, the laundry burned to the ground. Clayton had been at the laundry on the Saturday when the fire occurred, and there was some suspicion that he had been drinking before the fire began. He was not charged with accidentally starting the fire, but there was considerable ill will among the Harris family and it was generally believed that, at the very least, the fire might not have got out of hand had he been sober. In any event, the fire marked the end of another job, and the Heathcocks returned to San Antonio.
On 28 February 1950 Clayton Heathcock was involved in an altercation in the Alta Mira bar, in West San Antonio. In the course of the incident, he was struck on the head with a blunt instrument and killed. His assailant, one Artimo G. Cantu, the bartender of the establishment, was arrested and booked for murder. Some twenty other persons in the bar at the time were also rounded up by the police as material witnesses. However, all testified to the police that they had not witnessed the affair. Cantu was subsequently released and never brought to trial.11 Clayton Heathcock is buried in a family plot at the Sunset Memorial Cemetery, Austin Highway and Redmond Road, in San Antonio.
Last Modified 3 Jan 2016Created 28 Jun 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh
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