1947-1977: Harley and Floye

Harley and Floye Garrett, undated photos Probably about 1950

Harley and Floye Garrett, undated photos
Probably about 1950

In September 194 7 Harley was appointed the Chief of the Department of Animal Industry (AKA State Veterinarian of Iowa), a political position that he occupied until his death in 1957. He was appointed to that position by Harry D. Linn (1 900-1978), then Secretary of Agriculture, and succeeded C. C. Franks. Harley was a lifelong Republican, and he and Floye voted straight Republican at the time of elections. I am not aware that he was otherwise active in the Republican Party. It would seem, though, that he had the necessary political and experience credentials to fill the office to which he was appointed.

Harley's wooden nameplate, presumably from his desk at the state capital.

Harley's wooden nameplate, presumably from his desk at the state capital.

As State Veterinarian, Harley was credited with stamping out the 1953 attack of vesicular exanthema, a highly contagious swine disease, as well as control brucellosis in swine. He traveled extensively throughout the country to attend relevant livestock conventions as well as in-state conventions. In office as Chief of the Department of Animal Husbandry, he was one the judges of the Veishea Open House m the Division of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa.

Anecdotally, Kenneth Garrett, his son, remarked several times on driving through Iowa farmlands and on smelling the odor of hogs that it was the smell of money.

He had his office on the first floor of the ornate state capital building in Des Moines, Iowa. His secretary was Maxine Thomas (1918-1977). Floye later wrote that Maxine was of great support after Harley's death.

For awhile, Harley would commute daily from St. Charles to Des Moines, but on November 1, 1947, they moved to an apartment at 3221 West Grand Avenue in Des Moines while keeping their house in St. Charles. For some reason, they moved out of the apartment and back to their old home in St. Charles on Saturday, April 23, 1949.

Harley and Floye then bought a house at 2016 E. 35th Street on September 15, 1949, for $14,700. The house was a two-story brick structure with two bedrooms and a bath on the first floor along with a dining room, living room with a fireplace and a rather small kitchen. The second floor was largely finished but open, being used as another bedroom and storage area. The basement was partially finished, and Harley added a fairly primitive second bathroom there. The single-car garage was not attached to the house. A small garden area was also present in the back yard. It was not until Tuesday, October 25, 1949, that they actually moved into the house.

2016 35th Street Des Moines, Iowa, 1989

2016 35th Street
Des Moines, Iowa, 1989

Harley enjoyed smoking cigars. He collected antique guns as a hobby and made some small wooden frames and things. I remember seeing a wooden two oxen yoke in the basement of their Des Moines home. Several of the guns once in his collection are now in the possession of one of his grandsons, Kenneth L. Garrett. The other guns were sold off after his death. Harley and Floy(e) belonged to the Westminster United Presbyterian Church in Des Moines.

Harley U. Garrett, posing with pistol Undated photo, probably before 1948 Likely taken at his office in St. Charles, Iowa

Harley U. Garrett, posing with pistol
Undated photo, probably before 1948
Likely taken at his office in St. Charles, Iowa

Harley's last car was a 1955 two-tone Oldsmobile, and it seemed like quite a luxurious car to an 8 year-old boy-my age at the time. However, the neighbor across the street had a Cadillac with electrically operated windows. After Harley's death, the Oldsmobile passed to his younger son Doyle.

The image above is not the actual car or the correct color, but is similar in general appearance.

The image above is not the actual car or the correct color, but is similar in general appearance.

Harley and Floye Garrett with grandchildren, probably 1956, Des Moines, Iowa Front Row L-R: Barbara Ann Kunz, Dennis Garrett, Craig Garrett, Richard Kunz Back Row L-R: David and Judith Garrett, Harley and Floye Garrett, Kenneth Garrett

Harley and Floye Garrett with grandchildren, probably 1956, Des Moines, Iowa
Front Row L-R: Barbara Ann Kunz, Dennis Garrett, Craig Garrett, Richard Kunz
Back Row L-R: David and Judith Garrett, Harley and Floye Garrett, Kenneth Garrett

Harley died on Tuesday, April 2, 1957, Des Moines, Polk Co., Iowa, at the age of 64 about two weeks after suffering a heart attack. He was still serving as the State Veterinarian at the time. (He may have been a victim of lard sandwiches and his wife cooking with lard as well as his smoking. He was not overweight, but he also never exercised.) After prayer services in the Hamilton Funeral Home, Des Moines, services were held in the Christian Church in St. Charles, Iowa, with burial in Moon Cemetery, Macksburg, Madison Co., Iowa. At the time of his death, Harley was the last surviving child of Charles and Catherine Garrett.

Harley U. Garrett, D.V.M About 1956

Harley U. Garrett, D.V.M
About 1956

At the time of his death, condolences were received from nine different state veterinary offices, several national veterinary organizations, including the alumni association of the Kansas City Veterinary College. Several letters were also received from around the State of Iowa and from the Division of Veterinary Medicine of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

Clyde S. Spry (1889-1961) was the Secretary of Agriculture at the time of Harley's unexpected death. Harley was succeeded as Chief, Division of Animal Industry, by A. L. Sundberg. Several years later Floye used her connections with Clyde Spry to get her grandson Kenneth a summer job at the state chemical lab.

Some time after Harley died, there was discussion that he had left some $6,000 to his widow. He apparently did not want his widow to be much better off after his death, although I do not know what $6,000 in 1957 would in today's figure. Anyway, Floye was not left a wealthy woman, and I do not remember her traveling much after Harley's death except to visit family. Finances were a concern, especially later in her life.

Harley's death brought much sadness to Floye, especially at the time of his death. Kenneth Garrett, their grandson, remembered that she loved to talk about Harley and always used very favorable terms. Ken felt like Harley had achieved sainthood in Floye's conversations. (Perhaps much like Livia Soprano's recollections of her late husband Johnny, though I do not recall Floye ever commenting on how she gave everything to her children on a silver platter.)

Floye was very active in the Church of Christ in St. Charles, Iowa, where she taught a junior Sunday school class for 28 years. She was later active in the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Des Moines. She was a frequent contributor to missionaries around the world. Her generosity became a source of future financial concern.

Granddaughter Judith Garrett Hatfield wrote, "I believe that Floye visited almost all of the states. I also understand that she kept a 'dry' home-if Harley wanted a beer he had to go to the cellar ... that may be hearsay, though. Our visits were limited to summer vacations every 3 years, and, later, when Floye's travels took her our way." Floye apparently visited all of the states, except Alaska.

Floye collected elephants for many years and one time had more than 200 elephants in her collection. Although she was active as a Republican committeewoman, her collection started when she purchased a "cute" elephant when traveling with the wife of federal veterinarian who collected dog miniatures. Floye and her elephant collection were featured in an article in the Des Moines Tribune while she was living in Colfax. She is pictured holding one of her elephants for the article entitled, "Carved Figure-'Work of Love.'" The article was written by Herb Owens for an ongoing series of Iowa stories called Along the Way. The Des Moines Tribune was an afternoon newspaper that ceased publication in 1982.

Floye enjoyed traveling, particularly by air. Her first trip occurred when Harley paid $5 to a barnstorming pilot at St. Charles. By the end of her life she had flown in a Boeing 747. For all her traveling she seems to have not traveled beyond North America, except for Hawaii.

Floye had a "surprise" drawer in a desk in the dining room of the house in Des Moines where a grandchild could reach in and pull out a small toy or gift. It was in a bottom drawer easily reached by small children. When the grandchildren would stay overnight, she would tell bedtime Bible stories before they went to sleep.

Floye was had a remarkable memory for dates and names and was responsible for getting Craig Garrett, her grandson, interested in genealogy. She was an inveterate letter writer and used a pink manual Smith-Corona typewriter for many years. Floye kept a diary for many years, chronicling the events in her life, both mundane and momentous. The diaries are currently in the possession of Craig Garrett.

Floye Garrett, undated photo

Floye Garrett, undated photo

Several years after the death of her husband, Floye moved to an apartment in Colfax, Jasper Co., Iowa, in about 1962 where her eldest son Kenneth and his family lived. She later lived apartment #219 at 3401 Colfax A venue South in Minneapolis, Hennepin Co., Minnesota, before she moved to Sun City, Maricopa Co., Arizona, in 1976. The latter two places were close to her daughter, Nadine Garrett Kunz.

While Floye lived in the apartment on Colfax Avenue that she introduced her oldest grandchild Kenneth L. Garrett to his future wife Kathleen Rose Buysse in the hallway of the apartment building. Ken recalled:

I probably spent more time with Kathy down the hall at her apartment than I should have, but Grandmother never complained. She had a shower for Kathy when we were going to get married. Everything was fine until the day of the wedding and it was at the Catholic Church in Tracy (Minnesota). She (Floye) refused to get out of the car and to into the church. Nadine said okay, I'll see you after the wedding. I wasn't there but Nadine said she had never moved Grandmother so fast to get out of the car and get into the church. Bottom Line, Grandmother loved Kathy in spite of the fact that she was Catholic.

Floye Garrett, about 1976

Floye Garrett, about 1976

It is appropriate to include Floye's last diary entry written on Monday, April 25, 1977:

Grl (sic) brought my breakfast on the tray, but the sitter, Lois, took me to the dining room at noon. I ate a half-slice of toast and a cup of coffee. Food doesn't appeal to me at all. I called Nadine. She said she would be (?) at 3 this P.M., but Lois stayed until 3 :30 and left. I am so short of breath.

Floye died one month later on Tuesday, May 25, 1977, at nearly 85 years of age in Sun City, Maricopa Co., Arizona, with services held at Dunn's Funeral Home, Des Moines, Iowa, with burial at Moon Cemetery, Macksburg, Iowa. At the time of her death, Floye had seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Three half-brothers and one half-sister also survived at the time of her death.

On the day of her death, the Brady Bunch Hour last aired on ABC-TV, and the original Star Wars movie (strangely labeled at the time as part IV) was released.

Cemetery Marker, Moon Cemetery Macksburg, Madison County, Iowa

Cemetery Marker, Moon Cemetery
Macksburg, Madison County, Iowa

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