Both Harley and Floye were born during the administration of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States and Floye died during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. Utah, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico became states before Harley died, and Alaska and Hawaii achieved statehood two years later. The population of the United States in 1900 was just over 76 million, but by 1977 the population had grown to some 220 million persons or roughly tripling in their lifetimes.
Transportation changed from Horse and buggy to the automobile. The airplane was invented and Floye flew on jet airliners before her death. Sputnik orbited the earth just 6 months after Harley died, and Floye was able to see the lunar landing in 1969.
Their lives also encompassed a number of other remarkable events, including:
- The Spanish-American War
- The sinking of the Titanic (1912)
- Passage of Constitutional Amendments XVI-XXVI
- Federal Income Tax ratified, Amendment XVI (1913)
- World War I
- Prohibition and its later repeal, Amendments XVIII & XXI (1919, 1933)
- Right of women to vote in Federal elections, Amendment XIX (1920)
- Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic to Paris (1927)
- The Great Depression
- World War II
- The beginning of the atomic age
- The beginning of the Cold War
- The development of effective antibiotics
- Beginnings of Social Security and Medicare
- The Korean War
- The development of the polio vaccine
- The beginning of Rock and Roll
- The beginning of the construction of the Interstate Highway System
- The Vietnam War
- The assassinations of two Presidents: McKinley and Kennedy
- The assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy
- The passage of Civil Rights legislation
- Entertainment inventions: movies, radio, television, recorded music
- The beginning of computer technology
Harley and Floye always seemed affluent. He had the persona of a respected and well known veterinarian, and she was a respected Sunday School teacher and housewife. Both were leaders in the St. Charles community for many years. I don't recall hearing any 'poor' stories about their lives during the Great Depression; I suppose Harley's job always meant access to the local food supply around St. Charles even if the farmer's could not always pay him. I doubt they paid for any post-secondary studies for their children, but certainly Kenneth, Doyle, and Nadine were always welcome to live at the family home well beyond their high school graduations.
Harley was always known to me as 'Granddad', although others called him 'doc.' He was a handsome man, I think, but his demeanor seemed somehow stem, though I suspect that he probably had a great sense of humor. One time when I was staying at the house in Des Moines, a neighborhood boy and I trimmed the evergreen tree beside the garage behind the house, mimicking a tree service we had seen working several houses down. Grandmother was alarmed when she saw what we had done and warned me that Granddad would be upset. At dinner that night, all I can remember was that Granddad was not mad; in fact, he was smiling or laughing. Perhaps he was smiling at my obvious fear of what I thought he might say or do. Another time I remember that his son Doyle had brought a long-playing record that he put on Harley's high-fidelity phonograph. The record was a collection of radio bloopers, and everyone was laughing at the mistakes.
One other remembrance of "doc" involves the New York Yankees. My father, mother, brother, and I were at my grandparents for dinner in the fall of 1956. I am sure this must have been on a Sunday, since my father never would have left work on a Saturday. The World Series was on the television, and the Yankees were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers. Granddad was enjoying his cigars, and Yankee pitcher, Don Larsen, pitched a perfect game. It was an exciting day!
Kenneth Garrett, Harley's grandson, recalled Harley as being larger than life. Ken was proud of him and the fact that he was the State Veterinarian, remembering that he was very impressive when Ken visited him at his office at the capital building. Some of Ken's other reminiscences included:
- liked to use the terms 'hicks' meaning low class and 'hon yacks' meaning a jerk. I was called a hick once for eating my bacon with my fingers.
- liked to tease. One time when I stayed there he had purchased a sheepskin bicycle seat cover and showed it to me and said it was for him.
- really was into Friday night fights (boxing) and Saturday night wrestling.
- politically far to the right, e.g., he felt zoning was communistic and Roosevelt (FDR) was head communist.
I do not ever remember Granddad being ill, so his death was quite a surprise to me. Although I had been exposed to the deaths of several other relatives, his death was much more memorable since I was nearly ten at the time and had been with him on many occasions. I remember the large numbers of persons who attended the several funeral services for him. Of course, I had no idea of his status in the community and had assumed that only his family would have known that he had died. I also recall the overwhelming sadness of my Grandmother Floye. Perhaps it was the suddenness of Harley's death or perhaps there was a difference in expectations, but I recall no ' celebration' of his life and his life's accomplishments, which were considerable.
Just as Harley was always 'Granddad', Floye was always 'Grandmother.' I have no idea how that more formal name originated, though, since her letters to me were usually signed 'Grandma' or 'Grandma G'. I remember her as being slender, and there was always concern within the family as to whether she was eating enough, especially after Harley died. I never saw her smoke or drink. She did drink Pepsi Cola, I suppose, since bottles of Pepsi were usually in the refrigerator along with bottled water.
As far as I know, Floye never worked outside the home, and I never got the impression that she assisted Harley with his veterinary practice. She did love telling about the farmer who could not pay the vet bill, but instead gave Harley a gooseberry pie for his services. While their children had cats and dogs as pets when they were growing up, Harley and Floye did not have pets when they lived in Des Moines. I suppose that grandchildren were enough. Besides, the big German shepherd Louie from next door was probably enough, too.
I am not aware that she drove much, since the Oldsmobile was given or sold to Doyle Garrett shortly after Harley died. The issue of having a driver's license, however, was another matter. It seemed to be an important matter to her so that she kept it as long as possible.
Whenever I stayed with her in Des Moines, I was usually out playing with neighborhood kids. Grandmother's idea of doing something together was to ride the curb liners (buses powered by overhead electric lines) around Des Moines. The novelty wore off pretty quickly, I suppose, even for someone like me who lived in a small town. We never made it to the end of the line and back, and I think she was probably disappointed since she would bring it up from time to time later on. The buses were probably her way of travel and she wanted to share that experience with me.
When I stayed with her, I had to have a nightlight. She would take the light bulb out of the lamp on the nightstand and put in a green light bulb. It is a little known fact that monsters are repelled by green light. Floye's grandson Kenneth L. Garrett remembers being a passenger in the grocery truck that would take him from Lorimor to St. Charles to stay with his grandparents. Bedtime Bible stories were also a nighttime ritual when staying overnight.
Grandmother was a chronicler of life's events with her diaries and her recall of relatives' names and dates. Because of her, I became interested in recording some of the family information, fearing that it would otherwise be lost when she died. Though Floye wrote frequently, I cannot recall her reading books other than her Bible.
She wrote lots of letters mostly on a small portable Smith Corona typewriter and, I think, had a special interest in missionaries doing work in Africa. I suppose she helped them financially as well as sending them letters. In fact her daughter Nadine tried to rein in that spending in the last years of her life, since she was running out of money. Religion seemed to mean a lot to Floye, since Grandmother gave me several Bibles when I was growing up and she attended church regularly and taught Sunday school for years. I still have the Bibles, since they are inscribed by her own hand.
My sense is that Floye was an intelligent woman who had a life-long appreciation for language. One of her daily routines was to read the newspaper, particularly a newspaper column by Gordon Gammack that often contained gossipy snippets. Also she would complete a word game that required her to make as many words as she could out of a long word. She would compare her list with a list of words that were printed in the newspaper the following day.
In her later years, she seemed awfully frail, though she always appeared slender. She was very meticulous about her appearance, and I never recall seeing her in pants or trousers. I did not see her again after she moved to Arizona.
Floye lived over 20 years longer than her husband Harley and probably outlived most of her friends. Her life spanned the expansion of travel from the covered wagon, to the automobile, to airplane travel, to jet airplanes, and to the space age with the landing on the moon in 1969. A piece of homemade furniture that was carried across the country in a covered wagon was in the possession of Craig Garrett. She also lived during the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam Conflict, and most of the Cold War. Her father-in-law, Charles Robert Garrett, and both maternal and paternal grandfathers served in the Civil War, while a grandson, Dennis Garrett, served in Vietnam.
In contrast to her husband's funeral, Floye's funeral was a family affair. Most of her contemporaries had died or would not have been able to attend because of distance or health. I have always felt sad about that for some reason and have wondered if she would rather have died 20 years earlier and had a larger collection of family and her many friends to mourn her passing. She also mentioned being concerned that she had lived a number of years since her husband Harley had died and that she might not be attractive to him anymore. She did have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, and she seemed to make friends easily. In reality she had been "nomadic" in the last fifteen years of her life, moving away from her home and church in Des Moines and living in three geographically different places.
Since my maternal grandmother died in 1938 and grandfather in 1955, Harley and Floye occupied a unique position as I was growing up, particularly since they lived nearby. They introduced me to family history and served as a focal point for meeting relatives, especially my cousins, aunts, and uncles. They also brought with them exposure to sadness and deaths of loved ones. But I remember them with affection and with thanks for sharing the events of their lives.