Posted by Eve on October 3, 2010
It seems that every change in my life, both good and bad, has been about a man. From the time I was a tiny girl I remember how important boys/men were to me. I guess I was a pretty unhappy child, after we moved to Eads, Colorado (The city to me) from Hartman, Colorado, in the country. I don’t really know why even now, but the closest I can figure out is that I wanted more then I saw in the environment I was growing up in, and I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to get it. So–I attended every movie we had in our little town of Eads. I couldn’t “afford” this, so I cleaned the theater after every showing, and my pay was a ten cent show ticket to see a movie once a week. They didn’t show a movie every night. The town was only 700 people and most of the “customers” for our town’s businesses, were people from the country who only came to town once a week for supplies. That was the night the movie theater was filled. My life was a fantasy in my mind. I was adopted and I made myself a kind of laughing stock among the other kids, by telling them that I was the love child of Sonja Henie, (remember her) the championship ice skater who was now a movie star, and Richard Greene, who I thought was the best looking man on earth. He was an English actor and played Robin Hood in several movies, and was in “Forever Amber” too. Everything I did was geared to the fantasy world I lived in. I learned about life reading books like Modern Romance. (Years later I met a woman who was a writer for all those romance magazines and wrote several stories a month for several of the publications. “MADE UP” stories. I was crushed, even as an adult.) We were very poor. My Dad was a veteran of the First World War, who had been gassed in battle in France and had been sick ever since. He seldom worked and Mom sewed clothes at the WPA sewing room, for $10. a week. This is what we lived on. Dad spent most of his time in the hospital, either in Denver at Fitzsimmons, or at Black Mountain, I believe it was called, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. So the fantasy world I lived in, was much happier and it was glamorous too.
Well, reading the romance magazines that I was able to borrow from girlfriends made me aware of boys and love at a very early age. I had boyfriends, always much older than me, from the time I was very young, like 10 or 11, on. My bust size was 38 when I was 9, so I was being noticed by the men, not just the boys. When I was 10 a man named Paul Zygmunt offered my father money to marry me, he would wait until I was a few years older, but he would give him the money right away. Paul Zygmunt was from a European country, where they still did such things. My father said “No” to the deal, but it could have been a hard thing to handle, had he agreed.
I had several girlfriends who liked me, even with my weird ways and fantasies. Two of them were sisters, who lived out in the country, a few miles from Eads. They were Grace and Dorothy Sweeney. The Sweeney’s were a big family and there were three brothers living at home, Bruce, Clifford, and the youngest one, Clarence. Dorothy and Grace used to invite me to come home with them on the bus for a sleep over. Their house had big cracks in the roof, and when we went to sleep in the winter time the snow would come through the holes in the roof and our quilt would be covered with snow in the morning. Like most farms, in those days, the barn was great, no holes there. The ANIMALS were valuable and had to be cared for. One night when I was “sleeping” over with the sisters, Dorothy, the one who was in my grade at school, told me her brother was home from Denver for a visit. She said he never dated anyone except NURSES from Denver. Even though I was barely 13 years old, this was like holding a red blanket in front of a bull. A challenge, to me!! The “boys” were after me all the time. So I made up my mind that I would soon have a date with this older brother who only dated nurses. As it happened we were immediately attracted to each other, though he was 25 and I was 13. Of course at my age I was attracted to the idea of having an older boyfriend, but at that age I really didn’t know what I was.
We dated while he was with his family, and he took me to see the movie “Gone With The Wind.” Our first date. I was not completely naive’ but because we had kissed and had come close to having sex, I thought we had had sex. So, when I was late with my period the following month, my mother, who was “greener” about things sexually then I was, decided that I was pregnant and she along with the school nurse, (my Dad was on one of his periodic trips to Cheyenne, Wyoming Veterans Hospital) went to the sheriff of Eads and told him that I should be sent away to the reform school/home for bad girls, in Morrison, Colorado, just outside of Denver. I was terrified.
My parents had friends who lived in the country near Eads, named Ruby and Dwight Van Huss. I told Ruby what my mother was planning and that I HAD to get to see Ray Sweeney, the father,( if there was going to be a father,) of my child, to let him know what was happening. The next day she and Dwight put me on a train to Denver, gave me a few dollars and I went to find my lover. I got to Denver and took busses and street cars and finally arrived at the place that Ray was staying. In the meantime my mother had contacted my dad and he had been in the hospital with another veteran whose home was in Denver, and they arranged for me to stay with his family. After I saw Ray he told me that we had done nothing that could have possibly made me pregnant. So shortly after I arrived in Denver, and after all the tension was a little less, I started my period. My mother had never wanted me, when they adopted me at 6 months from an orphanage in Wichita, Kansas, but my Dad insisted, and told her that either they would adopt a child, or he would divorce her and marry someone who could give him a child. She hated ME for this, I realize now, so now that she had an opportunity to have me out of her hair she pursued it. I had gone out to Lowry Air Force Base in Denver and even at age 13, I got a job working in the PX (Post Exchange). At that time, just before the war started, the Post Exchanges were still owned by private parties, and the owner of this one was a Chinese man named Johnny Wong. I told him my age, but I guess I was somewhat of a “looker” in those days, and certainly could pass for much older. So he hired me and I even served 3.2 beer to the servicemen there.
Well, one day shortly after I got my job, my mother along with Butch Woods, the sheriff of Eads, came driving up to where I was staying with Dad’s friends and said they were taking me to Morrison, the home for bad girls. Ray happened to be there visiting me when they came, and he asked Butch where his warrant from Denver County was. He was the sheriff in Kiowa County but didn’t have authority in Denver County. I SHOWED the Sheriff the evidence of my not being pregnant, and he and my mother had to drive back to Eads without their mission being accomplished. My Dad had given permission for me to be where I was, my Mother wasn’t going to buck him, and say that I couldn’t stay, when the people I was living with pointed out to them that my Dad had agreed to me being there, and this sheriff of Kiowa County had no jurisdiction in Denver County. Because of my Dad’s consent the people where I was staying backed them not taking me back to Eads, either. So I stayed where I was, and with Ray nearby.
When my Dad was released, once again, from the hospital he and my mother made the move to Denver from Eads, and I moved back to their newly rented home in Denver. When September came, I started high school. I had graduated in Eads in May 1941, from the 8th grade, and began high school at West High in Denver. My parents had little money. Dad couldn’t work so mother got a job at Fitzsimmons Veterans Hospital, and Ray asked to rent a room in our house. So the folks rented him the spare bedroom, and he ended up paying most of the bills and buying all of the food for the whole family. He was working in construction, building for the Federal Government, so he had a good job for those days.
On October 14, 1941 Ray was off work, due to a snow storm that had left the ground wet and they couldn’t work, and he arranged to spend the day with his buddy and the buddy’s wife, Dick & Rose Lewis, out drinking and shooting pool. I wanted to go with them, so for the first time in my life, I totally disobeyed my Dad and played hooky. I was terrified of what my dad would do when he found out I had played hooky, and Dick and Rose mentioned that the weekend before this a little girl 9 years old had gotten married in Raton, New Mexico. So–I asked Ray what about us going and getting married. I had been wearing his engagement ring for months and making the kids in school jealous, because I was wearing a diamond from a MAN, not a boy, and planned to marry “someday.” Well, I figured someday better be now, or I’d get killed when I got home for playing hooky from school, so off the four of us drove to Raton, New Mexico. The boys stayed in one room at the hotel and we “girls” stayed in another. We got up in the morning and we went down for breakfast. Suddenly I had my first day of “morning sickness” and an observation by my friend Rose that this marriage was probably a good idea, after all. This October 15th was going to be our wedding day. We shopped for a pretty dress for me to be married in, of course I didn’t even have a toothbrush with me, nor did anyone else. Perhaps I was the only one who was sober when we started this trip. We went to the courthouse to get a license and to get married. I will never forget the JP who married us. His name was Oscar Ketchum. For many years I thought the name ‘Ketchum’ really fit the situation I was in. Marrying at age 13 was no problem at all. We were soon man and wife. After the ceremony we all piled back into the car for the drive back to Denver. Rose made me call my parents , (we didn’t have a phone so I had to call them at a neighbors house) and I told them we had gotten married. My Dad was furious, threatened to put Ray in jail for taking a minor over the state line for immoral purposes, but when we got home he said to me, “My punishment for you is that you will stay married to this man. This will be the worst punishment you could ever have. He was right!! This was my first life change because of two men, in this case, my father and my now husband. By the way, this pregnancy was the first of many miscarriages I had. Perhaps God thought I wasn’t ready to be a mother yet. But 10 ½ months later I gave birth to my first born. I was 14!! This marriage lasted 17 years and produced three children, so at 17, I was the mother of three. My life has had many changes, as we all have had, through the years, but this 13 year old’s mistake turned out wonderfully well with children that I am so very proud of. We lost my son at age 32, but my two girls are both grandmother’s which makes me a great grandmother, and so proud of my four greats!! Children that will help to make the world a better place, so everything that happened was part of God’s design, that I was allowed to participate in.