Friday, February 29, 2008

Beginning His Teaching Career

Salary Notice - August 25, 1948

Pre-Graduate Teaching Permit, 1948

When the school year began in September 1948, I taught physical education at Minnequa Elementary School in District #60 under Julia Braun, principal. My salary notice from the district dated 25 August 1948 reports that I would be paid $2,000 for the school year! I also received my Colorado State Pre-graduate Permit for teaching in any elementary public school in the state of Colorado. It was valid for one year only. In November I helped with conditioning basketball players at Pueblo Junior College and decided that I didn’t want to coach, but preferred to teach elementary school.

6th grade class at Minnequa -- Spring 1951

At the end of February 1951 I was discharged (from the Navy for the second time) and sent home. I went to the school district, as they had told me I had a job when I got back. I was supposed to have started teaching 3rd grade in September, 1951, so, I was put on as a permanent substitute until there was a job available. I substituted mainly in the old building east of Pueblo on Highway 96 at the Belle Plain School, which the district had taken over from a small school district. That assignment lasted for a few weeks until a 6th grade assignment opened up when Glen Filer, 6th grade teacher at Minnequa School, was drafted into the Army and I was given his position. I taught this class to finish up the school year. It was a pretty good class, and I knew most of the kids from my days of teaching Physical Education and student teaching previously. I still had a couple of classes and a summer’s work plus one more class before I got my BA in Elementary Education the following December. So in addition to my teaching, I was also taking classes by correspondence.

3rd Grade class - Fall 1951

I taught 3rd grade at Minnequa for the next two years. About half of the class lived in the Minnequa area, and the other half was bussed in from Salt Creek, which was a Mexican community, very poor for the most part, and the housing was very sub-standard. We had some neat kids from this area, but many were at a severe handicap because of the language in most cases.

As we all know, Dad had a long and rewarding career in elementary education which provided personal satisfaction as well as a comfortable retirement. He had many stories to tell about students as well as fellow teachers. Those that he recorded will be posted here in the future.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Church Membership

Mable Elsa Davis Butler
outside the LDS Church at the corner of 7th Street and Fountain

Sometime in 1928 or 1929, my mother was approached by Sister Maude Myers who lived just down the street from us at 1822 East 5th Street. Maude had a son, Jack, who played with me. Sister Myers was housing some LDS missionaries, but she worked at a restaurant out on Highway 50 and needed help feeding them sometimes. Mother agreed to provide some of their meals. As Mother got to know the missionaries, she listened to the discussions and readily agreed with all the missionaries taught. She had been attending the Baptist Church in the 1300 block of East 5th Street, but one Sunday when Eldon was fussing the minister asked her to take him outside. She did, and she never returned!

Mable singing in church

On August 10, 1929, Mother was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was an active member the rest of her life. Mother loved to sing and she got the opportunity right away after her baptism. She sang in the little chapel at the corner of 7th Street and Fountain Avenue just across the street from Fountain Elementary. While Mother was listening to the discussions, Dad would go down to his sleeping room in the basement, a room he used to get his rest when trying to sleep in the daytime when he worked nights.

However, without Grandma Mable knowing, Jess was meeting with the missionaries on the sly! He was baptized three years later. She recorded the following:

"One of the greatest days of my life was the second of Aug 1932. Elder Watts was boarding & rooming with us & was to hold Baptizmal [sic] services at 4 o'clock. I had talked to my husband but he just teased me. He finely [sic] said he'd go see my sister [Marjorie]"ducked". When they got ready to baptize the bunch the first man out was Jess all in white and walked into the water. I was so happy I wanted to cry.
"Elder and Jess surely did tease me then but I was to happy to even care -- "

Jess and Mable were
faithful, active church members for the rest of their lives. They served in many positions of leadership. Jess was the Finance Clerk for 7 bishops, the last being his son, Louis.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

California, here we come!

NydaDell Calloway (cousin), Eldon, Delbert, Louis, Charles

During the Christmas vacation in 1938, my mother took us four boys to Los Angeles to visit with Aunt Florence (her sister) and Uncle Evan. Since Dad worked for the railroad, we could get passes so the transportation didn’t cost us anything. We had never been to California before, and so it was a great experience to see the ocean.

Eldon (9), Charles (13), Delbert (4), Louis (15)

Back row: Elder Potter, Mable, Eldon, Louis
Front row: Nyda Dell Calloway, Delbert

An Elder Potter, who had been at our home a lot, lived in LA also, and he took us down to the beach along with Aunt Florence and her children. It was really cold, but we got in the water anyway, but stayed on the beach most of the time. Of course, it was December and not exactly swimming weather!

Louis - notice the transformation from dress clothes to skivvies and a towel!

On New Year’s Day we went to see the Parade of Roses. We went real early and sat on the curb to see the parade. It was really exciting for us as we had never seen anything like this before. This was before TV. Shirley Temple was the Marshall for the parade. I don’t remember who played in the Rose Bowl that year; we didn’t go. I remember that we did a lot of roller-skating around the neighborhood with my cousin, Delvin.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've Been Working on the Railroad

Children of Charles L. and Cora M.Wisemiller Butler, 1905
L-R, Back Row: Joseph, Louis Raymond, Sarah
Front Row: Edwin (Jeff), Bessie, Susie, Jesse, Ida

My father, Jesse Llewellyn Butler, was born on the shortest day of the year, December 21, 1898 at Lexington, Dawson County, Nebraska. He was the fifth of nine children born to Charles Llewellyn and Cora Melvina Wisemiller Butler. He lived on a farm near the Platte River until the family moved to Haswell, Kiowa County, Colorado when Dad was about 7. They farmed two homesteads about four miles east and one mile south of Haswell, Colorado. They sold those two tracts of land in 1920 and moved into Haswell where his father built the Highway Garage.

In his youth, Jess was a baseball pitcher for the Haswell Baseball team. His brother, Edwin Murel (known as Jeff) was his catcher. They played all of the neighboring towns in a league. In those days they were known as Mutt and Jeff, as Jess was tall and his brother was short, like the comic characters in the newspapers of that time.

Dad had a motorcycle before he got married. Shortly after he was married he was out at the ranch showing his skill at standing up on the seat while it was going, when he hit an obstacle in the road and the bike went down - and so did the rider. He was skinned up pretty bad, and he sold it that very day!

Charles L. Butler and Jesse L. Butler

My grandfather was the chute foreman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Haswell, and when he was about 22, Jess became the station agent and worked with him. He also worked part time in a small general store to supplement the meager wages he made from the railroad at the small station. This is what Dad was doing when he and my mother were married. Most of his young life Dad had watched the trains come through Haswell, and he looked at the engineers as having a job which he would like to have.

Dad loved the big engines and wanted to run them along the prairie at 100 miles per hour! So in 1924 he jumped at the chance to transfer to Pueblo to become an engineer for the railroad. He knew it would require doing other jobs part time for many years before he could get a regular run and work full time as an engineer. He knew that several months of the year he might not work at all. Throughout his life he loved the railroad and though there were many months each year in the beginning that he would be laid off, he always left a job and returned to the railroad when they called. After he got a job as a fireman on the train, he went through Haswell regularly on his “runs” from Pueblo to Horace, Kansas where he waited 8 hours or more to return to Pueblo.

At the railroad yard in Pueblo
This is one of the engines for which Jesse was the fireman. The fuel for the engines was coal that Dad had to shovel into the firebox that heated the water in the boiler to make steam.

Jesse was always worried because so many people would try to beat the train, crossing the tracks before the train crossed the road. He was especially worried when he was in the Haswell area, because he knew the people who were crossing the tracks.

A train wreck or derailment
Dad never had an accident with the train. His greatest fear was that he might hit a gasoline tanker truck. In such accidents the fuel would engulf the engineer and fireman, and they would not survive.

Jess was promoted to engineer in 1941 and had a regular turn, year-round with a steady, comfortable income from that time on. The war was going on in Europe, and it looked very much like we were going to be in it sooner or later and we were doing a lot of business with the Allies. Therefore the railroads were very busy and Dad was working a regular turn on the Eagle, which was a first rate passenger train.

One of Jess' greatest sources of pride was that he worked on the Colorado Eagle, the
"streamliner" passenger train running from St. Louis to Denver. He loved that train, but worried that because of the speed, by the time he could be aware of anybody or anything on the track in front of him, he wouldn't have time to stop. He worked on the Eagle until it was taken out of service, and then he served on a local freight train until his retirement.

In December 1966 Jess retired from the railroad after 48 years of service. His career spanned a time of many changes and advances in the railroad industry, the most significant being the replacement of old steam-driven locomotives by diesel engines. During the days of steam locomotives about 30 or 40 cars was considered a good train. With diesels they could make better time with four times that many cars.

Another development occurred when radios were installed in the caboose and engine of the trains to provide better communications between the conductor and the engineer. Before radios were installed, during foggy weather they had to carry the signals from one end of the train to the other.

When asked what he was going to do now that he was retired, he said, "I'm going to do lots of fishing."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mable Elsa Davis - Lou's mother

Lou's sons probably remember camping and fishing and family Christmases with Grandma and Grandpa Butler. They may remember family reunions with the Davis clan or Sunday dinner at Grandma's house. Most of Lou's grandchildren remember Grandma Mable Butler as a woman with snowy white hair carefully fixed in an "up-do" and decorated with a hair net dotted with tiny colored beads.

But Mable's story began many years before those memories, and it seems fitting to give some of her childhood history here.

Mable Elsa Davis was born 20 July 1902 on a ranch 10 miles east of Ramah, El Paso County, Colorado where her father had homesteaded 160 acres in the spring of 1898. She was the 7th child born to ViAnna FiDella Shafer and Charles Harker Davis. Her sister Birdie Bell Davis Harriman wrote in her history, "We almost lost mother when Mable was born. Mother was so very sick that the report had gotten around to some of the neighbors that she had died. How surprised they were when they came to sympathize with us and found her still with us and the baby doing fine. We children were surprised, but very happy with the food they brought in."

Following are some excerpts from Grandma Mable's history as written January 6, 1973. The dates are approximate, as all of this family's histories record them a little differently!

In 1906 we sold our ranch and bought an irrigated farm and dairy herd at Fountain, Colorado. So Mama and us little kids took the train to Fountain, and Daddy and the boys took the wagon and horseback and drove some milk cows. How we loved it there – beautiful house and yard, trees and flowers, and only 2 miles from town. Good school and my first Sunday School and church. Here I learned we had a Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.

Mable as a teenager

[It was also] here daddy built us a school house and we were taught by Mr. Wiley. He was single and didn’t care for a very curious little girl, so I got spanked every day. If I could see him today, I’d kick him on the shins.

One day in the summer of 1908 I felt sleepy and my family couldn’t understand why I roamed all over the ranch and would hide and go to sleep. We had sheared the sheep and had the wool in big sacks all stacked up when I crawled in between them and went to sleep. At supper time no one knew where I was. They looked in all the barns and in the old wells. About midnight daddy found me. Boy I got scolded and sent to bed. I didn’t care as I was still sleepy and didn’t want to eat. The next day Birdie took me to the post office. I slept all the way and had a headache and wouldn’t eat. Then Mama decided I had to be doctored as she never had a child act this way. Birdie was sick too, so we drove to Pueblo – took us all day, and the next day the Dr. came. I was real proud that the attention was all on me until the Dr. pulled up my dress to feel of my tummy. I can remember how indignant I was, but he found I had walking typhoid fever. Birdie had it too, and was real sick. He gave us pills and told daddy to dig another well, as our water was giving us this sickness. How worried our parents must have been, with 9 children to worry about.
Mable as a young girl

One June morning in 1909 Daddy said, “Birdie! Take all your brothers and sisters and go play in the sand draw. Mrs. Mary Arnold was there, and that was strange so early in the morning. Well, we all went out the door together, Birdie, Norman, Augusta, Floyd, Lemuel, Me, Garnons and Johnnie. Richard was a baby still in bed. Now I was curious so I slipped around to the front door and sat on the steps. Sure enough – in a while Daddy called for Birdie to come and bring her family. I waited till they got to the house then I joined them. Sneaky, eh? But I had to know. Daddy said the stork had brought us a baby sister. I asked how he got in the house and Daddy said by the front door and I told him, “Oh, no it didn’t as I was sitting on the steps.” So I got a whack and sent out.

I was 7 years old and my big sister was my ideal. She was always nice to me and I liked her boyfriends.
I used to look at our mother and think she was so beautiful with big blue eyes and coal black hair. But I really thought she was getting old. She was 40 I think.

Mable holding the horse with "The younger set" riding

The Fountain River ran across our farm and we were told to stay away from it, and above all not to throw sticks or rocks in it. Again Garnons and I were disobedient and Daddy rode up just as I threw a stick in. He said, “You little devil, jump in and get that stick out.” So I jumped in. I had never been in any water except the bath tub. So under I went, up I came, down again, and Garnons jumped in, and pulled me out by the hair on my head. See I was bigger than him so he stayed clear of me but could hold to my braids.

In April 1913, Papa sold or traded our beautiful farm and we moved by covered wagon to Haswell, Colorado.

And that's another story for another day.

Friday, February 15, 2008

College Basketball - 1946

Lou Butler in white uniform, behind #22

First Season Playing Basketball
Pueblo Junior College – January 1946

Since I had been discharged from the Navy, I now had to decide what I was going to do. We had debated whether I should go to work (my dad really wanted me to go to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad where he worked) or whether I should use my GI Bill and go to school. I was qualified for enough time on the GI Bill to get my BA and MA, and I knew I didn’t want to work for the railroad with all of its layoffs and constant working on nights and weekends. So I entered Pueblo Jr. College, not really knowing what I wanted to major in, just knowing I wanted to participate in sports. I enrolled in the business department with intentions of majoring in accounting. I also went out for basketball.

Harry Simmons was the coach and he was very helpful to one who had not played any ball in high school and needed a lot of coaching. He admired my hustle and determination to learn and so spent a lot of time trying to get my speed, coordination, and the ball into sync. I spent much time dribbling around the court whenever I was not on the floor until I could dribble without kicking the ball.

Leona had rented an upstairs apartment at 1701 East 7th Street, just 2 blocks from my folks and about 2 blocks from her folks. We had about 15 stairs going up to the apartment, but it seemed like a lot more when I arrived home after my first day's practice with the college basketball team. I had ridden the bus and streetcar for about an hour and had time to get good and stiff from the very strenuous workout!

Leona on THE STAIRS!

Most of the team had just returned to school from the service, and most of them had taken up smoking while in the service. Coach Simmons said he didn’t care if they smoked as long as they could keep up. He really worked us hard and most of them decided to give up smoking in order to keep up! Even though I didn’t smoke, I stood at the foot of those stairs thinking that I could never make it to the top!

Pueblo Junior College Basketball Team, January - March 1946
Lou Butler - back row, far right

INDIANS Basketball Prospectus
"All Pueblo Junior College games will be played in the spacious Junior College Gym where new fan shaped backboards have been installed this season. The new backboards should speed up our games and eliminate the mad scrambles that were evidenced with the rectangular boards."

Admissions -- Adults 60 cents --- Students 30 cents (Tax included)

"Louis Butler is short in statue [sic] and experience, but long on eagerness and speed. Louie stands but 5' 9", but his hustle and determination give him the necessary qualifications to become an outstanding player. A few games under his 'belt' and we can expect good basketball from this boy. Louie is a former Centennial student."

I played junior varsity mostly and got into some of the varsity games that season. Leona went with us on the bus to many of the games out of town. One of our first games was in Trinidad (Colorado) where, it seems, I spent more time on the floor from being knocked down, than I spent standing up. However, I missed 16 straight free throws! I can assure you I spent much time the next week and future weeks at the free throw line shooting free throws after most of the team was in the showers.

We had a very successful season and were invited to go to the National Junior College Basketball Tournament, but we didn’t have any money in the budget for basketball, let alone enough to go to a tournament, so we couldn’t accept the invitation. There were only 6 men on the campus when the 1945-1946 school year started and only about 250 when we all got out of the service in December.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Will you be my Valentine?

February 14, 1940
A candy wrapper from Leona's first box of Valentine chocolates from Lou

Louis Butler
Leona Carpenter
1938 - It was during this year that I started seeing Leona Carpenter a lot at church and at her house on Sundays. Her Mom is a great cook and I can still remember the great breaded pork chops she used to fix! That year I bought her a white pair of ice skates for her birthday. It was a cold winter and we did get to go skating on the Mineral Palace Park Lake several times.

Louis Butler and Leona Carpenter 1939

Back to school (after Christmas break) and seeing Leona a lot during the rest of the winter and spring. When school was out I got a job with the Rainbo Bakery selling day old bread. All of the bread that was not sold was brought into the day-old store. Most of it was sold to farmers for their hogs, but most of it that I sold was not really stale, but the extra bread that was baked and then not needed for the route salesmen. Leona came over regularly to get bread, even though her dad was a baker!

Young love - 1939

Leona and I continued seeing each other when I was in high school. We went our separate ways for a while. Then after I had finished high school we started going together again.

Spring 1940
Leona (14 years old) and Lou (17 years) going to the Gold and Green Ball

March 4, 1983
Yes, I'll be your Valentine - - for all eternity!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pieces to the puzzle

Dad loved to work jigsaw puzzles, and with only a couple of exceptions he stayed with each puzzle until completion, no matter how hard. Often he worked the edge first, but sometimes he'd start in the middle of the puzzle. Other times he'd focus on a small area within the big picture of the puzzle, and after completing that section, he'd carefully place it in the framework he'd already put together. Regardless of the technique, all of his children and many of his grandchildren spent lots of pleasant hours hunched over the table with Grandpa and Grandma, hunting for just the right puzzle piece. "Puzzling" was relaxing and a time for comfortable conversation about almost any topic - past, present or future.

And so will be these memories. The stories won't follow any specific order. Sometimes they will present the edges, or the framework of his life. Other posts will be a specific section that will later fit in the larger picture. But regardless of how they come, together they will preserve a life well lived and our cherished memories - a completed puzzle.