My Dad – The Remberance of William Pendleton Albert

Note:  This story was written by his youngest daughter, Mamie Lorene Albert Morris.  Her grandparents were Thomas E. and Sara E. Ware of Maxon Mills.  Her mother was Eula Morton Ware, born in McCracken Co., KY near Paducah February 15, 1872.  Eula married William P. Albert on February 12, 1890.and died two years after her beloved husband, October 15, 1955.  The story is Lorene’s loving tribute to her father and was submitted by Theresa Morris Middle, her granddaughter.

William P. Albert

“He died as he had lived.  Practically penniless and in a shabby, rundown, house on the wrong side of the tracks because houses were cheaper there.

But the room where the funeral would not hold the flowers.  There were large sprays from the town’s elite and home grown ones from the farm folks.  The church would not hold the people present for the funeral service.  The town was small and  boasted little of society but the Mayor was there, the president of the Rotary club and most of the business men.  The country people came from miles around to pay their last tribute to Dad, as he was called by them all.

He’d helped to build the church many years ago.  In fact, it owed its origin there to him and one other native who had driven miles in horse and buggy days attending to the arrangements to have it transferred from a neighboring town because it would bring religion closer to them and their families.  Many, as they stood beneath its roof today, attending his last rites remembered his knock on their door soliciting funds to build it.

There were other memories too.  He Hadn’t had to live in such poverty.  He’d made money, but could never keep it with him.  Always, he’d see someone more in need than himself and his joy was in seeing their needs fulfilled as long as the money lasted.

He was eighty five when he died and only the last few years of that life had been spent in town.  The rest was on a farm where thirteen children had been born to him and his wife, six of them dying in infancy.  I was the youngest of them all so even my memoirs are limited to a small part of his life but that small part covers a lot of charity and service to his fellowman.

Our main crop was strawberries and just after berry season was about the only time there was ever any actual cash on hand.  But there was always canned goods, butter, eggs, meat, and other things to be shared with the less fortunate.  In youth, I lived from one berry season to the next.  To me, as well as to the many transients who came at that time, it was the happiest time of the year.  There were nightly parties with group singing and happy get-to-gathers.  Many of these were held in the shacks which were built to house ”the pickers.”  This helped them to feel that they had a share in the hospitality.  At least once each season at Dad’s house there’d be five gallon cans of ice cream and what a treat to children who knew only the hard ways of life, which did not include ice cream.

Each picker  was given a ticket for each quart of berries picked in order to keep count for the day.  Many of them were too lacking in education to count their tickets when pay day dame so Dad would add anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars to each group he payed off.  The three to six weeks of the season would close by them leaving with extra money in thei pockets and feeling more like they’d been on a vacation than on a job.

Elua Morton Ware and William Pendleton Albert

Wedding Photograph.

I remember how angry mother used to get.  She was more proud than the average and had a craving for the finer things in life so looked forward to berry time as a time for new things for herself–a new hat, new rugs for the house.  All of things that normal women crave; especially one who has only known poverty all her life.  When she’d see the pickers jubilant over their earnings she’d learn to sense the reason and know that her new hat or rug money had already been handed out to another.  He never ceased to show affection and attention to her that’s expected only of a bridegroom for his bride.  His conversation was ever filled with the praise and love he had for her that was compensation for all earthly wealth he’d deprived her of.   In their last days in the shabby house, on the wrong side of the tracks, she’d talk of how she loved her happy home and pray that God would continue to spare him to share it with her.

Will and Eula’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Harvest time is summer time and always the busiest time on the farm but then it’s vacation time too.  So as summer time rolled around also, in rolled the aunts, uncles, and cousins from neighboring towns and states and no matter how rushing the season, company must be entertained and never made to feel that they were not welcome at any time.  Even the house, with rooms added to accommodate the family as it grew would not hold them all at times.  So tables were set up out in the yard and mother was in her glory when she got them covered with food and could hear the praise of company and watch the smiles of her adoring husband.

At night we’d all gather around the old organ which one sister played while one brother played the violin and another the guitar.  One specialty on the program, which never grew old, was to have Dad stand on his head and to sing the song about the “The Woman’s Tongue.”   Several days might be spent in this entertainment while corn or hay in the field went to waste but the relatives left with stomachs full and minds at ease for weeks remembering the wonderful visit they’d had at Uncle Will and Aunt Eula’s.

Ours was the only telephone in the neighborhood and as winter time is always a time of much sickness there were knocks on the door at all hours of the day and night with neighbors wanting to call the doctor or deliver important messages to relatives in other localities.  They knew that they’d get, not only the use of the phone, but if help was needed, some of our family would return with them to take care of the sick or help lay out the dead.  Their friends and relatives soon learned that they too could just call “Dad Alberts” residence and he’d see that a message was delivered to anyone of the neighbors.

Rural lines are frequently out of order in bad weather, so I’ve seen my brothers crawl out of bed at all hours in all kinds of weather to take some one to get a doctor or to get medicine for the sick.  Our car, which was little more than a wreck, was also the only one in the community at the time.  But in having these things we did not think of them as luxuries or as something to be used for pleasure for ourselves but as something to be used to better serve those around us.

It’s impossible to make my children understand the ways of life as we knew it then.  To them, the accounts of it are something out of fiction or something that I’ve dreamed.  They can not vision it as things that really happened.

Child physiology was unheard of then but their faith and example, we learned right from wrong, learned the meaning of life as God would have us know it.  And I humbly pray that when my own children have reached my age, that I may have, in turn, instilled into their minds the same pleasant memories that my parents have left with me and that I, in my old age, will recall them in their last days and will have, at least, a little of their courage and perseverance.”

Mrs. Lorene Albert Morris



My Dad – The Remberance of William Pendleton Albert — 1 Comment

  1. What a beautiful heartfelt story of life on a farm. So wonderfully written in tribute to a great man. Thank you for sharing.

    C. Wayne Ware
    Cedar Falls, IA

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