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THE STORY OF MY LIFE

(by Loma (Groom) Harrison)

I was born LOMA IRELIA GROOM, October 26, 1906, on a farm in Hood County, Texas, near the town of Granbury, delivered by a mid-wife.  My father had gone to town for supplies  and no doctor was summoned.  My mother, Callie (Parker) Groom was nineteen years of age and my father, Rev. Millage Short Groom was thirty-four.  I had a sister, Lorena  Susan Groom, almost two years older than I who was born November 19, 1904, on a farm near Weatherford, Texas, on the first wedding anniversary of my father and mother.  My sister, Geneva Alice Groom was born almost three years after my birth, June, 15, 1909 in Abilene, Texas where my father was in school at Hardin-Simmons College.

While my father was in school at Hardin-Simmons, he taught kindergarten and I went to school with him.  I was three years of age and I learned to read.  Years later, when we lived near Childress, Texas and I was seven years old, I found some old hymnals in the storage room.  I liked one of the songs so much, that I made up my own tune to it:  "Must I  be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease, while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?"  That really impressed me.  The next Sunday at Church, I heard them singing the hymn to "my tune”. Was I ever surprised!  Of course they were singing the hymn "Am I a Soldier of the Cross" and I had remembered the tune and was not aware that I had ever heard it.

When we left Abilene, dad became pastor of the Baptist Church of Bailey, Texas. I remember one day at Church, I was standing on the church pew beside my mother, joining in the congregational singing, singing to the top of my lungs, "When the Rollness (Roll is) Called Up Yonder".  Mother tugged lightly at my skirt and whispered  "Not so loud".

Shortly before my brother James Needham was born, we were living in a small house on the outskirts of Bailey.  My sister Lorena and I, with our little girl friend, took our little sister and her little brother for a ride in the little red wagon, out the gate of our back yard, and into the pasture.  When we got back to the gate, there coiled up in the open gate, was a huge rattlesnake.  We were frightened out of our wits!  We screamed to the top of our lungs and took to our heels as fast as we could run, leaving Geneva and little brother in the wagon to fend for themselves.  When mother heard our screams, she came running to the rescue, in her stocking feet, over the sandburs in the back yard. There was no snake when she arrived, and she found the little ones, still in the little red wagon, howling lustily, but safe.

The day before my brother Jim was born, the neighbors took Lorena, Geneva and me for a wonderful ride in their surrey, and we spent the night with them.  This was the biggest treat we ever had, and we never suspected why they were being so nice to us. They even allowed Lorena and me to climb up in the mulberry tree and eat mulberries to our heart's content  The next morning they took us to our home to see our wonderful , new baby brother. How surprised and delighted we were!  There he was, cuddled in mother's arms, our precious brother that we all wanted so much.  (I still remember that mother's bed was across the room and to our left as we entered the room.)  They named him James Needham Groom, James after mother's father and Needham after dad's father.

Soon after Jim's birth, we moved into the town of Bailey where dad was pastor of the Baptist Church.  Our house was only a few blocks from the Church.  Several years ago, my sisters, Lorena, Geneva and I visited the house where people are still living.

I remember when mother's mother, my grandmother Susannah Caroline (Johnston) Parker, came to visit us.  The only thing that I remember about her visit, is that when Lorena and I played "Lady", in our playhouse under the front porch, we tried to look just like grandmother.  We pressed our lips tightly against our teeth so that our teeth did not show. We did not know that grandmother had all her teeth pulled and had not yet got her dentures.

Mother died of typhoid fever, October 10, 1912, at the age of twenty-five.  In those days, medical science did not know the cause  or cure for typhoid.  We know now that is caused by drinking polluted water.  Jim also became very ill, possibly  with typhoid. I remember that one of the last things mother ever said to dad was, "Take care of my baby".

The neighbors came in and laid mother's body on her bed, laying her directly on the bed slats which they covered with sheets.  They put soda soaked cloths on her face, trying to bleach the blood spots.  When I told them that I wanted to see my mother, they thought that I should be allowed to see her.  I regret that I did.  It is not a pleasant memory.

I remember the very moment that it dawned on my consciousness what it meant that mother was dead and would not be coming back to us.  I was digging in the sand in the back yard by the old long-bucket deep well, and I just kept digging and digging and crying and crying.  Dad was sitting on the back porch with his head in his hands, weeping.

The next day, after her death, mother's body was placed in a small black coffin and put by the door in her bedroom till time for her funeral that afternoon, which was held in the Baptist Church there in Bailey where dad was pastor.  We all sat on the front seats to the left of the coffin.  The only thing I remember about the funeral service was that the congregation sang, "Nearer My God to The."

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