Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Margie

Margie Carter Camp - circa 1931-1934??

So, when last we met, I had made contact with and visited my long-lost Camp family around the Shreveport, Texarkana and Jefferson, TX area. What I didn't have room to say in that LONG post was that all my life when I was growing up - my grandmother Margie, my mother and I would come to that area - every two years - for about two weeks in the summer. We came to attend two family reunions which were held around July 4th.

One of the families we always spent a night or two with was my grandmother's brother John and his wife Zanah Carter. They had A LOT of children - from some that were my mother's age down to a couple of girls who were just a little bit older than I was. And - coincidentally - one of those daughters was also named Lynda - with a Y.

During conversations with my newly found uncle James Leland Camp, he has shared that his dad (my grandfather Jim Camp) and his second wife Hattie remained very good friends with John and Zanah through the years. He recalls visiting their house often and that they would come over to visit Jim and Hattie - even spending the night. So....this begs the question...why didn't John and/or Zanah ever tell Jim where his children were? You see...Jim Camp always believed that Margie had taken the children and moved to CALIFORNIA. Holy cow - sure glad that didn't turn out to be true.

Well, so be it, maybe they felt on some level they should not get involved. But James Leland and I think it so strange that he and his parents were often in the same places that Margie, Mother and I were. My poor Mother always believed that her Daddy had abandoned her, wanted nothing more to do with her and her brothers - or something to that effect. And, I don't know what his true thoughts were - but I believe he did love them and wondered where they were.

After he remarried, he still felt love for Margie (my grandmother). One night, he couldn't sleep and was up and wrote a song about her. First thing the next morning he told his wife, Hattie that he wanted to tell her something. He didn't want her to be offended or have her feelings hurt, he said, but he had to write this song.
So, let me share the lyrics here with you. James Leland so very kindly gave me one of the two remaining copies of the sheet music.

My Margie
lyrics by J.D. Camp music by Gene Brooks

I've been wondering since you went away My Margie,
What I'd done to make us drift so far apart.
Since the day you went away to love another,
My love for you still burns deep in my heart.

After twelve long happy years we spent together,
I still wonder why you felt you had to roam.
Til the day I die I know I'll still be wondering,
If you will change your mind and come back home.

I am sure down in your heart you know I loved you.
Yes, I loved you more than human tongue can tell.
And I wonder if in trhis great lonely world dear,
Together we will ever chance to dwell.

My thoughts are always with you, My Margie.
And our loved one's you've had through long years past.
If in this world we never meet again dear,
May we meet in the world on high at last.

You may remember I mentioned "secrets" in the previous post - and
within the lyrics of this song, you will see at least one of them.

Here is a picture of James Daniel Camp, my grandfather. How
I wish I could have known him here in this world - but I am looking
forward to a reunion, as he says, in the "world on high".

Remember that line in the chorus - "and our loved ones you've had since longs years past"? I believe that line refers to his three "lost" children. The eldest, James Earl, passed away within a year after he remained in Texas with his grandparents and Margie, Gladys (my mother) and Joe had moved to Florida. My grandfather was not informed until six months after his son had died. I'm going to post another picture of Earl and Joe - and look at those crazy high-top tennis shoes Earl is wearing. James Leland tells me that his father (my grandfather) kept those shoes for years, in a box along with other memories.

I just wish my mother would have known all this, in her life, but you know, I guess when she went to "that world on high" in 1979, her Daddy was probably right there waiting for her, and her brother James Earl right by his side.

This is all very emotional for me - and I truly feel the loss of not having had the chance to know James Daniel Carter "in this lonely world". He passed away in 1963. See you in Heaven Papa Jim (this is how his other grandchildren refer to him).

My Other Side - Camp Family

If you read my blog - you know how proud I am to be a Benton - and to have grown up surrounded by that wonderful Clan. I greatly credit who I am to having been raised in a big extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. We had some great times.

Even so...there has always been another side that was missing. You see, my sweet mother, Gladys Lorraine Stokes Benton, was, in truth, Gladys Lorraine CAMP Stokes Benton. She, along with her two brothers James Earl and Joe Edward were born to Margie Anna Carter Camp and James Daniel Camp in and around Jefferson, Texas back in the 1920's.

This is a picture of Joe Edward Camp and James Earl Camp circa 1930.

And here is their sister and my mother Gladys Lorraine Camp at age 7 - which would be sometime after July 1930.

Like Glinda the Good says in "Wicked", every family has their secrets - and mine has its fair share. At some point, in the year or so after these pictures were made, things went wrong in the Jim and Margie Camp family. I won't get into the details here - but it was sudden and sad. The parents went their separate ways and these three sweet children were left with my great-grandparents, Charley and Lily Carter. They did not know where their parents were - or if they would ever see them again. Before I - or you - start "blaming" anyone - let's remember this was the Depression -with a CAPITAL D. Times were very different, easy communication from distances was difficult and people were trying to survive.

Sometime two or three years later after the EVENT, Margie returned - reportedly having been in Oklahoma trying to find work and put together money to raise her children. She then took Gladys and Joe and moved to Florida. James Earl stayed behind with his grandmother and uncles on the Carter Farm. Charley had passed away during this time.

This picture was taken around the time Margie returned and moved with Joe and Gladys to Florida.

So, first Margie and the children went around Lake Okeechobee - and she had a hard time finding work. They traveled north and landed in Gainesville, Florida. And thus, I am a native Floridian - and proud of it - rather than being a native Texan - which I also sort-of claim - and proud of my Texas heritage as well.

This picture is of Gladys and Joe after they are living in Florida.

Margie met and married Furman Lee Stokes in Gainesville - in 1938. He was a wonderful man and he loved Joe and Gladys and was a good "Daddy" to them for the rest of their lives. But...when I was a curious child, I wanted to know what happened to their "original" Daddy. I was just told - he abandoned his family. Of course, as with secrets, that was not the whole story - or necessarily even the true story. That will all be in a different post. Let's just say, I was always bothered to not know anything about my Grandfather Camp.

You may know, I am into genealogy and family history. Through my research I truly hit a dead end where James Daniel Camp - my biological grandfather - was concerned. So, I posted a question on Ancestry.com. (By the way, if you aren't watching Lisa Kudrow's program on NBC, "Who Do You Think You Are?" - which is sponsored by Ancestry.com - you should. It is wonderful). As usual, I digress.

I was contacted, through my post on Ancestry.com, by Mike Stout who told me his wife, Christine, was the daughter of Frank Camp, who was the brother of my grandfather James Daniel Camp. We began to email back and forth - and found we had some similar pictures of James when he was a young man. Mike told me that my grandfather had remarried and had two more children, Elizabeth Ann and James Leland. He had heard that Elizabeth Ann had died but thought James Leland might still be living. I am having visions now of a brother my mother never knew she had. I am picturing a man - probably in his late 70's who could go at any time. I wanted to meet him, or at least talk to him. Maybe he would know what had happened to my grandfather and why he never had contact with my mother and uncles.

About a month ago, Mike Stout (who is a truly kind and generous person) emailed me and said that James Leland Camp's wife had passed away and Christine was going to go to the funeral and would try to tell James Leland Camp about me and find out if it would be okay if I contacted him. She did get to tell him and he said - yes, by all means - please have her call me. I finally did last week call him. I felt awkward and shy to some extent - what would I say?? Well, when he answered the phone, I just said "Is this James Leland?". He said, "Yes it is". Then I said, "well this is Lynda, I am your niece." The conversation started and has continued and this weekend I met some of my Camp family - at long last. Here I am with my "Uncle" James. He is only six years older than me, so he seems more like a cousin, and definitely like a friend.

I hope I have "teased" you with this posting. So, stay tuned, for more about my adventure into my family's past and the mysteries surrounding what happened way back in the 1930's.