My cousin Joe Jarvis sends out emails on a regular basis to his “Fort Smith Cousins”. Mostly, it includes Internet memes or other things he finds amusing. He also sends family photos that he has curated to include names and dates. Joe is our family genealogist.
All of the photos in this slide show are from emails sent to me by Joe over the past two years. The audio is from a reel-to-reel tape recording from 1965. For details, see the email exchanges below.
This video is about “Family”.
To: Joe Jarvis
Sent: Wednesday March 15 2023 3:16:05PM
Subject: Our Family Roots
I enjoy your Fort Smith cousin emails and wanted to give you something back.
The photos are all from you. The audio includes voices that you will recognize.
From: Joe Jarvis
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2023 6:47 PM
To: Jerry Presley
Subject: Our Family Roots YouTube Video – Jerry Presley to Joe jarvis 3-15-2023
I am still getting over the surprise & pleasure of hearing that tape after so many years!
Was there any information with the tape with a date and people involved!
I’ll comment more after I hear back from you!
From: Jerry Presley
To: Joe Jarvis
Sent: Thursday March 16 2023 1:37:08AM
Subject: RE: Our Family Roots YouTube Video – Jerry Presley to Joe Jarvis 3-15-2023
I’m so relieved that you wrote “surprise & pleasure” rather than just “surprise”. 😊
I remember that the tape recorder was a heavy, brown-colored, suitcase-sized device with a handle on the top. It opened up to reveal the turn-tables where the reel to reel audio tape would thread through the pulleys and across the recording head. Because of the vacuum tubes, it had to “warm-up” first. It had a speed-setting knob and that allowed me to create audio tapes that sounded exactly like Alvin and the Chipmunks. That tape recorder was my favorite toy for a few years.
Many years ago, I copied all my super-8 movies, VHS videos, and reel-to-reel tapes to CD format. I believe I sent you a CD copy of the audio recording at the time.
On Monday, you wrote “I am now 81, so I am busy gathering some Cullen genealogy and photos together to send out to our Cullen family members”.
That comment triggered a memory. I remembered that somewhere, I have a recording of Uncle George singing in his deep baritone voice. So yesterday, I found the audio CD, transferred it to MP4, edited it down a bit, downloaded the family photos you sent me over the past 2 years, and earlier today put together the video. It only took me two days to document what it took more than 100 years for a family to create. Think about that!
Joe, I believe you know how much Bill, Georgiana, and you have meant to me.
Bill always gave me military trinkets and told non-stop jokes. He liked me. He arranged for my first private plane ride where I actually flew the plane, or at least I sat in the Co-Pilot’s seat and I was the only one with my hands on the “steering wheel”. Or was it you who arranged that?
Georgiana came to stay with us for several weeks when my dad died. She was there to help my mother. I was 10 at the time and I thought she was an angel. She understood me. Georgiana was the first “girl” I ever fell in love with. Later I came to understand that she also knew about the loss of a parent, but in a different way.
You also touched me after my dad died. You and Cullen picked me up at St Boniface one day and took me out to lunch. I’ve written about that event and I’d like to hear your version of that story someday.
Now, to answer your question.
I believe this is a recording of a visit to our house by George, Lillian, Bill, Aunt Maude, and Savanne. We also hear Aunt Jewell’s voice when she talks about Bill and Michaelae. It’s not surprising that she would be there for the visit.
We hear an accordion (or harmonica?) and a guitar. I may have played the dismal strums on the stringed instrument. I dunno. Who played the other instrument?
I don’t know dates. But is it clearly after Granddad died and before Grandmother died. The audio was recorded at our house at 510 N 39th in Fort Smith and Grandmother’s voice is exactly as I remember it.
Granddad and Grandmother lived with us and I have many fond memories of them. I remember when my mother discovered Granddad non-responsive, she instructed me to call Father Morris to come to our house. And I knew why. She called the ambulance.
When I called Father Maurus, I said “Father, this is Jerry Presley”. And then I paused. And then I said “It’s my Granddad…” and then I couldn’t get another word out. He knew immediately why I called. Father Maurus administered Extreme Unction to Granddad before the “ambulance” arrived. My mom, my sister Mary, and I were there to witness the act. Grandmother held Granddad’s hand.
At the end of the master tape, there is a recording of an ABC Radio newscast from KFSA, a local radio station. The newscast mentions an uprising in China challenging Mao Zedong and bombing raids in North Vietnam. I don’t know if this newscast is a contemporaneous recording but probably so.
Those are the facts. I’m looking forward to your comments.
From: Joe Jarvis
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2023 7:11 PM
To: Jerry Presley; Beth Jarvis; Ethan Jarvis; Rachael Jarvis;
Subject: Our Family Roots YouTube Video – Jerry Presley to Joe jarvis 3-16-2023
You did a fantastic job of transferring all those photos (you must be a photo hoarder like me) and the audio tape to a 20 minute long YouTube video…I was very pleased you sent the link and I’m sure my children will be equally pleased.
Thanks for your information about the people at your mother house in 1965 where the audio recording was made, which included my parents George (1887-1977); Lillian (Cullen) Jarvis (1908-1991), my brother Bill Jarvis (1939-1991) and me Joe Jarvis (Jan 4, 1942-) were there, but our sister Georgianna (Jarvis) Myers (1940-1993) wasn’t there..our grandmother Belle (Hembree) Cullen (1882-1966) and two of her Hembree sisters Maude and Savanah, and our aunt Jewell (Cullen) Bennett (1905-2001) (my mother; your mother’s older sister) and your mom Ann Cullen’s (1913-1999), were all there!
I had heard my mom Lillian and aunt Jewell mention their mother’s Hembree family and their aunts Maude and Savanah…I met some of the Hembree family as a young child including grandmother’s brother Hooley at a picnic, but I was too young to remember much about meeting the Hembree family…I did enjoy meeting Maude and Savanah when I was old enough to remember meeting them…I’ll provide you more information about grandmother Belle Cullen and her Hembree sibs in the new genealogy documents, that I am working on, while trying to get my income taxes done!
Our grandfather Michael Emmett Cullen (Aug 24, 1884-Jan 8,1965) passed away and our grandmother Belle Cullen (Jan 12,1882-Jun 11,1966) passed away the next year 1966, because she had nothing more to live for after our grandfather passed away…having lived with our grandparents for two years, while my mother was recovering from TB, I can say I never saw two people so much in love…we met at your Mom’s house after our grandfather’s funeral in 1965.
After my sibs and I were separated from our parents in Dec 1945 we lived six months with Ralph and Jewell, then two years with our grandparents Michael and Belle Cullen, then lived two years at Tilles Home an orphanage in Fort Smith…we returned to OKC in July 1950.
My sibs and I lived 2 years with our grandparents, we always called them Grandmother and Dad, while everyone else in the Cullen family called them Mom and Dad except my father who called them Mr. and Mrs. Cullen…I didn’t learn until years later that since my maternal grandparents were born in 1882 and 1884, and my father George Jarvis in 1887, that there was only a couple years difference in age between my father and his mother and father-in-law….LOL
My Mother called my father George by the nickname “Georgie”, and the whole Cullen family called him “Georgie”…since everyone in the Cullen family called our father “Georgie”, we kids called our father Georgie (I assume no one wanted to correct us, because we might be asked about our mother)…when we started school at St. Boniface (kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades), the nuns were totally confused that if Dad wasn’t our father, then who was this Georgie person?…Georgianna always called my father “Georgie”, while Bill and I started calling him “Pop” to save confusion with our classmates…my daughters Juliet and Rachel always called their grandfather Georgie!
So far as the tape, that is my father George “Pop” teasing about a parishioner reading the Gospel and doing all the verbal communication rather than the priest…why did we need to pay priests? Pop did sing the song about the Hudson Bee and later the “Ghost of The Coon” …Bill and I got our sense of humor from our father who was a big fan of the Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935), who died in an airplane crash…the OKC airport is named after him.
You might have the only audio recording of me actually singing…I was trying to cheer my grandmother up by reminding her that she would be with Dad again in the future, so that is why I sang the song “My Love Loves Me”.
I think that was my mother Lillian who sang the Arkansas and Oklahoma songs, while the Hembree sisters Maude and Savanah sang some of the older songs…a real feast of great voices on that YouTube video…LOL
That is my brother bill discussing the poor people in Guatemala…he spent two years as a “Papal Volunteer” a “Catholic Peace Corps”, and he spent two years in Guatemala helping building schools and roads…he came back speaking Spanish like a native even to the accent!
That was Aunt Jewell discussing her phone call to her daughter Michaelae and husband Bill Wilkinson in Ozark, AR where he worked in Forestry to help save trees and plant new trees. Michaelae and Bill adopted Jim and Tracy, then Michaelae learned she was PG and had four children…a wonderful family!
I sang the song “Don’t Weep After Me”, again to cheer my grandmother up…I turned four, two weeks after my mother contracted TB…I was actually too young to remember my mother, while Bill and Georgianna did and were always upset from not being with her…I quickly accepted Jewell as my 1st mother, then I accepted our grandmother Belle Cullen as my 2nd mother, and since I didn’t remember my real mother, it took me a while to accept my father’s friend as my 3rd mother (I didn’t understand the term “mother” until my mother explained the birds and bees to me…hearing about sex and understanding the term mother was a big shock for me!…I always understood who my father was as he would visit us on our birthday and holidays…it was too upsetting to see our father leave, so limiting his visits was a smart move…I always considered how lucky a kid I was to have three mothers!
I never heard the story that you called Father Maurus about our grandfather…there was a lot to ask of a young kid…you were evidently mature for your age or your mother wouldn’t have asked you to perform such an important task…impressive!
To answer a couple of your questions, it was my brother Bill who arranged the airplane ride and also that was Bill playing his harmonica!
Our Fort Smith Cullen family, including aunts and uncles and 1st cousins, were very close…any negative event that happened to one of our 1st cousins upset all of us 1st cousins…the unexpected death of your father Walter Presley at the age of 51 stunned the Cullen family…you mentioned how following your father’s death that Cullen and I got permission to take you out of St. Boniface school and take you out to lunch…you were really a wonderful kid and Cullen and I were very upset for you, so we decided to cheer you up by taking you out to lunch that day…you seemed to have wonderful time and Cullen and I were pleased to make you smile, which is what you normally did all the time.
Years later when you wrote to Cullen and me about how much that day meant to you, it actually caught us off guard as we really hadn’t considered how much our actions that day meant to you as you were only ten and we were surprised that you actually remembered that event…you were our 1st cousin and we were trying to think of something we could do for you to cheer you up, when the idea came to take you out to lunch. We appreciated you informing us how much that day meant to you!
This is more than I intended to write Jerry, so I’ll close by thanking you again for your thoughtfulness by sending me your YouTube link…my kids may want to forget my singing.LOL