Chapter 4: Marriage and Family Life

The friendship that Katharine and Allen shared became more serious. Ann remembers a conversation with Katharine when she told her that Allen had proposed on the steps of the historic Admininstration Building on Bethel College's campus. It was decided that after her graduation from Bethel, they would get married. Katharine graduated from Bethel College on Tuesday, June 1, 1948 with a Bachelor of Science in Business. Three days later she would be Mrs. Allen Moyer. "Allen and Katharine were married in the Alexanderwohl Church near Goessel, Kansas on Friday, June 4, 1948. They moved to Deer Creek, Ok and for a time lived with Will and Louise, until they were able to build their own home. They did settle on a farmstead, located 1/2 miles north of Will and Louise".(57)

Katharine was employed by the Medford School system in the fall of 1948. She taught English to high school as well as junior high students. She was even the Junior Class sponsor in charge of the Junior Class play. Although she taught only one year, she made a huge impression on her students. Many of them were nearly the same age as Katharine, but they had a deep admiration and respect for their English teacher.

As newlyweds, The Moyers were settling into their home and were delighted to learn that they would be new parents. Their oldest son, John Richard was born August 8, 1949. Their second son, Charles Allen was born February 23, 1953 and their youngest son, Jerry Wayne was born February 5, 1958.

Katharine described Allen as a good husband. He took care of his family and was a very hard-working person. She was proud of his many accomplishments. Allen was also very proud of his sons and enjoyed attending school events that his sons took part in such as sports and other extracurricular activities.

Each son was asked to share a favorite memory they had of their Dad. The unique perspectives offered reflect the difference of birth order and time.

As the oldest of the three sons, John was also in a unique position of being the first grandchild on both sides of the family. Here are some of John's memories of his Dad:

One of my earliest memories was when I was very little and came home from Sunday School singing "Jesus loves all the little children, red and yellow, black and white". Dad took me out to check on the sheep before dinner and warned me that singing that song in town might get me beat up. I asked why and Dad said some people in town do not believe that Jesus loves black children. I said but he does. After a while Dad said go ahead and sing it because some things are worth getting beat up for.

When I was maybe 10 or 12 years old, there was an infestation of Norway rats in the the sheep barn. They would come out from under a pile of baling wire to look at us. Dad set me down on a grease bucket with an air rifle and told me to shoot any rat that came in view. I spent all day shooting rats.

Once Dad bought me some pigs to raise as a project. As they started to get a little bigger, they broke down the fence to their pen and went across the road to eat the neighbor's chickens. The next day Dad told me that he had given the pigs to the neigh- bors to pay for the chickens and I never raised pigs again.(58)

As the middle child Charles or Charlie as he was affectionately called, was very sickly as a baby. In fact Allen and Katharine were fearful that they would lose him as a new- born. Here are some of Chuck's memories of his Dad:

I remember spending a lot of time with my Dad before I started school. I loved going with him to town to do errands or to do chores. One particular time that I remember was going to Blackwell with him and while we were there, we stopped at a drugstore and he bought me an ice cream cone.

Another time Dad took me with him, when he looked in on his widowed Aunt Ovie. While we were in town Dad left me with her and he took care of some business. I remember she was sitting on the porch on a hot day eating chocolates.(59)

Allen related to me a favorite story he had of Charlie. He told me he was on the Goeble 80 fixing a fence. He had Charlie with him, so to keep him entertained, Allen got a stick and tied a string to it and told Charlie to go catch a fish. Allen chuckled when he finished the story. He said, "All of a sudden I heard Charlie yelling,"

Look, Dad I caught a whale!

Allen Moyer

As the youngest child, Jerry was very musically inclined. Here are some of Jerry's memories of his Dad:

One of my earliest memories of him is he was singing, "The little black duck swimming in the water, The little black duck, doing what he oughter". I think that was a Bing Crosby song off one of his children's record albums.

Dad was on the Deer Creek Scool Board for a few years and served as President for part of that time. During that time at least two tragic gun accidents involving school kids resulted in a fatality in one instance and the loss of a leg in another. Firearms are a part of rural life and farm kids grow up around guns from the time they are born. Keeping guns away from kids in that culture is not a realistic expectation. In what I consider a stroke of genius the school board brought in the National Rifle Association to do a gun safety course for the entire school system to probably about 5th Grade. I remember it being an excellent course that taught such basic but important gun safety concepts such as: How to safely cross a fence with a rifle; Always assume a gun is loaded even if you know it isn't; Never point a gun loaded or unloaded at another person; Aways unload a gun before storing it away; Never carry a loaded gun in a vehicle; Don't ever shoot a gun from a moving vehicle; Always be aware of what is in the direction you are shooting even a mile away because bullets travel that far; Never shoot into water. It's amazing that I still remember these things. It must have been an effective program because attentiveness at school was not one of my strong points. In recent years the NRA has been at odds with gun control activists following various mass shootings, but I am certain that in at least this one case the NRA and the Deer Creek School Board on which my Dad served saved lives.

When I was a school kid I would hear from other kids about how there would be a belt or paddle available at the house that would be used on them for the slightest infraction or act of disrespect, and I have heard some adults my age talk almost affectionately about when they got their rear end whacked when they were kids. That was not the case at our house. Apparently my parents thought that type of discipline wasn't necessary and I heartily agree with them! Words are far more powerful than a spanking. I don't know where this came from, whether it was a Mennonite thing or just a family tradition passed down for generations, but what worked for my parents has also worked for me and my wife as parents and I think our kids have turned out OK.

Dad was a good teacher when the subject was farming. I don't think we were child labor but part of a team with a common goal. We learned the consequences of our actions or inactions, and how they could affect the farm's profit or loss. While farming was pretty much all he knew, I know now, that the lessons I learned from him while carrying out all the necessary farm activities have affected everything I have ever done or accomplished.

One of the last activities I remember that he and I participated in together was the Future Farmers of America, even though I did not end up being a farmer in the future. Participation in FFA was made possible with the merger of the Deer Creek and Lamont school districts because Lamont had FFA and Deer Creek did not. He assisted with obtaining a flock of Suffolk Sheep that became my primary FFA project. He also assisted with livestock shows and also in earlier years with 4H livestock shows at Deer Creek. Assisted is actually an understatement. One memorable FFA fundraising event at Lamont that he helped with was the annual FFA Oyster Fry. Oyster is a euphemism for sheep testicles. They are really quite tasty if you don't know what you are eating.

Parkinson's Disease started taking its toll at a more rapid pace after that and father-son activities halted. I have few memories of him past high school in which he would be considered normal or healthy, and communicating with him became increasingly difficult due to the effects of dementia.

For a man of the WWII generation, my father was a good provider, a good teacher, a good mentor, and set a good example for and was gentle with his kids. In short he was a good man and father. No, he was operating at the same mythical standard as a "Mr. Mom" of more modern times but set in the context of the time period he was better than most.(60)

Family life would be busy with school events, church activities and farm work. There was much to be done, for Allen would begin expansion with the farm and the sheep operation.

Allen Moyer

Copyright Rose Moyer, 2015, All rights reserved.