Monday, July 30, 2018

Well Nigh Fifty Years On

by Glenn N. Holliman

A half century has passed, fifty turns around the sun and now all seven children of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman are gone.  This family, founded by a 1907 union of a 23 year old young man and a 19 year old girl, both of a rural Alabama county, both the children of farmers, led to 18 grandchildren who scattered across Alabama and America.  And so many great grandchildren that this writer cannot catalog them all.

The picture below was taken at a July 1968 family reunion on the front steps of the Irondale, Alabama 'White House' constructed in 1946 by Robert W. and Vena Holliman Daly.  Vena had long been anxious for a larger home than the one her family occupied for many years in the 2300 3rd Avenue North block, on the hill overlooking the railroad yards of  Irondale, Alabama.

Left to right, first row: Virginia Holliman Cornelius, Robert W. Daly, Jr. holding his niece, Suzanne Herrin Wilder, on his lap, Carol Cornelius Morton and her husband, Carl Blomstran.

Second row: Walter Cornelius, E.C. Herrin holding the youngest person attending, his son David, Mary Daly Herrin, Carol Daly (Bob's wife) and Gerry Holliman (wife of Bishop Holliman).

Third row: Euhal Holliman and Motie Holliman (wife of Ralph Holliman).

Fourth row: Glenn Holliman, his wife, Lynn, Ralph Holliman, Vena Holliman Daly, Clayton Herrin, 
Loudelle Holliman Ferrell and her husband, Charles, and Bishop Holliman.

Fifth row: Jean Holliman, Tommie Holliman Allen, Alice Holliman Murphy, Linda Herrin Bradley, Becky Holliman Payne, Kathy Holliman, Susan Cornelius Williams.

Back Row: George Hairston holding daughter Holly; Patti Holliman Hairston.

The location chosen for the new house was inside the Irondale city limits adjacent to U.S. Highway 78, the 4-lane road from Birmingham to Atlanta.  Within a generation land beside this busy highway became so valuable that developers acquired the house and lot in the late 1960s, removed the house and stately oak trees and put up a business office complex.  Today the United Methodist Church borders part of the old property line.

After the untimely death of Robert W. Daly, Sr. in 1959, Vena eventually accepted a position as matron of an University of Alabama sorority (later also at the University of Mississippi). Vena's daughter Mary and son-in-law and E.C. Herrin, and their growing family of four children moved into the home.

The year 1968 was a benchmark in American history and my personal story.  The Vietnam War was dividing the nation as over 500,000 US troops were trying to subdue a communist nationalist movement, a civil war, in Southeast Asia.  An average of 500 American men were dying a week as a result of an aggressive North Vietnamese Tet Offensive attack. The presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson floundered and collapsed as a result of the stalemate and cost in blood and treasure.

At home the Civil Rights movement climaxed with African-Americans gaining long deferred rights to vote and utilize public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels.  The cultural upheaval stressed the social fabric of the nation, especially the Deep South.  Dr. Martin Luther King, the non-violent, but confrontational leader, was assassinated by a white man that April and as a  result many inner cities in the country were torched by black angry mobs.

A Democratic candidate to replace Johnson in the presidency, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, a brother of the assassinated president John F. Kennedy, was himself murdered by a Palestinian immigrant in Los Angeles in June.  It seemed the nation was tearing itself apart with violence, both home and abroad.

A 21-year old Glenn N. Holliman, son of Bishop and Geraldine Stansbery Holliman, graduated from Tennessee Tech that June, along with his young wife, Lynn.  Within a week, a draft notice arrived from my Gadsden, Alabama board calling me to take a physical in Montgomery to ascertain if I was fit to join Uncle Sam's Army.

So, off to Alabama I went in July.  As my Uncle Ralph and Aunt Motie and their daughter Kathy, residents of Atlanta, were visiting Birmingham, my parents and sisters, Becky and Alice, headed south from Tennessee to join a family gathering that Mary Daly Herrin arranged in Irondale.

I have found only one other photograph of the July 1968 event and that is a table groaning with fried chicken, potato salad and ice tea.  Vena is identifiable in picture in a black dress and white ribbon.  Holly Hairston (Melton Holliman's grand daughter) in the foreground is facing toward the table and Loudelle is partially visible on the left.

I don't remember much about this reunion because of my personal emotional trauma.  By August, I was at Ft. Benning, Georgia and, after short stops at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and Ft. Hamilton, New York, by January 31, 1969, arrived in Vietnam.  My new home for a year was the 1st Infantry Division, forty some odd miles north of Saigon.

1968, a year in which it can be said America had a nervous breakdown, families such as this one still gathered and celebrated their loving relationships and common heritage.  At Christmas that year, three American astronauts in Apollo 8 circled the moon providing a smoothing balm to a horrendous twelve months.  And that was the year McDonalds introduced the iconic Big Mac hamburger (hmm, a plus or minus for the American waistline?).

Eventually the Vietnam War ended, African-Americans began playing football for Auburn and Alabama, air-conditioning proved ubiquitous in the South and families still gathered for festivals and funerals.  Six of the seven children of Ulyss and Pearl rendezvoused in Irondale that July 1968 and forthcoming decades.  (Melton, the first born, had died in 1958.)

Now I am age 71 (gasp).  This summer of 2018, Bishop, my father died at age 98, and the children of that 1907 marriage are no more with us.  But of course the seven still are....with us.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Passing of a Generation, Part 3

The Formal Obituary of Homer Bishop Holliman, 1919-2018

Homer Bishop Holliman, 98, passed away June 9, 2018, after a short illness in Cookeville, Tennessee.  Bishop Holliman was born in Irondale, Alabama, December 17, 1919, to Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman. 

He was preceded in death by his three wives, Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick, mother of his three children; Anne McLaughlin Holliman and Ellen Parks Cox Holliman.  Also, he was preceded in death by his brothers and sisters, Melton, Vena, Euhal, Loudelle, Virginia and Ralph.

Right in 1965, Euhal, Vena, Bishop, Loudelle and Ralph.  Below with his father, Ulyss (1884-1965).

He was a graduate of Shades Cahaba High School, Birmingham-Southern College, B.A., and the University of Alabama, M.Ed. 

He served from 1941-1945 in the U.S. Navy on destroyers in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean as a radioman listening for Nazi U-Boats. He was at the 1943 Invasion of Sicily in 1943 and escorted transports in the English Channel after the D-Day Invasion. In 2015 he was a member of a World War II Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

After the war, he taught school for six years in Homewood, Alabama.

His career with the Social Security Administration began in 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama.  He worked in Johnson City, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Gadsden, Alabama and Cookeville, Tennessee where he served as manager of the SSA District office from 1964 to 1983.  He received two commissioners’ awards for Outstanding Service from Elliott Richardson, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and from Robert Ball, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. 

Mr. Holliman was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church and was active in church and civic affairs in Cookeville including president of Rotary Club, the United Way, the Red Cross, and the Regional Library Board and was a longtime member of the Friendship Sunday School Class of FUMC. He was a Paul Harris Fellow of the Cookeville Rotary Club.  He helped in preservation of the railroad depot and its conversion into a railroad museum.  For many years he wrote a column entitled “Aunt Polly” for the Cookeville Dispatch. Upon his retirement from the SSA, he was a columnist for the Cookeville Herald-Citizen and was a regular contributor to the HighBaller, a publication of the Depot Museum.

Survivors: Mr. Holliman is survived by three children, Glenn N. Holliman (Barbara) of Newport, PA; Rebecca Holliman Payne (Paul) of Cookeville, Tennessee and Alice Holliman Murphy (Bill) of Trophy Club, Texas.  He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Grace Holliman, Bryan Payne, Erin Murphy Hensley, Chris Holliman, Jonathan Murphy, Allison Payne Mahan, Patrick Murphy and Sean Murphy and eighteen great-grandchildren; Will, Holly, Drew, Camille, Juliana, Heidi, Macy, Josalyn, Zachary, Katie Grace, Abel, Raimey, Derek, John, Jake, Killian, Ashton and Mia.
Christmas, 2017 in Cookeville, Tennessee, Bishop seated is surrounded by his children, many grandchildren and great grandchildren, the last group photograph made.  He is wearing his World War II cap.  This picture was made at the Cookeville Train Depot which he helped finance.
In addition, Lori Griggs and Logan McClain, caregivers for Mr. Holliman in his last months are recognized for their dedication and many kindnesses, as well as the staff at Heritage Point.

Many of the writings of H. Bishop Holliman, his memories of Irondale, Alabama in the 1930s, his war memoirs and reflections on life can be found at, a virtual archives of Holliman and associated family manuscripts and papers.  - Glenn N. Holliman

The Passing of a Generation, Part 2

Further Reflections on the Passing of My Father, 
H. Bishop Holliman, 1919-2018
by Glenn N. Holliman

In 1919, when my father first saw daylight, the victorious allies of World War I forced a revengeful Treaty of Versailles on a defeated Germany.  That same year an angry and disgruntled 28 year-old German army veteran of that War to End All Wars joined the fledgling National Socialist party in Munich.  Adolph Hitler’s acquisition of power in 1933 would eventually turn my Father’s life upside down, as it did hundreds of millions of others around the world. 

The 1920 Federal Census reported that for the first time a majority of Americans no longer lived on a farm but made their lives and daily bread in a town or city.  As with millions of others, the trajectory of the Holliman family in the early 1900s was in the direction of urban life. 

Part of farm life continued into Alabama urban areas.  Here ca 1921, Bishop plays in the family chicken yard.  He is still in ‘baby clothes’.  The family raised chickens for decades and for a time in the late 1930s had a milk cow. 

As normal for many Americans of the time, Bishop’s parents, Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman, had only sixth and eighth grade educations from a rural county school.  However, thanks to the move to Irondale, Alabama during World War I, the educations attained by their children would make an incredible difference in their lives and those of the grandchildren, i.e. yours truly.

May 1921 Ulyss Holliman contracted for $2,000 a six room, 28ft by 42ft unpainted house to be constructed at 2300 3rd Avenue North on a large hill lot in the E.N. Montgomery sub-division.  The plot overlooked the busy railroad yard and tracks that dominated the central corridor of Irondale. 

Above, left to right, six of the seven children of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman - Vena, Euhal, Loudelle, Melton holding Virginia and Bishop in front, ca 1923 before Ralph was born in 1925.  Both Melton and Euhal in knickers and caps.  Vena in her Sunday best. My father is wearing a hat held down by Euhal, and carries a stick and wears white short pants.

It was the existence of the railroad that had led the Hollimans to Irondale Pearl’s father, William Lee Caine, from Fayette County took a job as a watchman for the railroad and moved his wife Lula Hocutt Caine and daughter Vista to this new community, only a few decades old.  A short time later, perhaps 1917, Pearl’s family followed as did her other sister, Maude Caine Cook and her family.

The all-wooden house was wired for that new marvel of that generation – electricity – but alas not running water or an indoor bathroom.  Such would be added in 1936.  Until then the family heated water in a huge cast iron pot every Saturday night and took a bath as my father said  ‘whether we needed it or not’.  As Irondale had suffered a devastating tornado in the early 1900s, my grandfather built a simple earth shelter into the side of the hill.  Fortunately, it was never needed, and it eventually collapsed.

Below the house at 2300 3rd Avenue North, Irondale, Alabama in 2013.

My grandfather caught the bus, later the street car, for the short ride to Birmingham to work six days a week, from the family home in Irondale, Alabama.  Later thanks to the Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Ulyss’s work week was reduced to forty hours.  My branch of the Holliman families were Republicans, unusual for the times in the Deep South.  

Ironically, although opposed to most of the domestic programs of the 1930s Democratic administration, few persons benefited more from Federal programs than did my grandfather and father – for example, Social Security, labor unions, paid vacations, public works and college work programs.

As the fifth child of seven, my father grew up surrounded by siblings in a religious home.  His parents raised the children in a conservative Methodist tradition, prohibited dancing, card playing, alcoholic beverages and insisted on weekly attendance at church, often twice on Sunday. 

Below the family ca 1924 in a highly productive garden.  Cousin James Cook has joined the photograph, probably taken by Ulyss Holliman.  

The family did purchase a radio in 1929.  Bishop remembered his Mother allowed him to stay home from school to listen to the inaugural speech of President Herbert Hoover that year.  

The Hoover years were cursed with the Great Depression, the central reality of my father’s adolescence in the 1930s.  In 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany and by 1941, Dad was in the U.S. Navy and once again the United States was in a World War.

For several years I have been writing the history of this Alabama family before and during World War II.  The stories of Bishop, his parents, siblings, in-laws and the children to come are articulated at this blog site.  If I live long enough and my mind stays clear, I hope to carry on these stories into the post war years. The formal obituary of my father is contained in the next article on the Passing of this Generation. - GNH

An Alabama Family in World War II, Part 39

Melton Pearson Holliman’s Difficult War
by Glenn N. Holliman

My Uncle Melton died early in 1958, age only 49, prematurely taken by heart disease.  He was a pharmaceutical salesman in 1943, having learned his craft while working in his Uncle Floyd Caine’s drug store in the late 1920s.  Melton was the first born of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman’s seven children, and the first to pass away. 

Another three decades would elapse before another child of my grandparents would leave this world, this being my Uncle Euhal Holliman in 1989. According to his daughter Tommie Holliman Allen, Euhal also had heart issues, complicated by rheumatic fever contracted when a child.  This chronic condition, plus being the father of four children, kept Euhal from being drafted during World War II.

The draft by 1943 was reaching deeper and deeper into the available pool of able-bodied American males.  That August, Melton, age 35, was inducted into the Army at Ft. McClellan, Georgia and within a month was shipped to Camp Barkeley, Texas for basic and advanced training.  From September to February 1944, except for a six-day furlough in January 1944, he slogged through first the dust and then the mud of this hastily established military facility on the Texas plains. 

Left, Melton in uniform; note the medical corp insignia on his collar.  This picture suggests a physical resemblance to World War II swing band leader, Glenn Miller.

Melton’s letters home, which I have used to construct this narrative, are poignant, expressing the homesickness of almost every G.I. caught up in the maelstrom of World War II.  My uncle had additional reasons to pen moving words back to Alabama.  

He and his wife of eleven years, Ida Hughes Holliman, had adopted in April 1943, a curly haired, red-headed bundle of joy, an infant daughter, Patti (whom Melton called Patsy).  Melton was to miss the critical, unrecoverable months of Patti beginning to walk, talk and capture the hearts of the entire Holliman clan.

“Christmas Morning, December 25, 1943

My Dearest Precious Ones,

There is a lot I could write this morning, but it would make me bluer and I know you’d be blue when you read it….so I won’t do it.  Deep down in your heart you probably know how I feel.

I spent all of yesterday in the hut.  Did not even go to the PX after I called you.  It rained most of the day and the mud was awful.  We will have our Christmas dinner at 1 pm.  Will have turkey and all the trimmings.  The mess hall is gaily decorated in ‘Xmas’ tree and everything. 

Last night after we went to bed the choir from our chapel came through the company streets singing Christmas songs.  There were about 50 soldiers in the choir…the singing was beautiful.  Before we retired, all of us in the hut sang songs.  I was a half way leader of the singing.

Above, Melton, back row, second from right, and his fellow troops.  Note the tar paper huts, constructed in 1940.  The camp once held 50,000 trainees before closing in April 1945 near the end of the war.  No doubt these are the fellow homesick soldiers who joined in the singing on Christmas eve.

I heard this morning that we were to finish up here entirely January 15th.  I am still classified a pharmacist. 

I hope you enjoy your Christmas party at Moma’s.  I sure wish I could be there with you.  I am not on KP today.  The Jewish boys were put on; I think that was fair enough.  They don’t observe Christmas.  

Baby, my prayer is that next Christmas we can be together…so I hope you had a Merry Xmas and I love you very, very much.  Melton”

Left, Patti Holliman (Hairston) and her first cousin, John Melton Ferrell, third child of Charles and Loudelle Holliman Ferrell, 1943.

Sadly, Melton would not be home for Christmas in 1944. In late autumn, he was evacuated from his medical unit in France and  hospitalized in England for high blood pressure and other unspecified ailments  December 1944.  He later was shipped home and reunited with his wife and child in the winter 1945.  Apparently, this serious episode was the first manifestation of a heart condition that would later take his life prematurely.

Below, the training schedule for part of December 1943 at Camp Barkeley, near Abilene, Texas.

Living in the barracks required a strict regimen of tidiness and hygiene as the demerit list indicates!

Next posting more on an Alabama family engulfed in World War II and how their lives were forever changed.....

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Passing of a Generation, Part 1

The last child of Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman has Passed, and the Greatest Generation comes to an End
By Glenn N. Holliman

My father, Homer Bishop Holliman, left picture 2002, born December 17, 1919, breathed his last at 3:10 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2018.  He was surrounded at his Cookeville, Tennessee hospital bed by his three children – Becky, Alice and yours truly.  And my two children, Grace and Chris and Becky’s son, Bryan.  His last illness was only a few days and mercifully largely free of pain and discomfort.

My Dad lived through 40% of the history of the United States, his days largely spent in the 2oth Century America.  A prolific writer, he recorded stories of his family, his growing up in Alabama and his observations on the time and culture in which he moved and had his being.

His parents, Ulyss and Pearl, born respectively in 1884 and 1888 in rural Fayette County, Alabama, were descendants of 17th century immigrants from the British Isles.  In 1836, my branch of the Hollimans migrated to west Alabama from the Carolina's.

Dad’s grandfather, John Thomas Holliman, 1844-1930, photo right 1900, fought in seven major battles for the Confederacy in the 1860s serving under Braxton Bragg, James Longstreet and Robert E. Lee.  He returned home in 1865, became a ‘dirt farmer’, had six sons, the last being Ulyss.  My father knew his grandfather and remembered him as a tall ancient man, thin with a long white beard.  John Thomas Holliman was almost illiterate and died a year before his wife, Martha Jane Walker.  My great grandmother’s father, Samuel Walker, experienced the three days at Gettysburg and the siege of Petersburg, including the tragedy at the Crater.

Ulyss married Pearl Elmer Caine, a neighboring girl, when she was 18 around 1906.  (Pictured below in 1945.) He is listed in the 1910 census as a farmer.  Soon the children began to appear – Melton in 1908, Vena in 1909, Euhal in 1912 and Loudelle in 1914.  Some time in those years, the family left the farm and moved to the village of Fayette.  There Ulyss found employment in the local lumber mill.

Their world was rapidly changing – oil lamps were giving way to electric lights and horses to motorized carriages.  And 50 or so miles away by railroad, a ‘magic’ city, powered by coal, limestone, iron ore and northern capital, was growing rapidly offering economic opportunity and a way for a father to better support his four children.  So in 1917, this Holliman family moved to a suburb of Birmingham – Irondale -  a railroad switching yard for a growing number of freight and passenger trains that tied an emerging southern economy to a more financially robust America.

Before long, three additional children came along – Bishop in 1919, Virginia in 1922 and Ralph in 1925.  Pearl was 37 and Ulyss 41, when their family was complete.  Ulyss, good with his hands, took employment as a carpenter with the Birmingham Electric Company, a corporation which ran the municipal street car line.  When my grandfather was born, there were no street cars in Birmingham and when he died in 1965, there were no street cars.  But in between these technological eras, he worked 32 years repairing the wooden cars and supporting a family of nine persons.

That move from the land, where countless ancestors had toiled, to a newly industrialized urban area changed everything for my father’s generation.  As President Franklin Roosevelt remarked in the 1930s, this generation had a rendezvous with destiny, and so it was to be.

Continued soon to Part 2….

Saturday, April 28, 2018

An Alabama Family in World War II, Part 38

by Glenn N, Holliman

Letters of my Grandmother, Fall 1943

In August 1943, Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman, ages 59 and 55, of Irondale, Alabama saw their oldest son, Melton P. Holliman, b 1908, inducted in the U.S. Army. Two young sons, Bishop, b. 1919, U. S. Navy, and Ralph, b. 1925, U.S. Army, had been called to the colors earlier.  Now the fourth and last son, Euhal, b. 1914, and father of three pre-school children, had received notice.  

Son-in-law, Walter Cornelius was in training, but there are fewer letters to trace his war as he was state-side until 1945. His wife, Virginia, b 1922, was able to travel with him to several of his postings.

Left, Walter and Virginia, in California, a young couple a long way from Alabama.

Pearl wrote from September to November 1943 numerous letters.  Exerts are below.

“Well, I guess Euhal will have to go in a few months.  It looks like all the men will go up to (age) #38.  We are doing our part as best we can and looking forward to you boys all coming home soon.  May the Lord bless and keep you. Love, Mother H.

We had a bond rally in Irondale last nite and us women are to go from house to house to sell bonds.”

Above, forty years after the war, 1985, beginning with Vena on the far left, Loudelle, Bishop, Ralph, Virginia, Ida and Euhal, closest to the camera.

My father, Bishop, had just returned from the Mediterranean where his destroyer provided vital shell fire at the invasion beach in Gela, Sicily and experienced a Luftwaffe attack at Palermo.  The USS Butler returned to Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Bishop was sent for refresher code training at Cisco Bay, Maine before transfer to the USS Barker later that month.  June 1943 until June 1945, he would spend approximately 75% of his time at sea escorting convoys.

A great deal of my grandmother’s letters had to do with sharing changing address of her sons in training and assignments.  That month of September 1943, she wrote Bishop:

Ida (Melton’s wife) just called; she had just got a wire.  Melton is in Abilene, Texas at Camp Barkley.  He came through Irondale and Birmingham last Friday.  Too bad all of you have to come so close to home and can’t stop.  Be sure and write to him.  He will be lonely.”

Right, Melton in autumn, 1943, training as a medic in the Army.

Bishop, Ralph and Melton, all three, at one time during the war traveled by train through Irondale within sight of their grandmother Lula Caine’s house.

"Bishop called Saturday night, and Motie (Ralph’s wife) got a telegram from Ralph, both in New York (Bishop and Ralph).  Wouldn’t it be grand if they could have run into each other…Jr. Caine (a nephew of Pearl’s) came home last week.  He really is a good-looking man now, weight 174 pd.  He had not been home in over two years.

Ira and Patsy (Melton’s 1-year old daughter) came out last week.  Patsy is some smart girl.  Virginia, Mary and Vena say the new boy (Bob Daly, b. 10/1943) looks like me.  

I tell them it does not.  You know you can’t tell who they look like when so young.”

Right, 1952, Ulyss, Pearl and Bishop

Pearl wrote in October about Ralph who had been stationed in Reno, Nevada:

“We finally heard from Ralph.  He is somewhere in England. Motie got a cable from him.  I sure was glad to hear from him….They have just announced London was bombed last night and a dance hall bombed with lots of soldiers and girls killed. Ralph wrote he had not been to London yet so he must be close by. So he needs our prayers.

I hope he will never go near a dance hall.  If bombs don’t fall. They are loaded with sin bombs.”

My grandmother’s language is disjointed, but she believed dancing was sinful.  Her education ended in the 8th grade in a rural Fayette County, Alabama school.  Raised Methodist. she and Ulyss joined the evangelical Christian Alliance Gospel Tabernacle in Birmingham in the mid-1930s.  Their adult children remained Methodist or Baptist, and a mild rift occurred between the generations.

Left, Ulyss Holliman, second from the right, in a Birmingham News photograph, ca 1950, an elder in the Gospel Tabernacle Church.

Next posting, letters from Bishop at sea, Ralph in England and Melton in Texas.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

An Alabama Family in World War II, Part 37

by Glenn N. Holliman

A Letter from Robert W. Daly, Sr.

These exerts are from an October 2, 1943 letter which my Uncle Robert wrote in his humorous fashion to my father of the birth of  Robert W. Daly, Jr. on Sunday, October 3, 7:55 pm.  Robert (1901-1959) was a bank manager in Woodlawn, Alabama.  My Aunt Vena, cousin Mary and Robert lived on 3rd Avenue North, Irondale, next door to his father and mother-in-law, Ulyss and Pearl Caine Holliman, my grandparents. 

TO: H.B. Holliman, USS Bulter, Fleet Post Office, New York, New York
FROM: Bankers Boulevard, Irondale, Alabama

We are not looking for the baby before around the 15th of this month, but yesterday Vena broke water we have been holding our breath every since, expecting any minute for the pains to start and then my pain starts trying to get her over to St. Vincent's before it is born on the road with me delivering with one hand and driving with the other one.  I do not know what the feet will be doing while all this is going on, driving I guess.

I may have to take over there any minute, so if it happens, before Monday a.m. I will add it on to this letter.  We have Martha Jane, Barbara Ann, and other names picked out but still can't decide on one, also Betty Daly.

Vena and daughter Mary
Daly Herrin, ca 1936
Vena insists if it is a boy that it be Robert William Daly Jr.; she says this is a refined name.  How's that for a break?  Can you believe it could come from your sister after living with the old boy for 15 years and still speaking to me.  Vena has been getting along pretty well except for losing some sleep. She has not been sick but a few times.

PS - Monday, October 4, 1943

Well, she started to hurt around 4 a.m. Sunday morning, so we got up and dressed and fixed a light breakfast.  She got easy, so I went back and lay down and slept until seven thirty.  About 4 pm she had two or three hard pains, and I called the we started for St. Vincent's, all the way over I thought it would be born in the car, but finally we got there after some speeding.  The nurse told me when she examined her that I would not have to wait long, probably 2 hours.

                                                                       Robert William Daly with his curly black hair.

In a few minutes I saw the nurse rush up to the phone and I listened in to her conversation and she told the doctor to come on over at once the baby was about to be born.  Finally the doctor got there and went into deliver the baby.  In about 20 minutes I heard them patting the baby on the back or somewhere to help bring it to or get the throat clear....After about five minutes the nurse came by and told your Mother and myself it was a boy and it was fine.  After a little bit they brought Vena out and let us see the baby; it was wrinkled and looked old like all new born babies do when they first come out.  You know how your hands look some time when you wash them too much and they draw up after painting or something.  It weighted six pounds and five ounces and was perfect in other respects, no hair.  

We left her about 11 pm and came home, and this morning Vena was doing fine and not hurt but very little.  The baby has come out something wonderful over night and has a smooth complexion, Holliman features, Holliman nose, black curly hair which came out overnight, blue eyes. He seems to be perfect in every respect.  He is a very pretty baby, in fact about as pretty as I ever saw to be so young.  I think he will be an asset to the Holliman generation with a mixture of Daly and Holliman.  This should make him a very bright lad with two distinguished bloods mixed in one pot.  

The Daly family - Vena, Bob, Mary and Robert, Christmas 1943, Irondale, Alabama

Vena will probably be home in about five days if all goes well.  As you know she insisted on naming it Robt Wm Daly, Jr in honor of the old man.  I was not so hot on this, but she was the one to do all the suffering so let her have her way.  

If I have left out any details which you would like to know, just drop me a line and I will into details.  this may not be in detail enough for you.


My Uncle Robert included many additional details in this letter so his last sentence is a sample of his understated but every present Irish humor.  In time Robert ceased referring to his son as 'it" and nicknamed him affectionately as 'Bud'.  The 'bright lad' referred to in the letter became a Ph.D. in biological sciences and a college professor, thus fulfilling his proud father's prophecy! - GNH