Life of Zelma Jane Simmons Phelps
|My life began in a hospital in Stockton, Missouri, on August 24, 1935.
It was a bit unusual to be born in a hospital in those days but my parents
had lost a baby girl, who was born and died within 24 hours, so they didn't
want to take any chances with me. I always felt a lot of love and I believe
it had a lot to do with that particular incident.
I remember several things about my early childhood, most of them from five years old on. I remember waiting in the kitchen with my father and two brothers, one older, when my first sister was born in the living room. I didn't really know what was happening but I felt the excitement.
We had a cat named Snowball at this time which would watch for my father, who was a farmhand, to walk a half mile from where he worked with a pail of milk. He would always pour the cat a dish before he brought it in the house. Unfortunately he eventually got ran over by a car. That was the first time I had thought much about death.
When I was six years old I remember a really traumatic time when a boy who was in my school, drowned in a pond. I kept hearing my parents talk about how his hand came out of the water for the third time and then he was dead. I really had trouble accepting that he could have died so young. My father took me and my older brother to the funeral. I think at that time I wasn't so close to boy as I wanted to see a dead person. To make matters worse a pond was build not far from our house and my mother never stopped warning us to stay away from it. By that time I was scared of water for life, and I never did learn to swim.
I eventually had three brothers and two sisters. When I was seven my third little brother was born. When we awoke one morning my parents told us we had a baby brother. They said the doctor had driven down in a horse and buggy, which he actually did, and left us a baby. One of the things I asked my mother was, "How come every time you get sick, we have a new baby." I don't remember what her answer was but I guess I was satisfied.
In 1943 our family moved to IL in the back of a truck driven by two of my uncles. I was very excited about this because I got to meet my mothers family for the first time that I could remember.
When I was in forth grade my second sister was born. At this time there were two things I remember well. World War II ended with my father shooting a shot gun in the air and I learned to ride a pony bareback. I attended a country school and a neighbor boy brought his pony by and let us ride it. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to ride like that again after we moved away when I was in sixth grade.
In 1948 We moved to a small town where I finished grade school and High School, graduating in 1953. Because my family were poor I earned money running errands for a nice lady and baby sitting. The summer before I was sixteen I started working at a café and actually worked there for three years.
In the summer of 1955 I moved to another town nearby and that is where I met and married my husband of 45 years. We were married four months after we met on January 14th, 1956. Ten months later we had a little girl On November 8th, 1956. Our first son was born on May 5, 1959 and Our second son on October 24th, 1961. All three have been a constant joy to Art and I. We lived in the house in Cambridge for 35 years. We worked, raised our family and all told have been very happy and very lucky. I feel very blessed to have given birth to and bringing then to adulthood.
We are also blessed with two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
In 2001 we sold our house and move to California where we will hopefully live happy ever after. Sounds like a fairy tale but maybe that's what life is all about.