A Patchwork of Memories

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I was born Hazel Marie Woodworth in Kansas City, Mo., April 30, 1920, the youngest of five children. <rest of sketch withheld as it contains names and information on people who are of an age to still be living>


By Hazel Marie Woodworth Hodgen Maxwell

Since Daddy worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Co. all during my childhood, we occasionally traveled free on passes. Riding on trains became as common to me then, as airplane trips are to children nowadays.

Sometimes trains were not truly very glamorous. There was no air conditioning then, and if the weather necessitated opening the windows the passengers often got painful cinders in their eyes. There was considerable dust and noise to tolerate. I often wondered how rich youíd have to be to afford the elegant diner car meals, sitting at tables covered with white starched linens. I guessed it was only for bankers, presidents, and movie stars; certainly it was not f or us Woodworths. On long trips we may have eaten in a diner a time or two, but usually we took along sandwiches and fruit which carried us over.

At the age of nine or ten we rode the train from Kansas City to Defiance, Ohio to visit my Great Aunt Mary Haasch and other family. Uncle Lewis Haasch had just died and Aunt Mary now resided in her big enchanting brick home all alone, so our visit was a delight to her. I greatly admired her and the gracious house and neighborhood. She took us to the nearby cemetery mausoleum where Lewis was entombed in austere marble. She said, "I will be laid to rest beside him someday." I was deeply impressed and sad because I loved her very much.

One day while there in Defiance, Papa took me walking, to the railroad station. He left me on a big carved bench while he visited the men's lounge. A strange man sat down beside me, and asked if I wouldnít like to take a fun trip with him on the nice train that would be leaving shortly. He assured me he would be very good to me and Iíd have a nice time.

Frozen with fear, I knew not what of, I backed away with him following me. Suddenly Papa was returning so I ran to him; however by the time I could make Papa understand what happened, the stranger had boarded the train which was puffing out of the station.

Mother and Great Aunt Mary were horrified when told of the incident, and I was given directions to scream and to run to the nearest ticket window or policeman or any woman in view if such a thing ever reoccured. (It hasnít happened again to date.)

It was 1932 and I was 12 years old that year. We all vacationed in Canoga Park, California, a Los Angeles suberb. Traveling west from Kansas City by train we passed through the beautiful Rocky Mountains, I remember it was a truly a magnificent train ride. We went to Dadís sisterís chicken ranch. Aunt May and Uncle Harry Watson had sold their Perry, Oklahoma farm and moved west. The ranch was a beautiful place; all palm trees, orange trees and flowers around a white spanish type bungalow, with the longest snow white chicken house in the world. It stretched straight back seemingly for two city blocks, and was filled with noisy chickens. Daily they collected thousands of eggs which kept them busy to crate and be ready for the route men to pick up.

In 1933 our family traveled by train to Chicago to the Century of Progress Exposition. I felt like Alice in Wonderland at this Worlds Fair. The city of Chicago with all its elevated tracks caused me to have dreams for years afterwards; some of which were nightmares with a lion chasing me over elevated tracks!

One afternoon we took the "El train" up to Chicago Heights suburb to visit Dada brother Charles Woodworth and his wife. We were staying in a hotel but they invited us over for dinner. Uncle Charles was a dentist and his wife rather a "social climber", (I think my Mother called her that!). I have never seen them but that one time and Mother seldom mentioned them as I recall. No doubt Mother felt "If you canít say something good, itís best not to say anything". Mother told me this old maxim many times thru the years. It was one of her rules of conduct.

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