Fred Wesley Vickers was born April 14th, 1916, the first son and second child of Wesley Call Vickers and Nellie Hilda Falkner.
Wesley and Nellie had met and married in
In 1915, Wesley bought 40 acres of land for $400 from Nellie's great uncle, Thomas S. Knight. By 1917, Wesley had built the home in which he and Nellie would raise their seven children: Margaret (b. February 12, 1914), Fred Wesley, Mary Ellen (b. March 5, 1918), Betty Jane (b. July 15, 1923), Tom Kelly (b. March 24, 1925), Wesley Call, Jr. (b. August 26, 1928), and Earl Ray (b. July 25, 1931).
The family Christmas tree was always placed in the front living room near the fireplace. Fred remembers the Christmas stockings he and sister Margaret would hang on either side of the fireplace mantel. They would eagerly look forward to finding the stockings filled with candy on Christmas morning.
One of Fred's earliest Christmas memories was when he was five or six years old. After going to bed Christmas eve, he decided to quietly creep back down the stairs to see if Santa Claus was there, yet not really believing or expecting him to! Fred's dad was there was dressed in a Santa Claus outfit he had borrowed from the church. Catching his first glimpse (and not really expecting a real Santa), it scared Fred so, that he tore off back up the stairs in fright and amazement!
Fred's grandpa, Kelly Falkner, lived with the family for several years while Fred was in school. They shared the upstairs of the house with the other children. Grandpa Kelly kept bees out in the back yard where he had a large tub (an extractor) made for churning the honey he would bottle to sell. Fred would sometimes accompany him out to the hammocks (swampy areas along the creeks out in the woods) where he would set out something sweet to attract the bees. Then they would follow the bees to their hive in a log or tree where his grandpa would smoke them with his smoker in order to capture them.
At other times, Fred's grandma, Margaret Adeline O'Connor Vickers, would stay with them for several months at a time. Her room was always the upstairs room on the north corner of the house while sister Margaret's room was on the front side of the house upstairs. Fred's room was the large open room at the top of the stairs.
Fred was nine years old when his brother Tom was born. He remembers telling people that he would have to wait nine years before he could play ball (softball) with his new brother Tom! Softball was a favorite sport in school while growing up. Fred and the other school children would usually play during the lunch breaks at school. Other games Fred enjoyed playing as a youth included checkers, which he would often play with his sister Margaret.
During his early years, Fred's home did not have electricity or running
water. Kerosene lamps were used for lighting. The 20' well out in front of the
house supplied them with water. Fred would draw water from the well with a
bucket for his mother to boil the laundry in and then also for the rinse tubs.
The children's baths were taken in a large wash tub in the kitchen. Cooking and
boiling water for laundry and baths was done with a wood burning stove in the
kitchen. Fred would help his grandpa Kelly cut down pine trees and then saw
them into blocks for the wood burning stove. To keep their foods cool in the
ice box, Fred's dad would drive to the ice plant in Punta Gorda
weekly to get a block of ice for the ice box. The earliest family car that Fred
remembers was a Chrysler/Plymouth that his dad started with a crank in front of
the radiator. It was this car that the family took to the Vickers'
Fred was about ten years old when his family travelled up to the Family Reunion in Chipley. This was the first time Fred remembered meeting all his cousins on the Vickers' side. He enjoyed getting to know and playing with his cousins Glen Vickers, Jake and John Leo Brunner, and Colin Shipes--all about his age. Fred especially remembers his cousin Glen because the two of them had gotten into the homemade ice cream, eaten too much, and had gotten sick! Fred always remembered the good times he had with Glen that year. What a treat it was in 1991, when, after 65 years, Fred and Glen met each other again in Atlanta, GA, and reminisced about the good times they had getting to know each other back at that Reunion!
Other memories Fred has of that special visit to Chipley were the good fig
cakes his grandmother would make. The figs would be cut and placed up on the
tin roof to dry out. Fred and his cousins also visited and played out at a
place called "
Fred attended the
Fred had several jobs throughout high school in order to earn money. He and a friend milked cows in a dairy over in Harbor View. There were 13 cows to milk, so in the morning before school, Fred would milk seven and his friend, six. Then in the evening they would trade off: Fred would milk six and his friend, seven. It was also Fred's responsibility to drive the milk truck, delivering milk to Punta Gorda each day. Another job (but mostly fun), Fred would catch small crabs to sell to fishermen guides (Vic Larrison's dad) to use for tarpon bait. Fred also worked in his dad's grocery store while growing up, and later in a grocery store in Punta Gorda, filling grocery list orders for fishermen to take out on their boats, as well as waiting on customers. Fred would sometimes go out fishing on the boats for the day with his friend Vic Larrison, whose dad was a fishing guide.
Other interests Fred had were crabbing on the beach side of the Knight's
place, fishing off the
Margaret Louise Kessler was born September 24, 1915, in
Because of heart-related health problems, B. Frank rented out his jewelry
store and moved his family to
Margaret recalls being frightened as a little girl living above the jewelry store. There had been several burglaries to the jewelry store below. In addition there was a bar next door to their apartment and Margaret remembers the loud brawls that often erupted so close to home. In one instance, Margaret recalls her father being awakened one night as a burglar was attempting to climb from the porch through their second story window. B. Frank successfully frightened the burglar away by calling out "Mom, hand me the gun!" He later rigged up a series of fish hooks hanging from the post to discourage would-be burglars. On another occasion, B. Frank heard a burglar climbing up the porch post. He picked up a large crock pot and threw it down on the burglar, who then became quite irate, accusing B. Frank of throwing a toilet pot on him!
Margaret loved to read and she would often find herself scaling the ladder
to the dusty attic to read the old books stored there. She enjoyed exploring
the contents of old boxes and antique furniture and especially going through
the ancient trunk in which her mother kept many of the old family keepsakes.
She remembers the fun times she and the other children had snow sledding down
the hills in
On several occasions, Tillie would allow Margaret to go visit Viola over in
Selinsgrove by the
Margaret barely remembers her grandmother, Lydia Wetzel Morgan. Grandparents didn't pay much attention to the youngsters, leaving them pretty much to themselves. She does remember, however, that her grandmother made very fine meals, more than enough good food for everyone!
By 1920, Margaret's older brother Frank joined his father in the jewelry and
watch repair business. When B. Frank and Tillie decided to move to
Margaret was in the fourth grade when her family moved to
For the first few months after moving to
Margaret's father owned and often wore a rather large extremely beautiful
six carat diamond ring. Tillie was always worried that someone would see it,
and knock him over the head for it. So the ring eventually ended up in the
bottom of the sugar bowl for safe keeping. It was this ring that B. Frank later
traded for a lot on
Margaret was not happy when her parents required her to repeat the fourth
grade. They were concerned that since the children transferred down mid-year,
they may get behind. Margaret attended the
Margaret notes that her father had quite a temper but that he always handled
it well. She thinks that his temper was probably due to the fact that he never
felt well physically. Another reason she noted for his temper may have been the
trouble and general hard time John and Leroy gave him after they initially
moved back to
Although Margaret describes her father as a nervous type and easily upset, and although she and her mother often disagreed, their home was a secure one and a good sense of humor was never in short supply. Margaret's mother would sometimes drop her dentures below her upper lip and chase the children around the house--a terrifying, but fun experience for the youngsters! Margaret remembers her sister Dorothy putting red pepper in the fudge she made for April Fool's Day! Margaret recalls one time when down on the dock, she said something to cause her brother Paul to get angry. He pulled the locket from around her neck and in return Margaret slapped him! She realized very quickly she had gone too far and saw only one way of escape. Clothes and all she dove into the lake with Paul close behind. Paul chased her across the lake and back again before catching up and making amends! B. Frank would often take the family for two and three week vacations tent camping. There were many good memories in the family and the children, it is said, never once heard their father and mother exchange cross words or argue.
Soon after moving to
During Margaret's junior year in school, Dr. Richard A. Forest, founding
President of Toccoa Falls College and Academy, came
to preach a series of meetings at the
Having grown up in the
Throughout her school years, Margaret Louise Kessler lived with her family
It was at the Youth Group Meetings at the
During their courtship of six years, they enjoyed picnics at Sanlando Springs, double dating, trips to the Sanford
Bridge Pier and
During much of this time Margaret worked at Kress's Department Store in
One day while visiting Margaret's family over on
Fred and Margaret were married on a Sunday afternoon at 5:45 pm, February
16, 1941, in the First Alliance Church of Orlando by the Rev. E. W. Richards
and spent a brief honeymoon in
Fred and Margaret's first child, Colin Paul Vickers, was born November 7, 1942.
In the summer of 1943, when Margaret was several months pregnant with their
second child, Fred enlisted in the United States Navy to serve in World War II.
He reported first to
A summary of Fred's service in the Navy Seabees is as follows: He was
Fred's completed his service with the Seabees with the following schedule, reconstructed from letters and notes:
April 21-29, 1944
Day Leave, (FPO USS Barker,
May 29, 1944 Left the Amphibious Training Base, Little Creek, Virginia
June-July, 1944 (?) North Atlantic Cruises to
August 10, 1944 Boston, Massachusetts
October 3, 1944 USS Barker, Norfolk, Virginia
October 27, 1944 Bermuda; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Scotland Bay, Trinidad
November 5, 1944 Cuba
November 8, 1944 Panama Canal (FPO changed to San Francisco)
February 10-19, 1945 Ten Day Leave, Rank M 1/C, (FPO New York, New York)
March-May, 1945 (?) North Atlantic Cruises to
June, 1945 Dry Dock in Philadelphia waiting for transfer
July 7, 1945 Left the USS Barker
July 8-22, 1945 Sixteen Day Leave, transferred to Mayport (Jax), Florida
August 24, 1945 Arrived San Diego, California
October 22, 1945 Arrived San Pedro, California
November 17, 1945 Discharged
Other ports along the east coast included
Fred's main responsibility while serving on the USS Barker (based out of
Fred and Margaret's second child, Rita Louise, was born January 8, 1944, while Fred was still in the Navy. Margaret recalls working for Kress's during the holiday seasons while Fred was away. Her mother would sit for Colin and Rita while she worked. Fred's service ended November 17, 1945. After the War, Fred and Margaret added three more children to their family: Ted Wesley, April 11, 1946; David Austin, September 14, 1949; and Kelly Glenn, September 29, 1957.
Some of the automobiles Fred and Margaret owned included a 1935 Plymouth B.
Coupe Model PJ acquired by Fred in May of 1937, and a new 1939 Plymouth Coupe
Model P6 acquired by Fred in February of 1939. In September of 1949, the
family was driving a 1939 4-door Hudson Sedan. Later automobiles included a
1954 Chevy Stationwagon, a 1956
Mercury, a 1960's model Plymouth Valiant, a 1973 Plymouth Fury, a 1986
Chevrolet Cavalier, and a 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier. Vacations to the beach,
As the family grew, Margaret began working at the Belk's Department Store,
which was then adjacent to the Colonial Plaza Mall. After this, Margaret took
the position of Baker for the Orange County School Board and worked for over
ten years in this position at the
The correspondence which follows
consists primarily of letters and notes written between Fred and Margaret from
1935 to 1959. The majority of letters were written during two major periods in
their life. The first group was written during their courtship on the occasion
of Margaret visiting her extended family in
Greeting cards for Valentine's Day, Easter, Birthdays, and Christmas were exchanged, kept, and treasured by Fred and Margaret from their first holidays together. All of the correspondence, pictures, and documents will contribute to our overall understanding, appreciation, and love for Mom and Dad and the great influence they have had on our own lives. This volume constitutes a labour of love and is dedicated to the ones after whom it is named--Freddie and Margie Vickers, my parents.
Kelly Glenn Vickers
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Kelly G. Vickers, 50 Trembly Bald Drive, Toccoa, GA 30577
Phone 706-886-0012 Email firstname.lastname@example.org