This article was included in the Sheridan Historical Society booklet for "Sheridan Celebrates" held September 28, 2013.
Both of our parents lived a very traditional American experience, being reared in hard working, rural Kansas families. The TV series "Little House on the Prairie" is a very accurate picture of how they were raised. Doris Irene Brindle and Wilfred Denis Corbin were born in 1919, within a month of one another. They grew up in two small, north central Kansas towns within 50 miles of the other without ever having met while growing up.
She was the first born, so necessarily learned to help raise her six younger siblings (Nina, Carol, Daphne, Gladys, Jack, and Leonore) while living on their depression-era farm. During the worst of times, Grandpa Brindle not only farmed, but also worked at times as the local school janitor to make ends meet. Most meals came from the garden, as well as from their chickens, pigs and milk cows.
Walking five miles to and from school in a freezing blizzard was not a trite expression to Mom, as education was her parents' priority. Late in high school, she suffered a serious bout with "rheumatic fever" an illness common in children back then. She persevered to graduate on time and with good grades despite having to finish her senior year from home, under the tutelage of her mother (who was well qualified as she had been a school teacher prior to getting married).
After graduation, Mom conspired with a cousin (and close girlfriend) to venture to the big city. They moved to a downtown Denver apartment and found waitressing jobs. She began attending the Denver Art Institute to develop her natural talent in art, dreaming of a future in designing women's clothing styles.
Within months, her roommate happened to run into two fellas from Kansas Walt and Bill. She talked Mom into going on a double date with her. The moment they began the date, she only had eyes for Bill, even though she'd been matched up with Walt. The story she often told was that Dad's smile and gentlemanly manner swept her off her feet. His respectful ways quickly convinced Mom that she'd found her knight in shining armor. Within six weeks, on June 27, 1941, they were married in a stone Presbyterian church that still stands just south of the Colorado State Capital. They began their life together in a studio apartment near Colfax and 14th Street.
Mom and Dad found comfort in being married during very challenging and difficult days. The radio and papers' headlines were constantly discussing the rise and aggression of the Nazi regime in Europe as well as the Japanese quest to conquer all of Asia. Some of you may remember or have read that Hitler was beginning his bloody murder of Jews and Christians.
The next year, their first child, Esther, was born to a very sick, young mother, as she barely survived systemic toxemia during the last stages of her pregnancy. They later moved to a "house trailer" at a mobile home park just south of Alameda, on South Federal. An "intimate" place was home and life was good even though the world was becoming a far more dangerous place. I remember Mom recounting their life together and fearing that the world was going crazy! Many said that the world would soon come to a horrific end possibly the end-of-days. Late in 1941, this young family was witness to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt announcing America's entry into this worldwide conflict. They knew that Dad would soon be sent to foreign lands to fight this terrible evil.
Dad's boss wrote a recommendation for him that led the U.S. Navy to enlist him as a 3rd Class Petty Officer, Carpenter's Mate, in a new Navy battalion named the "Seabees" and he was soon off to war. Mom and Esther moved back in with the grandparents to wait out the war, praying that her husband would one day soon walk up to the door, a valiant sailor, still in one piece.
Only after Dad's unit completed landing on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion, then 3 years in the Philippines, preparing for a Japanese invasion, did he finish that walk to reclaim his girls. They all too soon moved to the Naval base in Oxnard, California when Dad returned to active duty, shipping out to Korea. In all, they were a military family for eight years. Is it any wonder why today their generation is now referred to as the hero generation?
After Dad's discharge, they settled in north Denver, on a piece of land in their little trailer and a new outhouse. After nine years of difficulty with numerous miscarriages, a son, Billy, was born then 18 months later, Mary was born. Needing more living space, Dad employed his Navy connections to acquire a Navy barracks from Buckley Field and with his Seabee carpenter skills, he and Mom constructed the interior to create a more comfortable home.
Esther and I clearly remember all to well the day that he decided to retire our chilly, outdoor restroom. Mom laughed so hard that she could hardly stand up after Dad accidentally slid knee-deep into the open outhouse pit. Thats when I first learned about how sailors put their anger into words!
Being farmers at heart as well as modest in income, Mom and Dad raised some of our vegetables and planted beds of colorful flowers along the borders of our yard. For one of our Thanksgivings, they bought a live turkey a tom that I quickly adopted as my pet. When it came to the day Tom was to lose his head, I began to hysterically cry and took it upon myself to save his life with my unrelenting pleas to convince Mom to give Tom a reprieve. She told me that they gave him a new home at a local farm but much later when I looked back on it, I decided that it must have been Toms drumstick that tasted so good during that Thanksgiving dinner. Mom I forgive you!
Mom and Dad decided that they needed to move up in the world, so they bought a brand-spankin new home across from Adams City High School. I remember them spending long hours painting the walls in preparation for our move while we played across the room. Since I was feeling very outnumbered by sisters, I was really happy when Mom brought a chubby, little brother, Jimmy, home from St. Lukes Hospital. At least now they had balanced out our family!
In 1957 we moved to the City of Sheridan, down along Bear Creek. Mary, Jim, and I spent all of our school years in Sheridan schools and Esther graduated from the nearly new Sheridan High School, and went off to Arizona to college. Later the family moved to Farmdale Road.
Mom and Dad loved our country and the political process. She was so proud when Dad was elected to City Treasurer, Councilman, and Mayor. In all of their fervor about our way of life in Americans democracy, she and Dad taught us to care about our country, to appreciate our freedom and to accept social responsibility.
One of the happiest days in her life was their 50th wedding anniversary. And clearly the most difficult day of her life was the day that Dad left us on to eternity.
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