Friday, March 4, 2016

Episode 23 - January 1999 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace

Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999

This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began.

Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…

Episode 23 - Christopher, in his office, Thursday morning, with Bruce

Bruce: Here is the Birth Certificate I promised to show you.

Christopher: Thank you. [Paused, as he read it] This says your mother was Ethel Randolph, and your name is Bruce William Randolph. Her parents’ name spaces are blank as well as the father space. What can you tell me about that? Also, a Carlos Chevez provided the information? Who is that?

Bruce: Well, you certainly asked the pertinent questions. Let me tell you what I know. I suppose I should say ‘what I’ve been told.’ I know of no one living today who was there. Carlos Chevez was the father of my mother’s roommate during the years she lived in New York City. The roommate’s name was Bernice. Her mother was Maria. Carlos and Maria raised me. Virtually all I know is information they told me, as I was growing up, before they each died, in the 1970s. Bernice died in the late 1950s. I don’t recall ever seeing her. [He paused… reflecting.]

Christopher: OK, tell me more.

Bruce: They told me that my mother called herself Ethel Randolph from the day she arrived in New York City. It was not until fairly recently that I even questioned that. The only physical thing they gave me that they said was hers, that she wanted me to have, was a wooden box with some of her scarves, and some small costume jewelry, in it. I kept it on a shelf. A couple of years ago, I picked it up, and for the first time, apparently, I looked at the bottom. There were the words: “McDonald - Missouri.” I initially assumed that was the maker of the box, or where she had purchased it. I gave it no further thought, but the words apparently stuck in my head. When I say the newspaper article about the McDonald Conservancy grant from the State of Missouri - “McDonald - Missouri” rang up in my mind.  

Christopher: We didn’t even know about Ethel. How did you make the connection?

Bruce: The Conservancy story gave the family names and location. I knew from the stories about when she came, so it was the 1920 census information that confirmed for me her name, when I got to that. It did take some searching, many dead ends along the way.

Christopher: How did the Chevez couple happen to take you in? What happened to your mother? To Bernice?

Bruce: Ethel, my mother, died just a few days after I was born, they said. Complications from childbirth, it says on her death certificate.

Christopher: Do you have a copy of that, as well?

Bruce: Yes, I do. Here is a copy.

Christopher: May 1st, 1939. Most interesting. Carlos was the informant on this document, as well?

Bruce: Yes. The way I understand it, my mother had actually gotten closer to Carlos and Maria than their own daughter. Especially after she got pregnant and was going to have a baby. Bernice really didn’t want anything to do with it. It seems she pulled clear away from the situation. At the same time, it seemed her parents became very protective of my mother. We’ll never know all the details, of course. Carlos was an accountant. Very respected in the Cuban-American community they lived in. I think he looked after the money my mother had accumulated, as well. She actually left more than I would have expected. Carlos kept it invested. By the time I was of age, it actually got me started in my own brokerage business.

Christopher: Really. Do you know how much she had ‘accumulated?’

Bruce: It was something in excess of $10,000 at the time of her death.

Christopher: Interesting. She must have gotten some pretty good roles. Did she work other than acting?

Bruce: Not that I ever heard of. [End of Part I]

[To be continued - next Friday]

"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."

Dr. Bill  ;-)


  1. So Bruce's proof here is not so cut and dry, very interesting Bill. Thanks and looking forward to next week :)

    1. Discussion of facts known, will continue, for sure. thanks for your visit and comment, Sam! ;-)

  2. Good job on this thank you for sharing.
    What an ending!

    1. Thank you, Martin. More to come in Part II... ;-)

  3. It's like looking for a needle in the proverbial lead us on an investigative and historical journey and you do it effortlessly....well done, Bill!

    1. Thank you, Bill. I look forward to each of your insights. What fun! ;-)