Eunice Beatrice Graham – born March 10, 1920 — died February 17, 1934.
Such a sad day in the Graham household. We called her Beatrice. She was the quiet, studious, obedient, mother’s helper kind of child. She was the second child born to Andrew and Bess Graham. Marguerite was the first child and a born leader. Beatrice seemed to thrive in Marguerite’s shadow.
I was three and almost four years old when Beatrice died. I remember getting scolded pretty severely because I was playing close to her sick bed and bumped into the bed making Beatrice wince. My mother escorted me (and likely Bob and Janie) out of the room. We were living in this house about 5 miles or so out of Morton. The sandstorms were terrible that year. Beatrice had developed a bad cough and my parents had concluded that she had dust pneumonia. She was too sick to go to school and had gotten dizzy two days before she confined herself to bed.
Mother became concerned and ask Dad to call the doctor. Dr. Logan came to the house and confirmed that it was pneumonia and caused by a bacteria and not just the dust. He suggested hospitalization so she could be observed and kept hydrated. Dad said we did not have any money and couldn’t afford that.
A day or two later, Beatrice stopped taking fluids and had a high fever. During the night mother, who sleeping at her bedside, was awakened due to the shaking of Beatrice’s bed. Beatrice was having a seizure. When morning came, Mother insisted that Andrew take her to the hospital. He relented partially and took her to Levelland where his parents were living at the time. By the time they arrived in Levelland she was having seizures pretty often. The local doctor came and examined her and told the family that she was too far gone and there was nothing he could do.
I was not old enough to understand all of what was happening. Marguerite describes this time of mourning very well in her book, “Growing Up With Eight Siblings During The Depression”. She describes the family waiting at Sam and Belle Graham’s house while the undertaker did the embalming.
Marguerite describes the trip home to Morton and the cemetery as follows: “About noon that day a huge dirt cloud appeared in the west. Before we could get on the road to Morton it hit with a vengeance. It got dark in the house and sticks and rocks were hitting the windows. Daddy said he was glad he’d had the grave diggers dig the grave that morning.
The hearse came by our grandparents’ house about 1:15 PM and we got in our car and followed them to Morton. When we got to our little church building the hearse driver asked if he needed to bring the casket in the building. Daddy said “No, we may not make it in there ourselves.” The wind seemed to be harder than it was when we left Levelland. We got into the building and dirt was piled in rivulets on the seats. The preacher was already there and suggested we go to the cemetery and he would speak and pray out there. We got back in the car and drove ahead of the hearse to show the driver the way out there. When we got there a crowd of our friends were sitting in their cars waiting for us. The funeral attendants positioned the casket on the large straps which would later take the casket into the grave. The preacher began his sermonette but the wind kept us from neither hearing one word he said nor his prayer. Then they lowered her casket into the grave without we children seeing her. But none of us wanted it opened because of the dirt that would have blown in on her. It was so sad to hear the rocks hitting the casket as they lowered it into the grave.”
Before Beatrice got sick she had washed and ironed her only school dress. She hung it on the wall in her room on. This is the first thing that mother saw when we got home. She folded the dress neatly and put it in her trunk where it remained. I do not know who inherited that trunk. They probably did not remember or know the significance of the dress to our mother.
I plan to go to my 70th class reunion at Morton High September 23, 2017 and also plan to visit Beatrice’s grave and take some flowers. Our Beautiful Beatrice!