1941 (July 1 – July 15)

[…the continuing 1941 diary of Sicily Island, Louisiana native, Bea Bryan Denham.  References to WWII are in red.]

July 1, Tuesday

Sunny and hot.

Jo Anne went to Vacation Bible School, and as soon as I finished cleaning up I went to Mamma’s.  Earl had already gone.  He and Carter worked all day, got the cold water lines run, but no hot ones yet.  Oh, I’m so glad it’s being done, I’ve surely wanted them to have water in their house long enough. I wish we could fix the commode, but I guess we will have to be satisfied with this awhile.


July 2, Wednesday

Earl worked all day on the water system at Mamma’s, and I tagged about after him.  They got the hot water almost finished, but it will take a little while in the morning to finish it up.

July 3, Thursday


Rowland called Earl this morning about a car, so Earl and Carter finished the water system about 11, and we began getting ready to go to Thibodaux.  Dave Clark and his family came by, but we got off at 2 after eating dinner with Mamma.  Visited May Usher a few minutes, and also Nelson and Faye.  The car was considerably more than we wanted to spend, but Earl said it was a good buy, and if we can sell ours it won’t be so bad.  It was $650, we paid $300 down, and want to pay the rest before 60 days to eliminate the carrying charges.  It was after 12 when we got here, in Thibodaux.  We are going to Grand Isle tomorrow.  Saw Kidd on the road.

July 4, Friday

We left about nine and drove down to Grand Isle, got two rooms in a private home, and went sight seeing.  It was too hot to swim, so we went to the docks and hired a boat which took us out beyond Grand Terre, where we looked at the old Fort Livingston, built during the war of 1812, and now partly in the sea.  We saw porpoises swimming about, and surely did enjoy the ride.  Later we went swimming, but Jo Anne enjoyed it most of all.  She really learned to take the waves as they came.  It’s a nice place to stay awhile, we met the Easterly’s down on the beach.

July 5, Saturday


We swam early, stayed in a long time since there was no sun.  Jo Anne and I were sick in the night, but seem to be all right today.  We also went back in this afternoon, with the Easterly’s and got a pretty bad scare when we found ourselves too deep.  It’s lots of fun swimming where the waves break.  We have had a real nice time all the trip, I’m so glad we came.  I think both Jo Anne and Earl enjoyed it immensely, and I always love to see them do things they enjoy.  We will swim early, and leave early in the morning.  The sunset was beautiful today.

Sunday, July 6


They all went swimming this morning but Velma and I stayed and packed up, got ready to leave. Easterlys left, too, Earl and Rowland helped them get the trailer out and going. We left Grand Isle around eleven, got to Thibodeaux about two, but ate dinner in Golden Meadow, wasted a lot of time. Brought Elaine and Lily Belle up to Baton Rouge, came on out to Quitman’s, where we’re going to spend the night. The car seems to be all right, we will conclude the bargain tomorrow. We hated to leave Grand Isle, we all enjoyed it, but Jo Anne especially did.

Monday, July 7

Sunny and hot.

We came into town and fixed up the papers on the car, notes of $175 for Aug. 7 and Sept. 7, and left it to be gone over. We visited Aunt Leona a good while in the afternoon, Anna, Anna Bess, Anna May, Dollie, and Tom came in while we were there. We also went to Jewel’s, and found them living in a negro cabin, just about so bad as they’ve ever been. Came back by Quitman’s and decided to spend the night with C.L. When we got out there, Kidd had been calling us, so we went to the University, she had letters from Margaret and Florelle for us. I am going to be glad to get in bed, I’m tired tonight.

Tuesday, July 8

Sunny and quite hot.

C.L. with my mother at their place – c.1935

I thought we were going home early this morning, but Earl got to fooling with C.L’s garden tractor, so Marcia and I decided to go see a table Beverly [Kate’s husband] had made Kate [Marcia’s sister], and on to town for a pair of shoes for me. We got the play board for the bridge table, and went to see Sis. Fooled around at C.L.’s the rest of the day, left them at 6:00. Had to drive both cars, Earl said Jo Anne should have been twins, so we’d each have a daughter to ride with. Jo Anne said it was my fault she wasn’t, that I could have borned two as easy as one. We stopped at May Usher’s, got home at 10:45. Ate supper in Natchez. Trip cost $25.00.

July 9, Wednesday

Sunny and hot.

I’ve cleaned and put away all day, and the house still looks like a wreck. Went to Mamma’s and Julia’s, and fixed dinner, washed underclothes, took clothes to Liza, and have been busy the whole day with no results. Well, I guess that’s a cross section of life. Wrote Minnie Lea, Velma, Florelle, Marcia, and asked Fortuny for the ninety eleventh time to send my manuscripts back to me. We went to see Edward awhile tonight, took Mamma and Daddy. Burk is getting better but is still in the hospital. The pipe for Mamma was $16.26.

July 10, Thursday


Margaret came this afternoon and asked me to go to Monroe tomorrow. I guess I’ll go, I want to get Sprague a wedding present. We spent a good while at Mamma’s, I wrote Easie and Aunt Leona. Seems as if I’ll never get all the letters written.

The Battle of Britain is rather quiet, but the Battle of Russia is raging. Russia is bound to lose, but at least they’re putting up a fight. England is bombing German and French cities pretty briskly, seems as if she is just beginning to take the offensive.

July 11, Friday


Went to Monroe, got a beautiful pair of pillow cases for Sprague. Mr. Dewitt got a suit to wear to the wedding. We stayed till about 1, but I didn’t buy anything except a belt for Earl and some ribbons for Jo Anne. We were in a terrible rain coming back. I left my dress and Earl’s suit in Wisner, guess I’ll have to go after them tomorrow.

July 12, Saturday

Cloudy, no rain

We cleaned up good for Sunday, I got everything ready for our early departure tomorrow. Kidd and Edward came in this afternoon, we went to Mamma’s and stayed most of the time. Kidd and Mamma went to Wisner with me after the clothes. Daddy spent the day, and is to stay the night, in Winnsboro, visiting friends and Aunt Florelle, who has been sick. We tried to get Mamma to go to Harrisonburg but she wouldn’t, decided we’d take Pop and Julia. We stayed til about ten, at Kidd’s, came back by the Holy Roller church and watched them awhile. Today was Aunt Minnie’s birthday.

July 13, Sunday


We got up early; Cecil, Margaret and Mr. Dewitt went with us to see Sprague and Hazel married. It was a beautiful home wedding, Hazel looked awfully pretty. Cecil said all the bosses were terminated Saturday, and it undoubtedly won’t be long until the other job will begin. Nelson and family came this afternoon, we went to Wisner to see “Ziegfield Girl” – fair. Edward took our old car, said he’d try to sell it if he could. We need to get rid of it as soon as possible. Everything is going up, especially groceries.

July 14, Monday


Earl went to Leesville after the tent lumber today, got in at 12:30 tonight. Said they had a nice trip. Nelson went with him and Carter. He said it seemed the job will open this coming Monday. I washed and ironed, and spent a while at Mamma’s. I wrote Florelle, and must try to do the posting at the shop tomorrow. Faye was here a little while. Mr. Dewitt was out here with no way to get home, so Jo Anne and I took him out there.

July 15, Tuesday

More rain

I’m afraid the cotton will ruin, it’s raining so much during the blooming season. I posted at the shop, got everything straight so far as I know. Jo Anne, Patsy and I went to Harrisonburg to get tires for a trailer, Earl has been working on one all day long, so far it’s cost us $12. I do hope we get orders to go to work Monday, it’s awful waiting and nothing coming in, but all you’ve saved going out. Wish we could sell our old car, that would make us certainty of the payments on this new one. Went to Mamma’s, but didn’t stay very long.


“Poor boy, he had just got ready to live…”

Guice family – May 1941 (l-r) Anna Claire, Marcia, Carol Lee, C.L.

22 Sep 1941 – Hot

“… Around three Mr. Culbertson came, said I had a long distance call.  It was Edward. Nelson had called him and told him C.L. died today.  Earl hasn’t come in yet, and I don’t know what do to.  Poor boy, he had just got ready to live, it is terrible.  And his poor kids will never know what a Daddy means. Marcia must be completely bewildered.  Edward is taking Mamma and Joe down.” — from Bea Bryan Denham’s journal, first cousin of C.L.

My grandfather died suddenly at the age of thirty-six from a cerebral hemorrhage, leaving behind his wife Marcia, and two young daughters,  Anna Claire (my mother) and Carol Lee.

Redfield Bryan and C.L. Guice

C.L. — that’s what he called himself.  He insisted his name was not Cicero Louis, like his father, so most people just called him “Foots” because his feet were so big.  Born in 1905, the son of a doctor, he grew up in a rural north Louisiana town called Winnsboro.

He grew to be a handsome, gentle fellow — tall and lean. C.L. was a lover of poetry and a strong athlete who played catcher on his high school baseball team. He graduated from Winnsboro High in 1922.

Winnsboro High Baseball 1922 (C.L., front right)

He decided to attend Louisiana College in central Louisiana so that he wouldn’t be too far from his widowed mother.  Later he transferred to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to continue his studies. And that was a good thing, because that’s where he met Marcia.

Marcia Broome was a spunky, petite young lady, born in Mississippi, but reared in south Louisiana. She was everything that C.L. wasn’t, but that’s what made their relationship so endearing and so much fun.

C.L. and Marcia

As she wrote in one of her letters to him while he was at a summer camp with the Reserved Officers Training Corps, she loved him “just lots and lots.”  In her college annual, the 1925 LSU Gumbo, he wrote in French, “I love you, I adore you, Could you want more? – Foots”   He was such a romantic!CL Guice portrait LSU 1925018

Then on November 28, 1928 they were married.  He was 23 and she was 21. But neither of his parents would see him married.  His father died when C.L. was 14 and his mother died when he was 21.

At the beginning of their new life together Marcia and C.L. bought a house with some land near Ryan Airport north of Baton Rouge.  He went to work for the Standard Oil Company (now Exxon) in Baton Rouge and she taught Home Economics at Baker High School.  It would be six years into their marriage before their first daughter Anna Claire was born. Three years later Carol Lee was born into the family.

C.L. and his girls in a rare Louisiana snow in 1940

C.L. and Carol Lee having fun on their place

C.L. with Anna Claire in downtown Baton Rouge

C.L worked hard on their home place. He farmed the back acreage with a plow and mule that Anna Claire loved to ride.  But he found plenty of time to have fun with his girls.  He was a good daddy.  Life was good, but the world was not.

Events on the world stage were becoming more and more unsettling.  Hitler was making his push for world domination more quickly than anyone could have imagined and Japan was wreaking havoc in the Pacific.  With each passing year the United States was becoming the only oasis of peace in the world.

C.L. and Marcia, four months before his death

C.L. and Marcia, four months before his death

Taking advantage of this peace while it lasted, the Guices decided to take a vacation in the Smokey Mountains in May of 1941.  A young family friend came along to help take care of the girls so C.L. and Marcia could enjoy some of their vacation time together as a couple.  They enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the girls even got to play in a mountain stream.  They were making wonderful memories as a family — memories that would have to last Marcia and the girls a lifetime.  It would be less than  four months later when the whole family was home for the day that C.L. came in with an awful headache.  He laid down on a bed, but shortly there after, died of a brain hemorrhage.

More from Bea Denham’s journal two days after his death…

24 Sep 1941  – Rain, Gulf storm

Anna Claire (7) and her daddy

“The last days have been a kind of nightmare of long grey roads stretching toward something I didn’t want to reach, yet which I found myself frantically trying to get to.  The pity of young death, of young families torn and the aching hurt is always more than I can bear if I’m not personally concerned, and C.L. is the nearest to a brother I ever had.  Poor Marcia, she loved him to the exclusion of any other interest, and the little girls are too young to realize what it means to them.  Though children suffer far more keenly than grown ups realize, as Anna Claire, “Why couldn’t God let my Daddy live to be an old man like Uncle Joe?”  Their hearts will ache many a time for him.”

For my grandmother, Marcia, I have always considered her such a strong and astute woman — handling this crisis with two young children in the midst of one of the greatest crises the world had known. The United States would be entering the world war by December. Goods would soon be rationed.  Her house and land had to be managed.  She would find someone to rent part of her house so she would not be alone.  My grandmother later sold the house and land that C.L. and she bought together, having it divided into lots for a subdivision…a hard but necessary decision.

Two years after the death of C.L., Marcia married W.T. Arnold, the kind grocer who owned the store where she traded and who had been giving her extra ration stamps to help take care of her two little girls.  W.T. and Marcia had one daughter together named Marcia Jane.

For my mother Anna Claire, as full as her life was, her heart never stopped aching for her daddy.

© 2011 Melinda Holloway All Rights Reserved