Jim and Dorothy Johns, Page 1


Sue Terhune (est3739@comcast.net)

Dorothy Jane Burnett was born 7 February 1915 in Lone Oak, KY, the fourth child of James Washington and Ora Atwood (Elliott) Burnett.

Dorothy Jane Burnett - 1915
Mary, Dorothy, Elliott & Marie about 1919

In 1919, when Dorothy was 4 years old, her family moved to a 100 acre farm in Maxon Mill near West Paducah, KY. She attended the Little Union School and Heath High School in West Paducah.

Dorothy - 10 years old
Dorothy -16 years old
Mom's musical abilities developed in high school. She was in a trio which traveled around Kentucky and she could also play the piano by ear. This photo was taken in 1931 when Mom was 16 years old. Standing: Miss Luela McCaslin, Director. Seated left to right: Etna B. Marshall, Dorothy Burnett and Evelyn Pitt.

It was about this time that James Adel Johns, my Dad, entered the picture.  Elliott and Dad's sister, Hazel Johns, had been married in 1929. In 1930 they planned a visit to Paducah and invited Dad to join them. Dad was 21 and Mom was 16, much too young for him but he fell head over heels in love with her the first time he saw her. Mom thought he was cute but she already had a boy friend and Dad was too old for her. When Dad returned to Michigan, he began writing letters and poems to Mom in a correspondence which lasted two years.

Heath High School Graduating Class of 1932

Mom graduated in June 1932 and on 16 Nov 1932 she and Dad got married. The following account was written by my father, James A. Johns, at my request, shortly before his death. It has been duplicated here, word for word as he wrote it, and no attempt has been made to correct any of the information it contains. It is a wonderful story and should be enjoyed by many generations to come.

Dot and I were married at the Baptist Parsonage in Paducah, Kentucky on December 16, 1932 at 6:30 P.M. by the Reverend Clapp. We were attended  by Dorothy's two sisters, Marie Hall and Mary Lawrence Burnett, and her brother-in-law, Harold Hall and Carl Osborne (Mary Lawrence's boyfriend and later husband). It was a very cold, dreary day, rained and froze, ice over everything. I was scared to death, never having been in that situation before. It was a single ring ceremony (confidentially, it was a brass ring I found out later). Dot was also scared but had that beautiful smile, like rays of sunshine on that dismal day. Our escorts treated us to a 'shoot-em-up'  western movie after the ceremony. We didn't know we were supposed to go home and get with it; just two inexperienced kids, so much in love.

The next day we left Dorothy's home and headed for my folk's farm in Salem, Dent Co., Missouri. My Dad loaned me his 1930 Chevy Coupe because he said it would be warmer than my 1931 Ford Roadster. Actually, neither one had a heater. Dot really looked funny wearing my riding pants, high- top boots, wool shirt, and my long Russian pony  overcoat. She was so covered up you could hardly find her. We had to get back across the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers because that was the last day my ticket was good for. It cost $5.00 for a round trip and nearly broke us. It was Depression Days and money was scarce. We barely had enough money to buy gas to get back to Salem. We finally filled up on enough gas to get home and twenty cents left, so we bought 15 cents worth of cheese and a 5 cent box of crackers for our lunch.

It was a cold, scary drive across the Ozark Mountains. Ice covered the gravel highways but I was a good driver and Dot was scared, but never let me know it. Christmas was only a week away and in the mountains the pine trees skirted the highways, so we stopped and cut a nice five to six foot tree to take home. We arrived about dark and the new bride had never met her in-laws before. Dressed as she was, she was still glamorous with her million dollar smile. My mother was a very 'serene' woman and always said what she thought.  Dad was very easy to know and they both fell in love with her right at the start.

Now, out on the farms when someone gets married, the neighbors for miles around give them a shivaree. They ring bells, shoot guns, beat pans and tubs, and explode anvils (?). They really make a racket. Our's was exceptionally big, because Dot was an outsider and everyone came from miles around. They would make noise for about a half an hour and then send the Captain in to see if we had enough. We finally said YES! Dot had on a flaming red dress, her eyes sparkled, and everyone gave her the O.K. It was necessary for the groom to hand out cigars to the men and stick candy to the women and children. We had 50 cigars and two boxes of candy and thought that would be enough but, it turned out to be only half enough. If I didn't treat them all, they would ride me on a rail and throw me in the creek. What was I to do? I had no money left, so I asked the storekeeper if he would charge it and we drove to the store for another box of cigars and more candy. We didn't count but I think it was the largest crowd at any shivaree.

Winter time on the farm was not too busy so, when chores were done, Dot and I would walk up the field along the creek. It was known as Barnett's Lake and it had lovely, spring fed, crystal clear water. In the evenings, we would  sit around the big furnace and play the uke and sing. Dot also played the piano by ear. Dot and I sang very well together and we had some lovely evenings together. Mother and Dot went to quilting bees at neighbor's homes and Dot made many friends. She and I sang at church and she would sing duets with another girl; they were really good.

I still had no job but Dad said I could put in a crop come Spring and we could split 50-50. I was to plow about 40 acres of new ground, full of stumps and roots, with a #20 Oliver Plow with a span of young mules. I hadn't plowed in 10 years and the young mules had never pulled a plow.  What a disaster! We kept at it, however, and got the corn planted. It was good weather and good, rich soil and we had to cultivate it several times.


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