James Marvin Holdridge (1904-1997) and
Gladys Lois Jenkins (1905-1993)

9. JAMES MARVIN HOLDRIDGE, son of Horace Benton8 and Mary Ophelia (Morgan) Holdridge, was born 18 November, 1904 in Downing, Comanche County, Texas, and died 8 October 1997 in Comanche, Comanche County, Texas. He married in Comanche, Comanche County, Texas, 30 May 1926, GLADYS LOIS JENKINS, who was born 12 March 1905, in Goldthwaite, Mills County, Texas, and died 26 September 1993, in Comanche County, Texas, daughter of Jacob Reece Jenkins and Mollie Ida Jordan.

James Marvin Holdridge was the fifth of ten children born to Horace Benton and Mary Ophelia (Morgan) Holdridge. Since the family had only recently settled in Downing, Texas, after completing their migration from Jackson County, Alabama, Marvin was the first of the family to be born in Comanche County, which was to become home for his lifetime.

In 1906 the family moved to the Warren Place located about half way between Downing and Suez, a small community which no longer exists now (1986). Lee Warren and Horace Paul were born here. In these years Horace Benton Holdridge was farming as his father and grandfather before him had done. However, he also exhibited an interest in retail trade which would become increasingly important to the family, not only as a source of income, but would influence the occupational choices of his children away from farming and into business and professional careers. The first of a series of grocery stores was opened in the Suez community in this period. When the family moved in 1909 or 1910 to a home in De Leon which Horace Benton built for the family on the north side of town just west of the present high school building, Horace began working in the W.C. Streety Mercantile Store as a dry goods clerk. The older boys, Melvin and Caver, with a little help from Marvin, worked a small farm the family rented east of De Leon. Marvin started his schooling in De Leon at North Ward School in September of 1912.

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From 1912 to 1922 the family lived on a succession of four farms for short periods of time, a farm northwest of De Leon out the Gorman highway which Marvin believes was owned by W. C. Streety; the Strickland Farm southeast of De Leon out the old Comanche highway entering De Leon; the Greenwalt Place about three miles north of De Leon out the Desdemona Road; and the Malonee Place about one-quarter mile west of the city limits and less than one-quarter mile south of the Sipe Springs Road. During these years the family continued farming with the older boys doing the farm work while Horace Benton continued working for W.C. Streety Mercantile Store in the early years and taking up carpentry in the later years.

When they lived on the Strickland place the school students walked about 2 miles from home to New Hope School for two years. They took their lunch in sacks or syrup pails. Eva, Marvin, Paul, and Lee were the ones who walked this route to school. About the beginning of 1918 the family moved to the Greenwalt Place about three miles north of De Leon out the Desdemona Road where they lived only one year during World War I. Melvin Wade and Jim Morgan were away in military service during this year. Fred William was born on the Greenwalt Place on March 10, 1918. World War I ended and the German Fleet was surrendered in November of 1918. Early in 1919 Horace and Mary moved the family to the Malonee Place located about one-quarter mile west of the city limits and less than one-quarter mile off the Sipe Springs Road. This farm was in the De Leon School District, but Horace obtained a transfer for the school children to the New Hope School where they had previously attended. John Lightfoot was principal and Marvin's teacher at the time of Marvin's graduation from Grade School in May 1919.

Marvin decided to quit school when he finished grade school in order to farm full-time on the Malonee Place. Caver helped with the farming the first year until he married in 1920. Lee, Paul, and W.C. also helped some with the farming. Horace was doing carpentry work during these years. The boys were responsible for the farming.

Marvin tells of working alone with two teams with riding turning plows, riding one of them and giving voice directions to the other team. The smaller plows pulled by a team of two mules which belonged to Melvin, went in front of the larger plow which Marvin rode, pulled by a team of three bringing up the rear. In breaking the ground with turning plows, the field was plowed around the perimeter of the field inward toward the center. When the animals came to the corner, Marvin would say, "Whoa!" and both teams would stop, turn 90 degrees and then continue down the next row. Melvin's team of mules had been trained in the oil fields and were very obedient to voice commands. Sometimes Marvin would run back and forth between the teams to check equipment and directions. Marvin said with a gleam in his eyes "I do not know anyone else who ever worked alone with two teams this way."

One day on the Malonee Farm Marvin was laying off rows with a riding two-horse cultivator and his grandfather John Henry Holdridge, was helping him by planting corn (or peanuts) with a two-horse riding planter. The two teams were side by side headed back toward the house. Marvin saw John Henry put his hand to his chest with an expression of pain on his face; he said, "Whoa!" and both teams stopped. John Henry fell off backward from the planter on his back and died immediately of a heart attack. They were close enough to the house so that Marvin could holler to his Mother who came to them. Death came to John Henry on March 31, 1921, at the age of 79.

The family moved at the beginning of 1923 to a home just inside the city limits on the Sipe Springs Road in "Archie Town". This would be home for Horace and Mary and family for many years. It was the "home" remembered fondly by the children and the grandchildren as the family gathering place at Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years.

In 1923 Horace Benton Holdridge opened a grocery store-grist mill- blacksmith shop with Sam Short in "Archie Town" at the northwest corner of the intersection of Sipe Springs Road and Cato Street. The original grocery store was a small two-room box house from which the partition had been removed. The grocery store and grist mill was operated by Lee Warren and the blacksmith shop was operated by Sam Short. Gertrude Short also worked in the grocery store some.

The original store was replaced by a new brick building on the same location in 1924. The boys got used bricks from the old cotton compress building and cleaned them for use in the construction of the new building. Sam Short separated the blacksmith shop from the Holdridge operation at this time. A little later a feed mill was added on to the brick building and Caver and Melvin worked in the mill and feed departments.

When the move to town occurred Marvin had decided to quit farming and return to school. He enrolled in high school at mid-term in January of 1923 at the age of 18 and finished high school in three-and-a-half years when he was 21. The other children in the family also started attending school in De Leon.

Marvin's desire to develop his singing talent with voice training was the primary motivation in his return to high school after laying out for three years. The 1926 DE LEONIAN said of him that "he has a good voice and puts it to good use." His nickname, "Preacher" is also recorded there. But music was not Marvin's only interest in school. He was also a member of the Dramatic Club and entered the shot put and discus throw competition in Track and Field. He went to State Competition one year in discus throw, but he did not win there. His teachers in 1926 were Mrs. W.Z. Compton in Mathematics, D. M. Russell in Agriculture, Louise Edwards in Spanish, and Gladys Roberts in English. Mr. C. E. Johnson was De Leon School Superintendent.

One of Marvin's favorite leisure activities during his high school years was participation in Sunday afternoon singings. It was at these singings that he first became acquainted with his future wife, Gladys Lois Jenkins, youngest daughter of Jacob Reece and Mollie Ida (Jordan) Jenkins. Gladys and her older sister, Nina Ruth Jenkins, were also frequent participants of the Sunday afternoon singings. Gladys played the piano very well at a young age, and Marvin confesses that it was her piano playing that first attracted him to her. Her natural beauty was enhanced in his eyes by her wonderful piano playing.

Everybody’s Sing-Song Drew Large Crowd Sunday
"Everybody’s Singing", a community affair which draws singing classes from all this section here about each quarter for a community sing-song, convened at the Christian Church last Sunday afternoon with a record-breaking attendance of singers and an over-flow audience of lovers of music. The afternoon brought fair weather, and people came from far and near to be present.

The list of leaders and songs rendered was as follows: T.H. NANCE – "Saviors Hand of Love."; W.B. McKEMIE – "I will Meet You There."; William DUKE – Walk and Talk with Jesus"; Ernest RIPPETOE – "Claim the Glad Tidings"; Homer HAFFORD – "God’s Message to Man"; Quartette – "Visions of Joy" Homer HAFFORD, Ernest RIPPETOE, J.C. LOCKE and Romy GRISHAM; Hobert COX – "Just a Little While"; W.B. RAY – "No Longer Sad"; Marvin HOLDRIDGE – "Home"; Ernest RIPPETOE – "Shine for the Lord"; Quartette – "March Homeward" Emmet and Ernest RIPPETOE, Romy GRISHAM and Dean GARDNER; Carl STEWART – "Let us Scatter Sunshine"; Quartette – "Golden Sunset." – Carl STEWART, Romy GRISHAM, Dean GARDNER and George MOONEY; ALEXANDER – "Onward in the Lord Rejoincing"; Andrew PITTMAN – "I Shall See Him and "Reapers Awake"; Emmet RIPPETOE – "Glory Land Away"; Hubert COX – "Give the World a Smile"; Quartette – "Sing God’s Children Sing on" Emmet and Ernest RIPPETOE, Andrew PITTMAN and Carl STEWART; J.D. HOLMES – "Keep Straight Ahead"; Miss Gladys JENKINS – "Joy Evermore"; Dean GARDNER – "The Glad New Way"; Mr. HORNSBY – "My All in All"; Quartette – "Wonderful" Carl STEWART, R. GRISHAM, George MOONEY, and Dean GARDNER; Hubert COX – "O Happy Day"; Quartette – "Echoes From the Golden Shore." Andrew PITTMAN, Ernest and Emmet RIPPETOE and Mrs. STEVENS; H.W. LOCKE "Sweet By and By"; Prayer by J.L. BISHOP (De Leon Free Press, De Leon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, March 20, 1925)

Their first date occurred when Marvin asked her permission to take her home from one of these Sunday afternoon singings, and she consented. Her sister, Ruth, who was with her said to her after Marvin had taken them to the Jenkins Farm on the Rush Creek between Downing and Van Dyke that she doubted if Marvin would ever ask for another date after going through all of the gates on the way to their home. Whereupon, Gladys retorted with a twinkle in her eyes, "I already have another date with him for next Sunday."

As their relationship developed, attending Sunday afternoon singings, visiting friends and relatives and going to an occasional party were their principle activities while they were dating. During the summer between Marvin's Junior and Senior years in high school, he and Gladys went to Howard Payne College once a week, Marvin to take voice lessons and Gladys to take piano lessons. Marvin's voice teacher told him that he had a "million dollar voice." He further suggested that he could develop into a great vocal performer if he would continue to study with him for several years. After that summer Marvin was offered a music scholarship at Howard Payne College, which he declined to accept. Marvin proposed marriage and Gladys accepted on July 4, 1925, and she received an engagement ring at Christmas in 1925. Some time after their engagement, Marvin unbolted the passenger seat in the family Model-T Ford and moved it over against the driver's seat so that Gladys would sit close to him.

Marvin graduated from De Leon High School with the Class of 1926.

Commencement To Be Observed at M.E. Church
The baccalaureate sermon is to be preached at the Methodist church this Sunday morning incident to the closing of De Leon high school, Pastor S. KIRKPATRICK will preach the sermon. Mrs. E.C. JOHNSON will sing, accompanied by Mrs. MOHON, pianist and Mr. SENNETT, violin. The graduating class numbers 42. John D. HARVEY is class president. Miss Roger Mae SMITH is valedictorian and Miss Allene MULLOY salutatorian. The class roll follows: Charles CARTER, Raymond BUTLER, Lewis EASTERLING, Glen ELKINS, Clifton GILLOCK, Perry FARROW, John D. HARVEY, Marvin HOLDRIDGE, John J. HORN, Jr., R.V. LESLIE, Wayne MULLOY, W.W. NANCE, Jr., Lowell PITTMAN, Alan SHORT, Fred STOVER, Zollie STEAKLEY, Thesil ALLEN, Doris AYERS, Velma BELL, Georgia BOWEN, Kayutah BRADY, Ava BUTLER, Mary Elizabeth BROWN, Irene DUKE, N.E. BUTLER, Estelle GREGORY, Lois HARVEY, Mattie HULSEY, Sallie HATTON, Bernice INZER, Merle LIGHTFOOT, Allene MULLOY, Eudora NEEL, Pauline RAY, Ruby Lee REED, Roger Mae SMITH, Rozelle SMITH, Oleta STEVENS, Modelle TATE, Mildred VAN ZANDT, Faye WILCOX (De Leon Free Press, Friday, May 21, 1926)

They were married on May 30, 1926, a few days after graduation. The Reverend J. D. Smoot, a long-time family friend, performed the ceremony at his home with Mrs. Smoot, Henry Kennedy, and Willie Whitlow as witnesses.

Jenkins - Holdridge
The marriage of Mr. Marvin Holdridge to Miss Gladys Jenkins occurred at Comanche at the home of Rev. and Mrs. J. D. Smoot at 9:00 o’clock last Sunday morning, May 30th. The wedding was a complete surprise to the many friends of the couple here, Holdridge having finished De Leon high school course on Friday prior to his marriage on Sunday. The young couple was accompanied by Miss Willie Whitlow and Mr. Henry Kennedy.

Miss Jenkins is daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Jenkins of near Comanche and is a charming and lovable young woman. She is a graduate of Comanche high school in the class of 1923, having many friends in that city who extend their congratulations and best wishes. Mr. Holdridge is a son of Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Holdridge and to say he is popular is an all too mild expression. Marvin holds a place in the highest esteem and love of hundreds who have known him from childhood.

Mr. and Mrs. Holdridge are leaving Friday for Dallas where he will study during the summer months at SMU. Both will perhaps study there during the coming school year. Mr. Holdridge was at Dallas last week making arrangements for an apartment for the summer and arranging for his course in voice, in which he will major during his study there.

The Free Press has no list of adjectives sufficient to express our esteem of these excellent young folks but if wishing them the realization of their fondest hopes and ambitions will suffice, then they have the best this paper affords. (De Leon Free Press, June 1926)

After their wedding they spent only a few days visiting relatives and friends around De Leon before going to Dallas where they established their first home in an apartment. During the summer session in 1926 Marvin studied voice at Southern Methodist University, and worked at a railroad depot handling freight. By the end of the summer Marvin concluded that they could not make it financially if he continued in school, so they decided to return to De Leon. Marvin's father, Horace, who surely must have known of their financial circumstances, wrote a letter offering Marvin a job in the grocery store at home, and Marvin accepted.

They made their home in De Leon in September of 1926 in one of Archie Humphrey's rent houses on Weatherford Street (402, I think), a short distance northwest of the family grocery store where Marvin began to work. The house was a small, wood-frame house---four rooms and a path. In addition there was a garage, a cow shed and a lot where we always had a milk cow, and a garden. James Rector Holdridge was born in this house on June 7, 1927, and Gerald Dee Holdridge was born in the same house on August 5, 1931.

Horace B. Holdridge decided to send Lee to Abilene to take a business course in 1927 after Marvin came back home and got established in the grocery store. Someone needed to learn bookkeeping methods for running a small business and Lee was selected. When Lee came back from his schooling in Abilene, he and Mildred Whitlow were married on June 8, 1928. Then it was decided to open a second store uptown on the present location of R. D. Bell Dry Goods Store. This was later moved one block north on the same side of the street on the present location of an auto parts store. This second store had become necessary for supporting the growing families involved in the family business. Melvin and Lee operated this uptown store.

My memories of our time in the house on Weatherford Street are few in number and very dim. One of the clear memories, however, is the sound of the feed mill at the family store grinding feed on a breezy summer afternoon. I remember Grandfather Jenkins visiting our house in his Model-T Ford Coupe one day just after having gone fishing. I found a small, dead perch in the luggage compartment which I wanted to keep, but was denied. This perch had not been dead very long, and I suppose I had not experienced at that time how badly a fish can smell after it has been dead for awhile.

Grandpa Jenkins

I remember the first --- and probably the last time I walked to the store from our house without permission. My Dad met me out in front of the store, turned me around, and headed me homeward with a switch at my backside. It must have made a big impression on me. I have sometimes wondered about the curious selectivity of our long term memories for seemingly unimportant things, while forgetting many larger, more important events.

There was another incident that occurred in this home which I want to record. It was probably an adult "Forty-two" party, for that was a common form of entertainment back in those early days of our family. The particulars are very fuzzy in my memory, but I think that there were four couples--two tables--at this party. Bill and Henry Kennedy were two of the people visiting Marvin and Gladys Holdridge. Perhaps the other two couples were Lee and Mildred and either Caver and Mattie or Melvin and Grace. What caused this incident to stick in my memory was that after playing awhile, the men all left the house for a short while and when they returned after dark they thought they would be a little "prankish" and crept up to the house and scratched on the window screen to scare the girls. Of course the girls were not fooled; they assumed that it was the guys doing just what they were doing,--pulling a prank. Not to be outdone, Mother reached in the closet and took the pump .22 rifle out and said, "We'll just scare them a little," as she pumped the rifle one time. The guys came inside in a few moments, looking very sheepish.

In 1932 the uptown store was closed and all of the stock was moved to the original store on Sipe Springs Road. Lee began working at Higginbotham Bros. & Co. and Melvin and Caver opened a Magnolia service station uptown. Our family moved to another rent house at 602 Mosely Street next door to Jim and Pearl Gray about 1933. We do not have a record nor a clear memory of the exact times but I think that it must have been before I started to school in September of 1933. In any case, it was before my sister, Nina Beth, was born in November of 1936.

I remember coming home from school the day Nina was born and being told (probably by Mrs. Jim Gray) that Mother had been taken to the Gorman Hispital to give birth to a baby. I also remember falling one day in the hallway of this house while carrying my baby sister. Neither of us were hurt.

This house had two features missing in the earlier house. It had a walk-in pantry where home-canned fruits and vegetables were stored on the shelves, and a hallway connecting the front and back bedrooms with a bathroom in between. While there was a bathtub we still had a path and an outhouse. We also had a shed and barnyard for the milk cow and chickens, a garden and a garage. Living here was memorable for the many happy days of fun activities shared with Bobby and Billy Gray, next door neighbors who were nearly the same ages as Gerald and I. We flew kites, rode bicycles and wagons, rolled automobile tires and steel hoops with sticks, built caves, dammed up water in the roadside ditches when it rained, built model airplanes, played cowboys and Indians (or cops and robbers) with homemade rubber guns, and we made small villages in the yard with houses, roads, homemade wooden trailer trucks on skids rather than wheels, and pastures full of "bottle" livestock.

By 1936 the Great Depression and hard times had taken their toll and the grocery store in De Leon was bankrupt. Under an agreement with creditors the building was turned over to the bank as satisfaction for indebtedness. A new sheet iron building was built on the southeast corner of the same intersection where the old building stood, at Sipe Springs Road and Cato Street. A loan from A. C. Schuman of $1,250 enabled the family to build the new building. The loan was repaid at 6% interest with $25.00 per month payments. An additional agreement was that they would purchase gasoline and oil products from A. C. Schuman for the service station. Horace B. Holdridge retired from active participation in the store at the time of the move of location and Marvin and W.C. gained full control of the business and brought it slowly out of bankruptcy and toward prosperity. The store was closed only a short time during this transition.

Holdridge and Sons Store ca. 1937

About 1938 Marvin acquired from Mitchell Tate a house with four acres of ground at 600 Sipe Springs Road. It was with joy and excitement that we moved to our four acres and a house of our own. The way we date this move is by remembering that Nina was still a baby sleeping in a baby bed in Mother and Dad's bedroom when we moved there. I also remember that she developed a case of pneumonia in this house when she was still in a baby bed and had to have a tent over the bed in order to breathe some medicinal vapors.

The truth of the old adage "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can not take the country out of the boy" was substantiated at this home place. Marvin and Gladys were raised on farms, and their ancestors were farmers generations before them. Even though we were living within the city limits of De Leon on this place, we had a milk cow (sometimes two) all of the time we lived there. We also had room for a feed lot for butcher calves and hogs for the meat markets and a small farm for fruits and vegetables not only for home canning but to supply produce for the grocery market as well. We had onions, tomatoes, beans, black-eyed peas, okra, corn, peaches, pears, pecans, blackberries, and grapes. We usually kept a saddle horse or two and a Shetland pony to ride. We had chickens and some milk goats part of the time. We usually had a dog and one or more cats, and for a period of time some domesticated mallard ducks and some pet squirrels.

Marvin Holdridge and his brother W.C. opened a store in a new building at Texas and the Sipe Springs highway on January 16, 1948, It was a Clover Farm franchise and featured some innovations --- shopping carts. They owned and operated this Holdridge grocery store in De Leon for many years until their retirement. Marvin Holdridge served as a De Leon City Commissioner for two terms during the tenure of W. B. Nowlin as Mayor in the 1950s. The other commissioners who served with him at this time were Eldon Terrill and Lloyd Coan. He was Mayor Pro-Tem during his second term. The most important project undertaken during this period of service on the City Commission was planning for the De Leon Hospital. When construction was ready to begin, Marvin was appointed to the Hospital Building Committee along with C. B. Gregory and Lowrey B. Easley. The inscription on the cornerstone of the first unit of the De Leon Hospital, which is now the clinic, reads 1952 - DE LEON HOSPITAL, W. B. Nowlin, Mayor, J. M. Holdridge, Commissioner, Eldon Terrill, Commissioner, Lloyd Coan, Commissioner. BUILDING COMMITTEE, C. B. Gregory, J. M. Holdridge, Lowrey B. Easley.

For the first few years a physician-administrator supervised the operation of the De Leon Hospital. In 1960 the City Commission, comprised of Lowell Pittman, Richard Bond, and Charles Morgan, authorized Mayor W. B. Nowlin to appoint a Hospital Board for the De Leon Municipal Hospital. Marvin Holdridge, Ed Mahan, Emmett Locke, Ed Rogers, and Al Strasner were appointed. This board held its first meeting at the hospital on April 29, 1960. Marvin Holdridge was elected Chairman; Emmett Locke, Vice-Chairman; and Al Strasner, Secretary. Marvin was re-elected chairman on May 3, 1962, and served one more year, at which time he requested that he not be re-appointed to the Hospital Board.

Children of James Marvin Holdridge and Gladys Lois Jenkins:

  1. James Rector10 Holdridge
  2. Gerald Dee Holdridge
  3. Nina Beth Holdridge

Source: In the 1980's during Holdridge family reunions in De Leon, Delta Ree Holdridge Hafford, daughter of Melvin Wade Holdridge, started a family project to record family histories. Each generation in turn would write their story to be compiled in a book. This is the story that James Rector Holdridge wrote in 1987 about his parents Marvin and Gladys.