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Harry Windes

Frank and Crocia had seven children, Molly, Harry (my grandfather, born April 30,1879), Dora, Carrie, Zoe, Emma, and Robert.

Grandfather Harry was sent to college for three years by his father and mother. He attended Missouri College in Tarkio for two years, and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville the third year. In 1900, "having secured all of the education I believe I need to live a happy and fruitful life," he dropped out of college to go into the family business with his father and brother, Robert. For the next seventeen years that was his occupation. Managing the store, plus helping to raise a family of two boys, should have been enough to satisfy Harry's needs. But the restless Harry then bought half-a-section of land, north of his father's holdings, through which ran a lovely valley and a beautiful creek, and then hired tenant farmers to raise crops on it, mostly hay. Harry, brother Robert, and sisters Dora, Carrie ("Cad") and Zoe and their husbands, all built homes on B.F.'s original six hundred forty acres.

When Benjamin Franklin died in 1917, he left his store to the two boys, and divided his land among his seven living children, each receiving ninety some acres, and each building a home on the inherited land.

A very early riser, Harry would pick up his copy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the splendid Pulitzer afternoon paper in St. Louis which was available at the Democrat at six-thirty the next morning, and digest its front page before going to Henley's. He thus became the morning anchorman for discussions of the depression and the New Deal, as well as Missouri politics. Harry spent a lot of time reading a lot of newspapers, but his favorite was always the Post-Dispatch.

Harry died in early January, 1942, of the effects of heart disease and drugs. He asked to be allowed to die on his "sleeping porch" at the Cassville home, and he did.

Harry was a W.K. Kellogg, Bernard McFadden health nut during much of his life, and believed in special diets and sleeping outdoors. "The fresh outdoor night air is much healthier than heated indoor air," he frequently had reminded everyone. He had accordingly equipped his spacious back porch with canvas awnings which he rolled down at night, his only concession to the cold and wet, and slept under a lot of blankets and quilts in the winter time during his last ten years.

Margaret bitched a lot about it, but "stood by her man" and slept with him even in the coldest weather. Fortunately, southern Missouri has fairly moderate winters. Such a regime didn't do much for Harry's health, apparently, but did wonders for Margaret who lived to age eighty-six.

By the winter of 1941, it had become clear Grandfather Harry's illness was terminal and that he would live only a short time. His last year was a tragic one. To ease his excruciating pain, his doctors gave him heavy doses of morphine and other sedatives and pain relievers, and the poor sad man had few lucid moments. Each time I saw him I hurt a bit more and cried openly for him to recognize me and read to me from the Post-Dispatch or tell me stories about growing up in Washburn, or listening to the great Harry Lauder sing, or about the great 1903 St. Louis World's Fair, or about California. All he could do was to hold me close to him. He had "lost" every adventure, the victim of idiot doctors who took away from him his mind and placed him in some horrible drug world. He sadly outlived himself. In the end he was a child playing in the yard of his Washburn home with his dog, "Old Blue."

Harry died too young, age sixty-three, and without the mercantile and financial empire he had lived with during all of his life. But he still had large numbers of family and friends who respected him and loved him. At his funeral in Cassville that January day in 1942, four hundred people showed up to pay their respects. Services were held at the Baptist Church, a place Harry had been to only twice in his life, and Miss Laura sang "There is a Green Hill Far Away," and Moody Burton played on his violin, at Harry's request, "When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day," the old Carrie Jacobs Bond song.

No sermons were heard, at Harry's request, but short eulogies were delivered by his brother, Robert, one of his sisters, Cad, and by a dozen Cassville businessmen he had known since youth, C.C. Chandler, Royle Ellis, E.L. Blankenship, J.T. Wooten, C.W. Riddle, Judge W.F. Carney, Sheriff Troy Wilson, Bon Manley and others.
The last farewell came from the publisher of the Cassville Democrat, John P. Ray, who read to the group a telegram received from Senator Harry S. Truman, who said, among other things, "Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn't like. Not only did Harry Windes like everyone he met; I never met a man who didn't like Harry Windes. He was my friend, and without his help I might not have been elected Senator in 1934. Barry County and Missouri will greatly miss him."

Likewise I was never close to my grandfather, Harry. He adored Peggy and spent much of his free time with her. He always took her fishing with him, and even though I hated fishing I was jealous and was convinced he didn't like me. But grandfather was like father in many respects. He liked farming and fishing and croquet and business. From the beginning I could not identify with him or his interests. We shared some things, a few radio programs like "Lum And Abner," long walks, and an absorbing interest in national and international affairs. From Harry I learned to read the daily papers and "talk" about politics. He would bring over the St. Louis Post-Dispatch every night for me to read and suggest what stories I should be interested in. Harry was sweet and kind and generous and gentle. He was much loved by his family and community even though he was never a member of a group, not church, not civic, not political. Harry was simply not a threat to anyone. But he and I could never spend much time together alone. I never knew the reasons why.
 

 

 

 

 

 

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