My dad’s cheeks would swell up as he’d try to contain his mischief, and fun from seeking freedom, but the gleam in his eye would threaten to expose his riddle. He had a playful sense of humor. He would stifle a laugh, trying to keep his face stoic, pretending to be serious, while teasing one of us about something. It was difficult to stay angry with him and also difficult to know when he was being serious. He was seldom angry himself but when he was it was explosive. He loved to joke and tease. Politics and Westerns were his favorite forms of entertainment.
The first census my dad is found living in is 1940, Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska. He was seven, and enumerated as having been born in Arkansas and his sister Mary was nine. He told people he was born in Nebraska because he grew tired of trying to explain that he didn’t know anything about Arkansas. My grandfather Roosevelt Sr was enumerated as head of household and his fourth union, Grace was listed as his wife. My dad would tell me stories of the unpleasant way Grace and the step-mother before her Martha would treat them. He said, his dad was not aware of the abuse because his step mother’s would never do anything while he was around. He said, as soon as he could enlist, even before he was old enough he joined the Marine Corp, he needed his dad’s permission to do so and it was granted.
He told me the John Wayne movie Sands of Iwo Jima were a big influence on his decision to enlist. He would say, his dad was so strict and there was so much tension between he and his dad that for the first year after enlistment he wouldn’t even write him. His sergeant made him write after his dad inquired about him to the company commander. Roosevelt Bass Sr. believed in corporal punishment, demanded excellence in education, and claimed he voted Republican. My dad said that claim was deceptive.
My granddad Roosevelt Sr. liked to travel. He would run fast enough to catch a rail, jump on, and let it take him where ever it would take him. He would leave Bastrop Louisiana for many days this way. Sometime in the 1920’s his parents, Peter Bass born 1868 Marion, Union Parish Louisiana and Phillis Henry, born 1878, would quit deed their home and move the family to Warren Arkansas where they purchased a farm in Monticello, Arkansas. The first census Peter Bass is found in is 1870 and the first one Phillis Henry is found in is 1880 2nd Ward, Union, Louisiana.
It was in Fordyce, Arkansas, that my grandparents Naomi Tidwell, and Roosevelt Sr. would meet and marry. Her parents didn’t approve of this brash, flighty, boy who was too old for their daughter. She was only sixteen and they forbid her to marry him. Naomi Tidwell’s parents were Millard Tidwell and Carrie Elliot. Millard Tidwell was born in 1878 Clay Bradley, Arkansas the first census he was found in was 1880 and she in 1900.
Pg 1 of 2