Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Chuck

There would be 83 candles on a birthday cake for Charles Newton Cone, Jr. today if he had lived. I've been reading over the baby book his mother Hazel Bynon Allen maintained meticulously through his childhood and thought you might like to know a little more about his parents, birth and first months.

Hazel Bynon Allen and Charles Newton Cone were married on 04 Sep 1926 after a whirlwind courtship of not much more than two weeks. Charles had come to Memphis from his home in Seattle to do business with Hazel's father Chester Bynon Allen. Chester was in the plywood business and Charles was a chemist working on developing new glue methods for making plywood for I. F. Laucks and Company in Seattle. Chester was impressed enough with the young chemist to invite him home to dinner. As the father of an unmarried 30 year old daughter, he may have had ulterior motives.

Hazel had been teaching for at least six years at Bruce Elementary School just a block from the home on Vinton Street where she lived with her parents. She probably thought of herself as an 'old maid' as her younger sister Martha was already married and a mother. She thought of herself as a second mother for her sister Dolly who was nearly 15 years younger.

Hazel and Charles hit it off and within two weeks Charles invited Hazel to dinner at the Peabody Hotel (the poshest in Memphis). He proposed marriage with his in-laws dining discreetly in another part of the room.

At first glance, it might seem that the petite southern girl had nothing in common with the lanky northwesterner however both of their fathers were from the same region in New York. Charles' father and Chester's father were fruit farmers. Their families placed a high value on education. In addition to Hazel, her sister Martha and Charles' sister Molly were teachers. Still, I think it may have been their love of music that brought them together. Charles had won some acclaim as a vocalist including performing as a soloist with the Salem (Oregon) symphony and Hazel was an accomplished pianist.

Soon after their wedding was celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral in Memphis, they were on a train heading back to Seattle. Grandmother told me that because of kidney problems she had as a child, it was expected that she would not be able to have children. Evidently, this was not a hindrance, as Chuck was born a little more that nine months after their wedding.

Still a stranger in the northwest, Hazel went home to Memphis for the birth feeling safer surrounded by her family with the delivery in the able hands of her brother Dr. Chester Dye Allen. According to the baby book, he delivered the 7 pound 1 ounce baby at 8 pm on Wednesday June 8, 1927. Hazel carefully preserved the hospital label in the baby book. The fading blue ink reads "Baby Cone - Boy, Dr. Allen - 6/8/27.

Younger sister Dolly sent the first wire to Seattle to tell Charles of the arrival of his son. Martha provided his layette. The list of gifts carefully recorded in the book includes a sweater given by Great-grandmother Newton and a ring from Great-Grandmother Allen (reading about the later gift was very exciting as I had supposed she had died much earlier).

Chuck was christened on the second of July at St. Mary's Cathedral where Hazel and Charles had been married by Dean Noe. She notes that Dean Noe also preformed her confirmation. Hazel's sister Martha was godmother and godfathers were Uncle "Doc" (Chester Day Allen) and Uncle John (how Uncle John fits into the family remains a mystery).

Hazel and Chuck stayed in Memphis for six weeks before taking the train home to Seattle. She writes, "Baby's first real outing was when his mother brought him home to his daddy from Memphis, where he was born. Baby Chuck was only six weeks old then but he seemed to know that he was going home to his daddy for he behaved beautifully. Everyone on the train remarked about how lovely he was and he disturbed no one. When he got to Seattle, she smiled at his daddy and won his heart as he already had his mother's. Mother felt very proud and very humble at being able to put such a fine baby boy in this father's arms."

The book is filled with the milestones celebrated in every baby's life. One interesting note, we learn where slow teething comes from genetically speaking that is. Hazel writes, "Chuck got his first tooth Monday, March 19th when he was nine months and eleven days old. He then cut six in six weeks."

After Grandmother Cone (Hazel) died, I asked Granddaddy about how they had met. He related the story about going to Memphis and added that Hazel's mother had been a difficult woman who had been an invalid following a train accident. She had expected Hazel would never marry and stay home to care for her parents. Because Hazel had lost her right eye in an accident at home when she was a child, Ida Dye Allen assumed and told Hazel that no man would find her attractive enough to marry. In reading the baby book, Hazel's love and excitement at becoming a wife and mother are obvious on every page. Chuck was clearly adored.

So another Happy Birthday Chuck, Daddy, Granddaddy! You were well loved and are still missed.