Dayton Vennard Young Life Story

Dayton Vennard Young -- autobiography

May 1, 1913 - February 7, 2002
Edited by: Charles Young

Dayton - high school grad  
Dad lived in Fort Smith, Arkansas most of his life. He has traveled some. In his youth he hitchhiked and rode buses. He lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a while, served a short time in the Army Air Corp (now the Air Force), and in the 1990's he and Mom made a few trips to South Carolina to visit my sister. In his younger years, Dad did lots of sketches and paintings. Later he took up photography. He rode many miles on a bicycle during his lifetime. Most of his working years were as a printer at Weldon, Williams, and Lick.

Although Dad was not much of a conversationalist, he would often talk to people about getting right with God. He often prayed for family members, relatives, and acquaintances to get saved and make it to heaven. Dad didn't write much -- he mostly left the writing to Mom. Dad was a good teacher -- the best kind -- the kind that teaches by example. He knew a lot, just didn't say much. Always kept up with current events and people by reading the newspaper and watching some TV news. Whenever he found a newspaper article about a relative or someone he had worked with, he would cut the article out to save.

Dad didn't talk much about his childhood or relatives. I guess he always thought that wasn't an interesting topic. However, I have asked some questions and gotten some answers which appear here. Since he rarely talked about his youth, he has forgotten some things. I have tried to record much of what he remembered. Here is Dad's story.

Dayton born here

I was born in a house at North C and 22nd in 1913 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I had blonde hair and blue eyes. I was my father's 7th child and my mother's first child. My youngest half sister was about 20 years old when I was born, so I was raised pretty much as an only child.

July 1915 Mother wrote some things in her diary about my early years. We moved to 1409 North C. when I was maybe 2 years old, and lived there until I was maybe 8 years old. That was a 2 story house. I started school at Peabody Elementary on 20th near Rogers (now an adult education center). My Dad had made good money in the real estate business, but when he got older, we weren't taking in enough money to pay the rent. Mom took in boarders and did what she could to support us. She served dinner and supper to the boarders.

She had maybe 3 roomers and 6 boarders. Roomers didn't eat there, but boarders did. We still could not pay the rent, so we moved to a house Dad owned at 616 North 5th Street. We lived there until I was about 10 years old. For the 3rd grade I attended Belle Grove Elementary on 6th St. Dayton - school photo

We attended the First Methodist church at 13th and B. They were building a church 2 blocks away on 15th and B. I remember the laying of the corner stone in 1919. Mother had encouraged me to get out of the house, so I spent some time watching the construction. I watched them put the organ in there. We moved to 406 North 18th street when I was about 9 or 10 years old. We lived there until I got married.

I attended 4th through 8th grade at Peabody. At that time Peabody was 1st through 8th. Then I attended Fort Smith High at 14th and Grand. When I was in the 9th grade, they were building a new school. It was completed in time for me to go there beginning with the 10th grade. That school is now known as Fort Smith Northside. The old high school became a junior high for grades 7 - 9. It is now known as Darby Junior High. I had attended summer school in the 4th grade and graduated a half year early.

Dad (Willard Young) died when I was 13 years old. In 1937 we tore down the old 2 story house on 18th Street and built the rock house that stands there now. The old house was getting so bad it had to be replaced. We lived at 9th and B for less than a year while the new house was being built. I drew up the plans for the house and hired a contractor. We used some materials from the old house. Mother borrowed about $2,000 for the house from a man named Armbruster, I think it was O.K. Armbruster. He had a body shop on 8th or 9th. He was the first in Fort Smith at least to take Cadillacs and extend them to make limousines. That was Ed Armbruster's brother. Ed was my foreman at Weldon Williams and Lick. Dayton

While I was in high school a couple of summers I worked on an ice wagon. One was a horse drawn wagon, and the other was a model T Ford wagon. The first summer I made about $5 a week. The next summer I made $6 or $7 a week. That was when many people still used ice boxes. I saved most of that money. Just about the only thing I spent money on was haircuts.

I studied printing in high school. It was a government program called Smith Hughes. It seems like I studied English and science, but much of the time was in print shop training. I had algebra and geometry, but it wasn't as full a course as a regular high school course.

My hearing was normal when I was young, but gradually deteriorated until about the 11th grade I noticed that I was having trouble understanding people. Both ears were affected.

Dayton 1932 I graduated from high school in January, 1931. I wasn't very good about looking for jobs. For several years after school I hitchhiked and did sketches and paintings.

I started doing art while in school. I often went to rural areas to sketch or paint. Most of the sketches were pencil with a few in ink. The paintings were mostly oil paint. Also I did some portraits of people I knew.

I had an uncle, Ed Hockmeyer, in Muskogee, Oklahoma who had a monument company. He had a son, Paul, about 2 years older than me. Ed wrote to my mother and suggested that I hitchhike to Muskogee and spend a week with him, so I did. That got me started on hitchhiking. That was probably about 1930.

I hitchhiked to Saint Louis in 1933. I saw an ad in the paper for a round trip bus ticket to Chicago for $3. That was a cheap bus company called the Gray Bus Line. They didn't have first class buses. The bus would stop at a railroad crossing and then have to use the starter to get rolling again. I stayed at the YMCA for 3 or 4 days and attended the World's Fair. Admission to the World's Fair was a few dollars. The hotels or YMCA cost about $1 a night. A haircut was about a quarter.

Another time I went to Denver. They had on the window of a bar that buttermilk was 5 cents. I wouldn't think of drinking a beer, but I thought that was a good price for buttermilk, so I went in and bought a buttermilk. I wanted to go to Pike's Peak, but I didn't think I had enough money. I went into the office where they had trips to Pike's Peak to see about it. They said that most cars would not make it up the mountain. They used Pierce Arrows which were expensive cars. The man tried to sell me on going in a car that would take a family with a daughter -- he thought that I would want to ride with them. Well I would have liked to, but I knew I was no match for the daughter of an engineer, and I didn't think that I could afford it. I saw downtown Denver and came back home. Sometimes between cities I would sleep wherever I could find a place to lay down. I have slept on a school porch and just off the side of the road.

I also went to New Orleans. I was going to visit a friend who lived in New Orleans, and wanted me to come see him. I started out in August before elections. My first ride was a politician going to Jenny Lind. Then a man driving a Model A Ford picked me up. He was with the Shipley Baking Company -- his name was Shipley. He asked if we ate Wholesome bread. I told him no hardly ever. Then later I told him that my half brother, Eugene, ran a bakery. Eugene called his bread Royal Cream Bread. My Dad had made bread for a while and later turned the bakery over to his boys. The 3 of them couldn't make enough money, so Gene took over the bakery. Photos

We got close to New Orleans and came to a toll ferry. The man I was riding with wanted me to hide so that he wouldn't have to pay an extra 10 cents for a passenger. I didn't do it and the man had to pay my way across the river.

A lady and her daughter picked me up. The car, a Model A Ford, had been in a minor wreck and it was hard to keep on the road. The woman had a hard time driving. I learned how to drive a Model T Ford, but didn't know how to drive a car with a gear shift. They lived at Huma, Louisiana and decided to let me spend the night at their house. From there I made it the rest of the way to New Orleans. I was interested in the sidewalk artists close to Bourbon Street downtown. I saw downtown New Orleans.

Dayton 1935 I didn't find my friend. I had his address, but it turned out that it was a gas station where he picked up his mail. I turned around and came back home. That was my last hitchhiking trip.

My cousin, Eldon Miller and his brother Milton, in Washington, Missouri had a print shop. I worked in his print shop a couple of months. He took me to the art museum in Saint Louis.

I worked for Bly printing on 9th close to Sears between Garrison and A. I did everything that needed to be done except the office work. The total number of employees was about 5. I worked there from 1934 to 1935.

I worked at Fort Smith printing for a while. That was run by a Mr. Wilmons. About 5 people worked there. That was on Garrison Ave. between 8th and 9th. I fed a ruling machine that puts lines on paper. Another man set it up, and I just fed the paper.

I went to work at Weldon Williams and Lick in March, 1936. I ran a job press. At one time I repaired numbering machines. Toward the end I did a few other things as well.

Mother attended services at a mission at 309 Garrison for awhile during the depression. They had a service every night. Then the mission moved to Wheeler Ave near Holsom Bakery.

sidewalk church service

ACCORDION A man from England played the push button accordion. Around the 4th grade Mom bought one for $20 from the Sears catalog. I taught myself to play. In the neighborhood a boy about my age played the push button accordion. I took it to church (a small A/G), but didn't know about different keys and it didn't work out. It was like a harmonica (pulling gives one note, and pushing gives a different note). A 3 row accordion could play in 3 different keys.

Dayton Mother was interested in me getting a piano accordion when I was about 19 years old (1932). We bought it used at a music store for $120. I got some books and taught myself to play it.

$120 for an accordion sounds reasonable, but a bit later in the story note that a good used car sold for $300.

I didn't go to church for a while. I ran with catholic boys in the neighborhood. In 1935 I got back to the Lord and started going to church with Mother at the Assembly of God church on Towson Avenue 2 or 3 blocks below (south of) Dodson. C.A. Laster pastored the church for several years. He was one of the original preachers when the Assemblies of God movement started in Hot Springs. I also attended services with Mother at the mission and played the accordion there. I received the Holy Ghost in 1936.

Then the church moved to 12th Street and Dodson Avenue. We referred to it as 12th and Dodson church. I painted a scenic picture on the wall behind the baptistery. It was an original painting, and remained there until the church was torn down to make room for a new building now known as Evangel Temple Assembly of God.

About 1942 or 43 there was a church split, and we started attending New Bethel Assembly of God Church. The Darrel Hon family attended there also. Brother Gaugh was pastor. New Bethel was a small brick church when we started going there.

New Bethel Assembly of God Church, Fort Smith, Arkansas - 1950's The church had started in about 1922 as a tent revival on a vacant lot across the street from where the church was later built. Brother Ray gave the land to the church, and he or someone in the family was the brick mason who built the brick church. Brother Ray's cousin, Norma Ray Brasuell, lives across the road from Plainview A/G where we attended for many years. Also Clara Dunham was related to the Ray's. Some of the Dunham children went to Plainview while Mina was pastoring there.

Then a bigger church (New Bethel) was built in maybe 1945. It had a basement with Sunday School rooms. That church is pictured on the left. During that time the church had weekly programs on radio station KFSA as advertised in this handout. Other pastors at New Bethel include; C.C. Crace, W.E.A. McCann from Texas, Floyd Garver, and Brother Hardcastle Sr. who had been District Supt. in Oklahoma and Arkansas and was pastor when I met my future wife, Mina Arnold.

  Dayton - uniform Dayton in uniform
Dayton - car
I was drafted into the Army in 1942. Mother encouraged me to fill out a form saying that I didn't want to kill people. Bro. C.A. Laster at 12th & Dodson filled that out for me. I put my car up for sale. I left for Little Rock on a train. A month later Mother sold my car to a Mr. Cowan for $300. I spent Thanksgiving riding a train from Biloxi, Mississippi to Denver, Colorado. I was in the army just over 6 months. Went in October 9, 1942. Honorably discharged May 6th, 1943. I was in the Air Corp at Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado.

I took basic training at an air field in Biloxi and photography courses in Denver for a month. I got sick with pneumonia and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. (Mother wrote in her diary that I was in the hospital 7 weeks.) They gave me a discharge on account of my hearing. Then I took a train back to Fort Smith.

I later used my knowledge of photography to set up my own dark room to process the photos I took. I have been an amateur photographer most of my life, and was a member of the Fort Smith camera club for a few years. I have owned several good cameras over the years.

Dale Young discovered some of Dad's old negatives and scanned a few of them. One of the photos is snow covered Garrison Avenue (downtown Fort Smith) probably from the mid 1940's.

Garrison Avenue - Fort Smith This is a photo I took of Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith.

I felt that God was calling me to go somewhere else, but did not know where or why. I prayed about it and fasted. In 1946 I quit my job and went to Tulsa where I lived and worked for about 6 months. Friends of the family, Lank and Henrietta Gregory Pigg, had moved to Tulsa, but sometimes returned to Fort Smith to visit. I rode with the Piggs to Tulsa and found work at a small printing company -- the first place I looked. Then I came back to Fort Smith. I worked a little while at Meek Printing Company, and then went back to Weldon Williams and Lick. I retired in 1989 at age 75.

I used to wonder why Dad felt like he needed to leave Fort Smith and work elsewhere for a time. I now think that perhaps it was part of a maturing process for him. He was a late bloomer -- too shy to ask for a job for several years after graduating high school, living with his mother who made most decisions for him, and maybe he needed to get out on his own for a while to grow up. I think his mother knew this as well, and that may be why years earlier she had arranged for Dad to live briefly with his uncle in Muskogee and another uncle in Washington, Missouri.

I married Mina Christine Arnold in 1950. She had been living in Springfield, Missouri and working at the Assemblies of God Gospel Publishing house. I met her when she was assigned to train Sunday School teachers at our church (New Bethel) in Fort Smith. Mina and I married in Springfield, Missouri. The preacher was John Paul Copeland. Witnesses were Brother Marcus L. Grable and Flora Sprinkle.

We lived with my Mother for a short time, then moved to an apartment at 910 N. F Street in Fort Smith where we lived for about a year. We bought property on Park Avenue. I drew up plans for the house and had it built. Kitchens were normally at the back of the house, but I put ours in front. Mina was able to see what was happening outside as she prepared meals and washed dishes.

The property had been owned by Senator J. William Fulbright's father, sister, and nephew. Charles discovered this and other info by reading the title history that Dayton received when he bought the land.

Dayton 1953 Mina and I have 5 children. We were 37 years old when we married, and 46 when the youngest child was born.

In 1952 New Bethel church was outgrowing the building. Some wanted to build a larger church, but others did not want to go into debt to do so. Eventually several of us left to build another church, Faith Assembly of God. We were charter members of the church. While the church was under construction, we rented the auditorium at Albert Pike Elementary School for Sunday services. The church was a small building with distinctive rock walls made of light brown flat rocks. Later a larger auditorium was built with similar rock walls. The old church was used for a youth hall and Sunday School rooms. Later we started attending Central Assembly of God Church.

In the late 1950's or early 60's my niece, Katherine Croom, told me about a surgeon in Little Rock who could correct certain hearing problems. Mina and I traveled to Little Rock. I think the first trip was a diagnostic thing to determine if the operation would help. Then we made another trip for the operation. The operation was done on only one ear. It improved my hearing in that ear so much that I could hear without a hearing aid, although my hearing was still not normal. If a person talked from my bad ear side, I still could not understand them. Over the years my hearing in that ear has gotten worse, but it is probably much better than it would be if I had not had the operation.

After Dad's death, I believe I discovered a possible cause of Dad's lifetime hearing disability. In a letter that Grandma Young wrote to her sister, Anna, in Missouri, she said that Dad, (Dayton's father) played the loudspeaker so loud that Dayton could not bring his friends into the house. A former neighbor told me that Dad's hearing loss was noticeable even when he was in elementary school. Surely Willard did not know that he was permanently damaging his son's hearing. Even today people do not seem to understand that hearing loss occurs below the level of pain. Even though this is now a proven fact, unfortunately concert goers are routinely subjected to ear splitting sound levels.

I built several electronic kits by Eico and Heathkit. It was audio equipment that would now be called home entertainment. I built a shortwave Knight kit receiver. I bought a big dish satellite TV system almost as soon as they were affordable on the home market. There are many free (unscrambled) channels on C band satellite, so I just watched the free stuff for over 15 years. In the late 90's I bought a small dish system and paid about $9 per month for a package of religious programming.

I rode a bicycle to work for several years. After the children left home I rode some long trips. I rode across Oklahoma with the Tulsa bike club. I rode to Little Rock to visit Charles and family 2 different times. That was about 170 miles one way. The first time I was going to spend the night in Conway, but they wouldn't let me stay at the motel because I couldn't give them a license plate number. I found another motel to stay at. After that I put a toy license tag on my bike to make the motel people happy. I would often ride nearly 100 miles in a day to Ozark, Arkansas and back or to Stillwell, Oklahoma. In the mid 1990s I no longer had the energy for long bike rides. In 1997, I was diagnosed with CLL, a slow leukemia.

The leukemia weakened Dayton, but did not dampen his spirits. He seemed to be near death several times since 1998, but he was able to bounce back until a final brief bout with pneumonia.

Dayton had been a member of Plainview Assembly of God Church since about 1970. The family had previously attended other A/G churches at different times including; New Bethel, Faith, Central, and Union in Paris. Dayton believed in laying up treasures in heaven. He gave freely to missions expecting that many people would learn about God and accept the gift of salvation and eternal life.

David's childhood memories:

One of my favorite memories is the kitchen stool, but the stool isn't in the kitchen, it's in the living room with fresh hair clippings scattered around. Dad was the resident barber. With five children in the family, home clips were a necessity. Though hair cuts didn't thrill me, especially as short as Dad sometimes cut it, it was family time. Either Dad played a record from his classical collection or Sis practiced the piano with the faint tick, tick, tick of the timer in the background. The timer made honest musicians out of us when it came to practicing our instruments. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the freshly-oiled clippers and feel the cool edge of the scissors run across my forehead as Dad trims my bangs.

Dad's dark room holds other warm memories. This is where photo magic took place, where a picture mysteriously appeared on a white four- by five-inch page of history. Of course the image had to be shot onto paper which was then bathed in chemicals that smelled like diluted cousins of the vinegar family. Only a low-powered, yellow bulb, which barely gave off enough light to see, illuminated the room. The dark room was aptly named. I spent countless hours here, especially at Christmas time. Dad took our family picture, developed the film in his dark room, and then mailed the photos to family and friends. Our reward for dressing in our Sunday best on a weeknight, enduring the heat of the bright lights, and holding still with pasted smiles, was the opportunity to have one picture taken of us posing any way we chose. Funny, Dad and Mom never selected this shot for our annual mailing. Maybe it didn't adequately convey the Christmas message "peace and goodwill."

Flocine Coble Huey recalls Dayton's childhood and told Charles about some of her memories of Dayton. Flocine Coble lived with her family across 18th strreet from Dayton. She was 5 years younger than Dayton. Several families in the neighborhood had children, but the only family name she rememebers besides Young is Ruttle. Dayton was very shy. Flocine believes that Dayton did not play with the other children because they did not want to play with someone who could not hear well. There was an iron lamp post on the corner. When one of the neighborhood children wanted the others to come out and play, he or she would pick up a brick and bang it on the lamp post. Most of the children would come outside when they heard the call of the lamp post, but Dayton did not. Perhaps he did not hear it, or perhaps he was just too shy.

Dayton and his mother attended church whenever the doors were open, and sometimes visited other churches. When Dayton was 20 something years old, Flocine heard that Dayton's mother was concerned about Dayton being too shy to talk with young women. She arranged at least one visit with a preacher's family who had a daughter about Dayton's age, but nothing came of it.

  We miss Dad, and know that one day we will be reunited with him in Heaven. The family wishes to thank neighbors and friends who helped Dad and Mom in many ways during Dad's last few years. A special thanks to next door neighbors, Bob and Terri Durbin.

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