Durn cats, why do they like to sleep on my keyboard? I wanted to go back through my stories and make sure all of the I’s are crossed and T’s are dotted but my cat slept on my keyboard. Now when I look for my story folder, all I can find is qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq.
Can you imagine almost being full grown, then finding out that you aren’t who you are suppose to be?
That’s what happened to my Dad. In 1942 at the beginning of WWII, my Dad Julius Frailey quit school in the middle of the 12th grade to join the service. His choice was the US Navy.
Only 17 at the time, Dad needed his parents permission to enlist, that and a copy of his birth certificate. The only problem was, his parents had a glitch involved with providing his birth certificate.
His Dad, Andrew Winer told him that he had been adopted when he was two years old. His real last name was Frailey. Andy had started the adoption process many years before, but never had the extra money required to get a lawyer to file the proper paperwork.
Dad was told that both of his birth parents had been drinkers. They partied so much that the county took their children away and put them in a county home. The Winer’s had a childless marriage, they took my Dad home to fill that void when he was 2 and a half years old.
The German couple had been farmers in rural south Indiana. They raised Dad as their own. He helped with the farm labor and repaid them with free labor and a life long devotion.
When Dad presented his actual birth certificate to the Navy recruiter it read Julius Roscoe Frailey.
Dad’s curiosity was aroused. He wanted to know more about his real parents, did he have any brothers and sisters? He enlisted the aide of the American Red Cross to find out.
One thing leads to another. He didn’t get the whole story all at once, in fact it took him over 40 years to find out the whole truth.
Nellie Hillenberg Frailey was his birth Mom. The Red Cross found her through country records. Dad was the oldest son with 3 other siblings. Hepsie Beulah, Mary Mae and a younger brother James.
After the county removed the children from the home, they were all placed in an orphanage. Nellie got her act together and was able to recover custody of three of her kids but not Dad. He had already been adopted they were told and it was too late to get him back.
Andrew Winer told my Dad that his real father, Sam Frailey had worked on his farm one season and came to him with a proposition. Sam told him that he had a son in the county home. He said he couldn’t provide for him and that for a fee of $250.00 he would sign away his custodial rights to him.
This was a big shock to Dad. Here he had loved this old German couple for what he thought was his whole life, only to find out that they had bought him like a loaf of bread at the store.
He told me that although they had provided for him and gave him a place to live, that he was raised in a home with no love or emotion. Strictly enforced was the rule, that if you want to eat, you gotta work. No shortage of work on a farm. No luxuries either. Electricity and running water were non existent. His bedding material consisted of a corn shuck mattress and a worn out quilt. His wardrobe mainly consisted of overalls and work boots. He told me that he looked forward to Christmas, in the good years he received an orange in his stocking. The out house, which I got to personally inspect many years later, was adorn with a Sears and Roebuck catalogue, with half of the pages missing and a wooden bucket of corn cobs, broke in half. (Now I know exactly what “rough as a cob” means.”
Soon after he enlisted in the Navy, before he got out of boot camp in Great Lakes during the winter of ’43, Dad was told by the American red Cross, that his birth mother had been located, she was now living with his siblings in Bakersfield, California.
After boot camp graduation Dad hopped a train to Bakersfield to get acquainted with his Mom and to meet his brother and sisters. Nellie had married a fellow by the name of Roy Brown. He was from the same neck of the woods as she, a non drinker and a hard worker. Together they had decided to move to California to look for a new start.
Nellie filled Dad in on his rough beginnings. She shouldered her half of the blame. She told him that she tried to get him back, but to no avail. She also told him that Sam Frailey had been married to several other women at the same time he was married to her.
Sam became an itinerant farm worker, a mechanic, a miner, what ever he could do to get enough money to get drunk. He moved from town to town, marrying unsuspecting women along the way, having several children by each, maintaining several families simultaneously. She didn’t know how many, but his family was from Cave in Rock, Illinois, a good place to start looking for him.
Dad started out in the Navy as an enlisted man. His German upbringing had given him a strong work ethic, he rose through the ranks as an enlisted man, finally making senior chief before applying to Officer’s Candidate School, which he completed and was promoted to the rank of Ensign, in 1959.
Dad was never able to share love and devotion to his own family the way people think of it by today’s standards. He didn’t know how. To him every thing was cut or dry, no in betweens. You either did like you were supposed to do or you got punished to the max, just so you wouldn’t do it again.
He didn’t pretend to be any thing else, it was always easy to figure out which way he was coming from, because he didn’t sit on the fence. It was either his way or the highway.
He kept his family investigation going, finding out over the years that other brothers and sisters had been through the same ordeal as him. Though about a half a dozen siblings had died in childhood or child birth, he still had 19 siblings that lived. Sam Frailey had been married to 5 different women at the same time. Dad didn’t get to meet all of them until his later years when he was nearing the end of his road.
His real Dad Sam, came to meet us with a car load of youngins in 1960 right after Dad made Ensign. Dad let him stay with us for a day or two, but gave him the cold shoulder after that. He came to work for us at the Trailer Park when Dad was in Viet Nam. He mowed grass and helped shovel dirt and would scrape up enough money to go get a six pack, get out his guitar and then sing the “blues.”
I never showed my grandpa the kind of love or devotion that a grandchild should, how could I? Not after knowing how he treated my Dad. I did go to his funeral in Cave in Rock in 1975. I guess you could say his funeral looked like a clan meeting, they were quite a few of us there. There were about 300 people spread out on side off the hill, most of them were Fraileys, in the sprinkling rain. My brother Gary and I were there, we wondered how many of these people were our Grandpa’s off spring. Gary and I stood up in front of all these people we didn’t know and sang “Amazing Grace” at the church during the services. Folks not knowing any better, thought that we were the “Haggar Twins” from “Hee Haw.”
Dad made a real life “rag to riches” story out of his life. He gives most of the credit to couple that raised him as their own. When he died, he was paying taxes on over two million dollars worth of property, he owned several businesses and spent a lot of time trying to get reacquainted with his long lost siblings.
He left his wealth to his new bride, trusting that she would in turn, share the blessings with his kids by his first marriage. She didn’t, it doesn’t upset me though, I got to see how he made his. If I wanted to bad enough, I could do the same things he did. I just enjoy the love of my family more so than him and think I got the better end of the stick. Qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq!