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Harry Estes and Inez (Hixson) Hawkins



Harry Estes Hawkins was born March 21, 1904, in Preston, Webster County, Georgia, a small town near Plains, Georgia (home of former President Jimmy Carter). He lived on the family plantation which grew cotton and peanuts. (Click here to see a picture of the Hawkins house in Preston.) Harry attended school in Preston. As a young person Harry worked in a service station and delivered groceries in a red wagon. Later he continued his education in 1923 at Gordon Institute in Barnesville, Georgia, and Georgia Tech University in 1924. Harry played fullback on the football teams at these schools. Once he broke his nose on the field. He remained an avid football fan his whole life.

As a man in his early twenties Harry lived in and worked surveying city streets in New Orleans, Louisiana, before coming to Arkansas. The man he was working for came to Arkansas to work on a road job near Melbourne. He ask Harry to come along as an instrument man using the transit. They lived in the woods for months. (It was at this time that) Inez says, "He and his Dad had a falling out. He was living out there where he couldn't spend any money, living in a tent. He'd saved up enough money to buy that car. First car he ever owned. His father got in financial straits and he wanted him to sell the car and send him the money. Harry wouldn't do it, so they had a falling out and they didn't contact each other for quite awhile after that."

Harry came to Mountain View, Arkansas, to work on a road and there he met Inez Hixson. Inez says, "When you live in a small town everyone knows everyone and he just turned up some place I was, some sort of party." At first he dated Inez's cousin Opal.

Inez Hixson was born January 9, 1913, in Mountain View, Arkansas. Inez was an only child. Her house as a child was an old frame, one story house about two blocks northwest of the square in town on King Street. It had two bedrooms and an out house. Cooking was done on an old wood stove. There was a well outside the back door. Inez says, "When I was little there wasn't any electricity as we know it today in rural areas and we had a little old delco (a storage shed for a generator) they called it, you know that produced electricity. And my Dad, in those days also there weren't any dairies, and you just bought milk from an individual if you didn't have your own cow so my Dad never would give up having a cow even though it was alot of work. So, he bought Mom an electric churn and people would come from miles around to see that old churn work. It had a pulley that went around a wheel and it made that thing go up and down. It was like a big crock jar." Inez would also watch her mother make butter by shaking it in a jar. The household also contained a number of chickens.

Inez liked to play with paper dolls. She says, "I had a cousin Ralph who'd used to say if you'll go to the barn loft and play cowboys and Indians with me I'll play paper dolls with you. But I didn't really have anyone to play with. The only girl in the neighborhood was retarded and she wasn't any fun."

The thing Inez remembers most of her childhood were the trips. "I love to travel. We went one time to Helena, Arkansas and got on an excursion boat and went down the Mississippi to Vicksburg. And I thought I was Queen Victoria or someone to get to go on a cruise ship. It was one of these three deck affairs. And my Dad being an editor belonged to the Arkansas Press Delegation and wherever we went they treated us like royalty. Fixed up banquets, you know, and such. Food the likes I never saw at home ever."

Inez went to school in Mountain View and graduated from high school at age 16 after completing two grades in one year twice !!! One of her boyfriends during these school years was Jimmy Driftwood. Jimmy changed his name to a stage name of Johnnie Horton. He wrote a song that can still be heard on the radio called The Battle of New Orleans.

Christmas had to be a special time for Inez. She tells that the tradition was to take the one present you got for Christmas with you to church on Christmas Eve. The presents were put on a cord which hung until the Christmas pageant was over. Then the presents were open for all to see. What a beautiful way to share the true meaning of the season.

Harry and Inez had known each other six or seven months when they got married. Their courtship wasn't as formal as Inez's parents had been. She says all there was to do was ride around in the car. Inez says, "Harry wasn't much of a gift giver and her engagement ring was the first present she could remember. They were married in the Stone County Court House in Mountain View with only friends in attendance. They fudged a bit on Inez's age when they got their marriage license although her parents didn't care if they got married. Their wedding night was spent in Marcella with Harry going back to work the next day.

Harry and Inez had seven girls: 1) Anita Grace born December 4, 1929 2) Mary Elizabeth born January 21, 1931 3) Sylvia Ann born August 27, 1932 4) Billie June born February 8, 1934 5) Nancy Gail born November 1, 1935 6) Dorothy Ellen born July 28, 1937 and 7) Linda Kathryn born September 8, 1939. Inez says the most memorable thing about raising seven girls was the ironing, pinning up hair every night and polishing shoes. She said every night also meant a check for clean underwear and socks.

As a profession Harry was an engineer. He worked for the Federal Corp of Engineers, Arkansas Highway Department and Missouri Highway Department. His social security number was 429-05-0484. He worked on Bull Shoals Dam. His last big project was the Lock and Dam #6 and #7 in Little Rock. He explained these projects as a navigational project without which it would be virtually impossible for the barges to travel upstream on the Arkansas River. After retirement he volunteered on Tuesday mornings at the hospital taking patients to X-ray and the lab. He had over 1700 hours of service. Harry would say, "I thank the Lord at my age I can still help others and even those younger than myself." Being the true Southerner that he was, Harry liked to eat grits and could often to found singing (while playing the ukulele) Let Me Call You Sweetheart to his lovely wife and little girls. I can still hear him calling his girls "Sugar".

Their marriage was a peaceful one with perhaps one exception. Harry and Inez used to go round and round about blacks. Harry would say, "You never lived around them. They live like dogs (their morals) down there (the South)."

Inez would say that her Dad had a saying for everything, and she could be accused of the same. "It's a crying shame you can't start school at age 30" and "Bless you El-phonz" are just a couple. One of Inez's habits was that she had to have caffinated coffee in the mornings or she'd get a headache. Only the second person I'd ever known this way. Inez says her favorite color is brown, green and yellow, her favorite food freshly cooked roast beef and her favorite song You Light Up My Life. The family sang this song to her at a 80th birthday party in 1993 and it was performed by her grandsons, Brian and Daniel, at her funeral.

Both Harry and Inez kept busy with hobbies. Inez liked bingo and rook. Rook was the only card game her father allowed her to play growing up. She was also very good at ceramics. Harry loved to do crossword puzzles and have a large garden. Both really enjoyed fishing together.

I always thought of the word dignified when I thought of Harry. He was a quiet man and very intelligent. He was a family man from the start. When his two oldest girls were at the college age he once broke down crying and said he thought he was a failure because he couldn't afford to send them both to college at once with five others still at home. A failure he wasn't. Inez was always a very loving woman, always ready to travel the country to help her family after they had left home. I don't think I ever saw her mad until her later years when I think she was angry she still couldn't do all the things she wanted to do. She was always a hard worker.

Harry died on December 6, 1984, of a blood clot to the lung following colon cancer surgery. He is buried at Rest Hills Cemetery, North Little Rock Arkansas. Inez died in Dallas, Texas, while visiting family for Christmas on December 26, 1997. She had a stoke in about March of 1994 which surely contributed to the blood clot that killed her. She was buried along side Harry on December 30, 1997.


References:
Personal knowledge and interviews
Social Security Death Index - Internet

Harry's Birth Certificate
Harry and Inez's Marriage Certificate
Harry and Inez's Death Records
Family Pictures
Tombstone of Harry and Inez Hawkins