Judy was born at 10:45 am on 5 November 1944 in the small town of Coleman, Texas to Charles Goodman and Jewel Bilbrey. When Judy was born Charles was 48 and Jewel was 38 so its probably safe to assume that her arrival was a bit of a surprise. Awaiting the new baby were two older brothers, Donnie born in 1930 and Bobby born in 1933, There is a family story that before Judy was born Bobby went around the neighborhood asking "if the new baby was a boy would they take it because his family already had two.
From the day of her birth until 24 January 1948 Judy led a happy life. But that morning it all changed. Jewel did things about the house, including writing a letter. She then took the letter outside and placed it in the mailbox and then walked around the corner to call Charles to come in the house for lunch. It was bitterly cold that January. When Jewel reached her husband's Radiator Repair Shop Charles had at least two large open faced heaters blazing. Apparently, Jewel was splashed with some kind of flammable liquid and she stumbled backward into one of the heaters. In a few short seconds she was totally engulfed. Despite Charles' quick action to snuff out the flames and get Jewel to the local hospital, she died later that same night. When her mother's funeral was over Judy, aged 3 years, 2 months, and 19 days, was sent to live with her mother's sister, Leota Bilbrey Shaw in San Saba, TX.
Life with her Aunt Leota and Uncle Frank was pleasant.
Frank and Leota had two teenage children, Frank, Jr. and Barbara Sue who were always kind. Aunt Leota was a nurse at the local hospital. Uncle Frank worked for the Acheson Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. The entire family was very active in the local Baptist Church. As Judy got older Aunt Leota began teaching her to play the piano. There were singing lessons and dance lessons and, of course, recitals with beautiful dresses. For many years Judy could still tap dance to "School Days" though she never claimed it was much of an accomplishment. Still it used to make her husband chuckle.
In September 1950 Judy's father Charles married Grace B. Lee and Judy was brought back home. Sadly the marriage lasted only a few weeks. Charles and Grace were divorced later that same year. Judy doesn't remember much about the time when she, her Father, and Grace were a family. What she does remember is about a time when Grace took her to Paris, Texas. While they were there, Grace bought her some new shoes. When they got home Judy was excited and kept wanting to show off her new shoes, but her Father was angry and wasn't interested in her shoes. Looking back she had the impression that Grace did not have her Father's permission to take her to Paris and that was the source of her Father's anger.
Their divorce was final on 18 December 1950; Judy was sent back to her Aunt Leota and Uncle Frank's.
Charles tried one more time to find a wife who would make a home for Judy. There was a family named Harper who lived next door to Charles. Mr. Harper had a sister who was divorced or widowed with a young son who was severely disabled and spent most of his time in a baby bed. Her name was Atha Harper. Only Charles and Atha could tell the truth of their arrangement, but it was surmised that Charles agreed to give Atha and her boy a home; Atha agreed to make a home for Judy. In any event, Charles and Atha were married on 27 April 1952. Judy was, once again, brought home from her Aunt Leota and Uncle Frank's. She was 7 years, 5 months, and 22 days old. Life was OK with Atha and her little boy for a while. But little by little Atha's behavior became very erratic and before the year was out her Father and Mr. Harper decided that she needed professional help. Judy was sitting with Atha in the living room one day when her Father and Mr. Harper came in with two gentlemen from a hospital in San Antonio. The gentlemen took Atha away and Judy never saw her again. Atha remained a patient in that hospital until she died.
Only this time her Father decided that Judy was old enough to stay home without a mother figure to take care of her. So her Father enrolled her in the first grade of South Ward Elementary School and the next phase of her life began.
For the most part the next few years were loving ones. Judy would get up in the morning and get dressed, and would then go next door and Mrs. Harper would fix her hair. As best anyone could remember Judy and Mrs. Harper kept up this routine for the next three or four years. By that time Judy was able to take care of her own hair care needs. Ever so often, as hairstyles changed, Judy would ask her Father for money and pay a visit to her neighborhood beauty shop.
Judy had her own room and used to hang up pictures of possible career choices. She still remembers the beautiful poster of the universe she had when she decided she wanted to become an astronomer.
Judy's brother Donnie had joined the Air Force before their mother died. So Judy had never seen this brother until he flew in one evening on the way to Japan. Judy recalls the evening went something like this: "Judy, this is your brother, Donnie Pat. It's way past your bedtime. Say goodnight and go on to bed." I think Judy was in the sixth grade. She never saw Donnie again until he came back home to join Judy and their brother Bobby to arrange their Father's funeral. Now Bobby also joined the military while Judy was still living in San Saba. But he used to come home on leave every few months so he was more familiar to Judy.
On 4 May 1959, a Monday, Judy's Father told her he was tired and was going to bed early. Judy was lying on the sofa in the living room watching the TV that her brother Bobby had bought for her and her Father some months prior. He warned her not to fall asleep on the sofa because the next day was a school day. Of course Judy promptly fell asleep as he had warned her not to. But she woke some time in the night, got up, turned off the TV, and went to bed. In the morning she got up and got ready to go to school. Her Father still wasn't up so she went in to kiss him goodbye and let him know she was leaving for school. When she went to his bedroom and bent over to kiss his cheek his face was very cold. She called out to him over and over and then ran for the front door. About the time Judy reached the door she found Mrs. Harper, her neighbor, there. Mrs. Harper said she had heard Judy screaming and had come running over to see what was wrong. Judy calmed down a little with Mrs. Harper there. She told her she found her Father cold when she went in to kiss him goodbye that morning. Mrs. Harper took Judy outside and had her sit down on the porch steps while she went back inside. After a few minutes she came back outside and told Judy that her Father had passed away and Judy needed to come home with her.
On that day, 5 May 1959, Judy was 14 years, 6 months old. She was never allowed to set foot in her own home again.
After her father's funeral Judy was sent to live in Schenectady, New York with her brother Donnie who was married and had a family. To Judy it was like crash landing in a foreign country. For example, in Schenectady you would never drop by to see a friend with out calling first. In laid-back Texas Judy and her friends were in and out of each other's homes all the time. Also, even the language was different. Instead of a purse you carried a pocketbook, etc. Despite the "fish out of water" feel of her time in Schenectady, Judy enjoyed her school years there.
The summer between her Junior and Senior years Judy moved back to Texas. Her brother had made arrangements for Judy to stay with her Aunt Hermalea and cousin Janice who was just a year younger than Judy. So she packed up all her worldly goods in a foot locker and boarded a train for San Antonio. It took 2 1/2 days for her train to make the journey from Schenectady, NY to San Antonio, TX. It was the first real taste of independence Judy had ever experienced and she really didn't know what to make of it.
Her Aunt Hermalea and cousin Janice met her on her arrival and they drove straight back to their home. At the time Aunt Hermalea was married to a military man named Bill who was stationed overseas somewhere, but Judy never learned his last name. In their home it was just Bill did this and Bill said that, etc. It was clear that Aunt Hermalea loved him and Janice adored him. They could hardly wait for him to come back home. Judy enrolled herself in Sam Houston High School as a senior and settled down to begin living again. It was 1962.
Over Labor Day weekend Aunt Lea (as she preferred to be called) asked if they would like to go to Santa Anna, TX to visit her parents and Janice and Judy's grandparents. Of course they told her they'd love to and off they went. It was the first time Judy had seen them since her father's funeral four years earlier and she was overjoyed. Janice said every time she came to visit her grandparents she always called a boy she knew and he would come over. This time she would tell him to bring a friend. The friend he brought was named Bobby Joe Wardlow.
After they returned to San Antonio Judy assumed she would probably not see Bobby again except perhaps on some future visit to Santa Anna. But on her birthday in early November Bobby and his friend drove down to San Antonio. Judy was very surprised and very pleased. Her heart was telling her that she liked this young man very much. She thinks they went to the movies, she and Bobby and Janice and his friend, but she's not sure. She and Janice and Aunt Lea made another trip to Santa Anna for another, longer visit for Thanksgiving. During that visit Judy and Bobby spent as much time as possible together.
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