Paul Dee Howard was born on a farm near Cyril, Oklahoma on December 28, 1915. His parents were Pleasant Howard and Almira Martha Smith. At the time of his birth, his father farmed a quarter section of an Indian allotment, four miles north of Fletcher and one and a half miles west of Cyril. His father “Pleas” met his mother “Ally” while he helped build the Frisco railroad near Cement. They married in 1905 and lived in Hillsboro, Indian Territory. Paul Dee was the youngest of five children from this marriage. The other children were Myrtle Howard Lowe, Elmer Howard, Francis Boyd Calhoun “Pash” Howard, and Leroy Brown Howard. From Ally’s two other marriages, Paul Dee also had three half-sisters, Leona Day Cable, Vera Strickler Moore, and Doris Strickler Garroutte, and a half-brother, Haskell Strickler. Pleas was severely injured while plowing on his farm near Cyril and died two days later in July 1920. Paul Dee was 4 and one half years old at the time of his father’s death.
The October 5, 2000 issue of the Comanche County Chronicle records the following interview with Paul Dee.
“After my Dad died, we moved to the Ozarks. My mother bought her dad’s farm. For my first two years of school in the Ozarks ten miles south of Locust Grove, Oklahoma. Then we moved back here to the farm straight north of Fletcher. I went to Indian Hill School. They found a dead Indian there so they named it Indian Hill. I went there until fourth grade. At Indian Hill the teacher had about four of us boys go once every month to get kindling to start the fire in our room school house. We had to go to the creek which was a half a mile away. We each had to get a full load on our back. It did not take us long to collect the kindling and we enjoyed playing in the woods. Just so long as we got back before 4:00 pm, we were OK. School hours were from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Lunch was a full hour and I always took a boiled egg and a sandwich, probably an applebutter sandwich. We had tin or aluminum pullout caps for drinking water. I rode a horse to school and at the beginning of noontime, I would go put the nosebag on her, to feed her with oats and then take it off at the end of the hour. We learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. At Indian Hill we had two-seater desks so we always had a partner. The girls were on one side and the boys were on the other. I remember Miss Beckett for a teacher. Sometimes when you got in trouble, she would make you sit with a girl if you were a boy. If you had to go sit with a girl, it was the worst thing that could happen. I had to walk three miles to school, when I went to Indian Hill. Then I went to live with my sister and brother-in-law in Fletcher because I was asthmatic and three miles to walk in the winter was too much for me. In those days every six miles there would be a country school. On Fridays we had a baseball game. We would head out at noon and walked to the other school to play their team. Then we would all walk back and be back by 4:00 pm. Most everybody would walk with us to see us play. When I was at Fletcher I played basketball. Since I lived in town I could go to the practices. We practiced at night. After school, we had to go home to do chores and eat supper. Then we would come back at night to practice. The gymnasium was like an old barn, no insulation. It was sure cold. We played full court, five on the court and I was forward. I was taller than the rest. We won the county tournament when I was in the eighth grade. I went to Fletcher School until I was in the tenth grade.”
Grace’s family moved from Sterling to Fletcher when she was in the fifth grade. She always sat in front of Paul Dee, and he was her protector at school. Then in the seventh grade they went together and according to Grace, Paul Dee was her “feller”.
“I left school because I had trouble with my brother-in-law. One time we both flew off the handle, and we had it out, so I left. A sixteen-year-old boy thinks he knows everything. I went and farmed for this guy named Harry Blot. He lived two miles north of Sterling. My pay for working all year was ten acres of cotton. I usually got three bales of cotton out of my ten acres. I got about $100.00 for a bail of cotton. “
“After I worked for a second farmer, I worked with my brothers at grinding feed and at meat markets. It was different back then. We had portables. We would get a call to butcher a cow and they would tell us which pasture to go to. We would take the trailer out there, we shot and dressed it right there. Then we hauled it back to the meat market for cooling and dressing. There was no EPA back then. Then for a time I followed the harvest to the Canadian line. The weather sent us home. Then when I married Grace I got a job building the Borden Hospital at Chickasha. The next job was four and a half months in Wichita, Kansas building apartment houses for the workers at Boeing plants [during World War II]. After that I just built houses around here.”
“When I left to go to work on the farm, I did not have contact with [Grace] for two or three years, and she married in that time.” She married Jake Williams and move to the Wichita Mountains. They had a son named Donald Dwayne and Grace was pregnant with Janis Lynn when Jake died of cancer. Grace then sold the ranch in the Wichitas and bought a small house in Fletcher for $450. She was living there when she started going together again.
“I lived about a block east of her. I lived in a smaller house than she did.” Don and Janis began to call Paul Dee “Daddy”, until he finally told Grace they should do something about that. So, they got married on October 16, 1940 in Chickasha. Hollis Dee was born in August 1942, and when Hollis was about five, Paul Dee injured his back and required surgery. When he got out of the hospital and was recovering well they moved to the Northeast corner of Fletcher in 1947. Patrick Douglas was born there in February 1949, and Paul Dee adopted Don and Janis when they were in high school.
“I was a builder all my life. I made 200 homes and I cannot even count the remodeling jobs. Now I build furniture. I did a lot of gardening. I had a fresh produce stand by the road. People would come pick their own, weigh it, and put the money in the little box. Sometimes people would call three days in advance to have me save them 300 ears of corn. One lady wanted some 500 ears of corn. I would sell it for twelve cents an ear. I would sell my garden stuff the same price as the grocery store and people liked it because it was fresh.”
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