JOHN OWEN EVANS

 

JOHN OWEN EVANS

Pictures of John Owen Evans

	John Owen Evans, the sixth and last child of Bunyan and Delilah Evans, was born in a log house four miles south of Saline in Natchitoches Parish (in Sec. 15, T13N, R6W) on Saturday, 11 O'clock, Dec. 23, 1905. He weighed 10 lbs. At age 76 he said, word came to me that my mother looked up at my father at the time of my birth and said, Bunyan, this is it. The meaning could have been may things, but with that touch of Indian Blood in her I am sure she meant what she said and I was the last child she gave birth to. J.O. also remembered that the log home had no conveniences, not even a water well. My mother carried water from a near by spring for home use; she did the washing of clothing down at the spring, where they dried from the sun light on a wire tied from one tree to another.

	He also recalled: I, being the baby of the family, naturally received the most attention. I remember when we would go to the table to eat I would get first choice, in fact I especially remember that Mama would give me the cream off the milk before pouring the others their part. My father believed only in work and plenty of it; I remember hearing him say he never heard of any one killing themselves by working too much.

	When Owen was four years old his father had a a new house built at Harper's Spur, 2 miles south of Saline in Section 10. He remembered his father taking them there while they were building the house. When it was finished the family rode there in a wagon. I remember I got to sit in the spring seat between Mama and Papa. When we got there Papa said, 'There it is.' We were all thrilled, jumped from the wagon and began running to the new house. Papa had built a store building about 1/8th mile from the house on the railroad tract and had gone into a business with a partner named Glen Harper.

	When he was six Owen began attending the first grade at Saline School. We walked from Harper's Spur to Saline, two miles, until about 1919 when Papa bought us a one horse wagon which we made into a covered wagon and rode to school in. We tied the horse in front of the school building. All five of us finished High School in Saline High School. Otto was one of the first graduates of Saline High School. He was the oldest and I was the youngest. Mama packed our lunches in buckets until the last year of my school, when Nena Montgomery, my first cousin, asked me to eat lunch with her, which I did.
	
	His mother kept a purple ribbon pinned to one of his school papers from the 4th grade, where Miss Alma Baker was his teacher. She wrote at the bottom: Owen Evans, age 9 yrs won out in Saline fair, Oct 23, 1915. The paper, which he apparently wrote, was a story: In a field filled with grasshoppers lived a family of ants. All summer they were gathering grain for winters use. When winter came a grasshopper half dead was begging the ants for food. "Why didn't you gather your food during summer." "I spent my time singing." "If you are foolish enough to spend the summer singing you may go to bed hungry in the winter."

	His grades from the fourth grade with a Certificate of Promotion passing him to the fifth was signed by J.C. Burson, Principal, and Alma L. Baker, Teacher, on May 26, 1916:
D+ in Reading; B in Writing; B in Spelling; C+ in Arithmetic; C+ in Language; D- in Geography; 15 days absent, 18 days tardy; C in Behavior. Each of the 9 months grades are witnessed by his father, M.B. Evans.
	
	At age 12 Owen was sick with what the family believed to be Malaria. His mother took him to Arkansas for treatment. He would later write of this experience: My first experience of a miracle from God was in 1918 when mama carried me to the Arkansas Ozarks to stay with my Aunt Viola for the summer to cure the Malaria which I had and was having chills and fever regularly. We had Aunt Viola have one of her neighbors, about a mile from her, meet us at the train in a one horse buggy to carry us to her house in the mountains on a place she had homesteaded - there were no roads, just rocks and a trail. I fell out of the buggy one time and the wheel ran over me but that didn't hurt much. After staying with her a few days I got sick, my stomach swelled up like a pregnant woman. They sent five miles for a doctor who had to ride over the mountains in a trail on a horse. He stayed around a long time, had lots of medicines - told them there was no chance for me to live - gave me some red medicine that got hard if you did not drink it as soon as it was poured in water. I had no idea I was going to die. Mama sat on side of my old bed and prayed, I prayed too but dont know what I said. I knew for sure then I was not going to die. The doctor did not think there was any use for him to come back. In a few weeks I was able to travel and we got that neighbor...to bring us back to Sunset Arkansas to catch the train and we came home. I must have been re-born for when we had that annual revival that fall of 1918 I joined Magnolia Baptist Church, was baptized in Mill Creek with about 20 others, just below the old RR tracks in the swimming hole. He was baptisted on September 1, 1918.

	 His Sixth Grade grades, from D+ in Reading to B in Writing and A in spelling, averaged C- to B. In a 6th Grade Language examination, Miss Thornton, teacher, Owen, aged 12 included this story: Once there was a man who had two boys that dident ever go to Sunday School. One day their father decided to send them to school. On their way when they got behind what they called the Big Woods they saw some men firing guns. they did not know what to do. "I'm going back whipping or no whipping," said John, and they went on back home and told their father what they had seen. Their father got his gun and went behind the Big Woods and the men had already gone, and their father whipped them till they were blue. On the same exam he diagrams sentences.

	In the Seventh Grade he seems to have improved with averages from 89 in Arithmetic to 96 in Spelling. He received State Spelling Certificate beginning in Fifth Grade in 1917, and also in 1918, 1919, 1920, and 1922. In the Eighth Grade he made 100's in Conduct. In 9th Grade he made all G's. In both of these years he shows only 1 day absence and 12 times tardy.

	In a 10th Grade book report on Dec. 12, 1921, on GIRLS AND WOMEN, 
 he writes...Every girl should have an aim in life and stick to it...Girls should all learn to cook read and sew, although some women like to read too well. Cooking, sewing and housekeeping are essential for any woman, married or unmarried. It is nice for a girl to support herself, but she should not begin this too early. There are many ways for them to support themselves.... The causes of narrow life almost always lie in the character. In conclusion every woman should be truthful and loving, courageous and modest.

	In 1922, when he was a senior in high school, Owen was apparently having some type of physical problem which led his mother to again take him to Arkansas for treatment. In a letter of 6/27/22 his father writes to Dear Moma and Owen and Viola and Alvin...He gives the news from home and then Now Momer you knoe I want you at home but if you think by staying with Owen two weaks longer hee will bee over this spell and think wont have another spell and could bee satisfied to stay till Sept that would bee best on him. but if you think best to bring him home why that will bee best. I feel like whin he gets over this he will bee shed of his Molariel and if he could stay there till Sept maby he would get all right...so you use your best judgment. I knoe you are getting home sick and I expect Owen is two, you knoe this is getting to be a lonsome place...Expect you all had better come home as soon as can. Love from Poppa.

	While there Owen wrote to and received letters from a girl...Just the Same old Beadie, from Jarome Thomas, his brother Hansford, and Lucile. His father wrote again in August:... Owen you must hury and get on foot. maby your tonic will straiten you up...Say Momer Dont you worey about your work and intrest at home, for I think we are keeping things going very nicly. Of corse you knoe your presince are needed at home but dont wory. We are just having washing every 2 weaks..

	Owen graduated from Saline High School on May 25, 1923. His High School Diploma is signed by G.H. Middleton, Principal.

	That Fall he decided to go to the University of Arkansas. He would later recall: ...made all the arrangements, caught the train - was greeted at the railroad station in Fayetteville with a bunch of boys I had made arrangements to room with - this started out lots of fun - being the first night I had ever spent away from home...I became lonesome but soon overcame that... They all wanted me to go to college but I had business on my mind. I didn't want to be a teacher. I didn't like history and remembering all that stuff. I wanted to make some money. I thought I'd take some business courses. But when I got in there they told me you can't have any kind of business course as a freshman. So I said, 'Well, I'm not going here,' and I got up and walked out. I walked back to the house I was rooming at and met my roommate who had found out the same thing. We decided to take one more walk down town before we went home. Then we saw the Fayetteville Business College and went in to see about that. One of the salesmen got us and in about 30 minutes both of us had signed up.

	Receipts show $100 paid to Fayetteville Business College for a Life Scholarship in Bookkeeping, Acct'g and Typing, plus $8.00 for books.

	During the Fall he received many letters from his mother, father, brothers and sister. His friend Grady Loe writes him from Normal College in Natchitoches:...I am glad you are liking Ark. alright. I like down here very well now but I had the blues the first week so bad until I did not think I could stay, but I have found me a girl now and you see I'm better satisfied. Boy there is some bunch of women here, "all kinds." Then in another letter Grady writes later: ...Boy I have the sweetest girl in the world. How are the "women" serving you? You had better watch your step. They are still "keen" down here... Also Hazel and Lucy B. McCarguodale write him from Normal College.

	His brother Sidney writes in November:...That is right boy, step out with the girls and have a good time but dont spent too much money on them, you know what I mean, just go to the shows with them and have a good old time. Listen Otto and myself have been trying to get a little SHINNEY so we could make a tody or a egg nog when you come home Xmas. Yes, we are planning on having a good time Xmas...

	On November 17, 1923, Owen wrote to Ottis....I think I made a pretty good deal by coming here. I got to where I had to take medicine all the time down home so I thought I would go where it was healthier.... I like my course fine and it is some healthy here too. I've gained 13 pounds already...It is only four weeks until Christmas, and I'm going home too. Where are you going to be then. I wish I could see you. Boy there's lots of keen women here. I got kindly home sick when I first came here, but have gotten over it all now....Now be a good boy and don't do anything that I wouldn't...Your Friend and Class mate, Owen

	Otto, his oldest brother, wrote him on 12/1:...Mama says we should all write you boys more often. She thinks you are just as big a baby as you were when you wore the safety pin....Have you been broke yet. I dont think you have. You never write a broke mans letter. You must have left with an unbreakable roll. I think Sid sent you a ten the other day...

	His high school friend, E.H. McKinney wrote on December 8: ...I suppose you could beat the H out of me for not answering...How many women do you know? Boy a couple of hot janes were in here last week. I dont mean maybe I vamped them, we had a dance one night and I sure strutted my stuff. I was trying the new dance with one of them....

	On December 17 Owen writes to his brother, Sidney:...We had a lot of fun last night, a couple of boys here got a transformer and some wires and connected them to the light socket and run them into another boys bed and when he got to sleep good they turned the electricity on and believe me he come out of there and came running in our room hollering fire jumping over the foot of his bed and saying that some body hit him. He was white as cotton. They told him that he must have been dreaming and he said he guess he was, but later on in the night they turned it on again but had to tell him about it this time....We are fixing up Mrs. Maulding a long broom handle for a Xmas present as she sleeps right under our room and is always knocking under the ceiling to quiet us down. We thought we would make it a little easier on her. I'll be home this evening or tomorrow. Owen

	After his Christmas vacation home by train, Owen returned to Fayetteville. On January 12 he typed a letter to his mother: ...Have gotten over my blue spell and have gained 4 lbs already...We got to raising a howl about not having hot water and every thing else and so they have arranged for us to get baths at the barber shop...I got one this morning. We have also gotten a new stove in our room...

	In early February his mother writes: ...You asked about entering university we want all of you to go through university but did not seem to me like any of you were going to want it so I'm glad you do, but it will be sucha short while after you get through Business C until time to enter university. and the very time I do not like you to come back here on account of malaria that if you can get a nice little job for that time best to stay on....Of course we could give you work, but long as Otto is here dont really need you...Sid stayed out tonight. guese he is with the girls. at a perty or into mischief. will write Hans. I most always write both at same time. Love from Mother

	Later in February she writes again:...you spoke of entering the university. Sure if you wish it you may enter. I think it good as you could do. And I think if you do it will be a good idea to put Ruth up there...I want Sid to go more to school and probably he would come up there too. It sure would be nice for us to move there and the whole push go thro university. we could run a store. and I know would make a living. and it is worth it all to be well. I take these ideas lots of times tho Dad only lets it all run through his head and go to the wind...
	
	Also in February he gets a leap year letter from L.B. Mc... at Normal College...so send me back without delay/your answer saying "Yea" not "Nay"/With lots of love and kisses/ from one who hopes to be you "Mrs."...

	In March his father writes:...Helo Owen, I will take you on a surprise. Momer says I dont care anything for you all or I would write to you more but that isint so. you kno better than that. you knoe after she writes and tells you everything I havint any thing to write...Momer and Popper is sitting by the heater. Momer reading and Popper writing...you think you will like to stay up there and take the summer turm at the university. that will bee all right. if you want to stay do you think you could get a job to bear your espinces while you are out of school. if you can that will bee a help for you knoe how our money comes...Sid still holds his job that will help us out a good eal. I have got Otto under some better controle. he dont runabout so much. we are having more work to do that keeps him closte...

	In March Sidney writes that he has gotten Owen some letters of recommendation, apparently needed for entering the university. The first was from W.S. Montgomery, Postmaster: This is to certify that I have known Owen Evans for some ten or twelve years and believe him to be a gentleman in every respect....has no bad habits, and I can heartily recommend him as a boy of unusual natural ability.. Also another Letter of Recommendation from F.L. Mayfield, President of Bank of Saline: J. Owen Evans is now about 18 years old and we desire to inform those who may be interested, that we have known him all of his life...I take pleasure in stating that the bearer hereof has been all of his life, what we term a strict boy, attending church regularly, well thought of by all his play mates, besides he comes from high-toned, honorable worthy parents, and our opinion, will make a useful man and citizen, and in every way believe him worthy of trust and belief... 

	In March Owen writes home: ...The room mate left yesterday and I almost cried because Mrs. Mauldin is leaving soon and I got to thinking about it.it will be a long time before I get to leave yet... His mother writes back:...I believe you were a little homesick..but know it is all over now because you know it is so much better for you to stay on up there through summer than take chances of taking up malaria down here. I believe if we would get right in behind your dady he would move up there. dont you like the place well enough to live in. we could just either buy or build a residence and you boys get jobs...I do want that if it is possible...true I would want to rent for a while unntil I learned the location. when you finish up at school and before going to work, I'd run over to Sunset. it wont make you homesick much. remember you are a man now...

	Sidney writes him on April 4, 1924:...just recieved a letter from you and it seems that Mrs. Mauldin is leaving is she, well if her little Niece stays it will be all right want it. Say do you ever have much to do with the women these days, well I cought one Sunday a girl that come home with Hazel Hood for the week end, she ant so good looking but she do so fine she is not so good looking but from her neck on down oh boy, but I am not crazy yet I am not going to put out unless their is some results...Inclose find a check signed so you can fill out to suit yourself....I am good for $200 but keep that under you hat, see I dont want papa to know it... His mother writes on the 8th:...That little one page letter came last nite. I believe you are homesick. but you will be brave I know and push it off. for to come now you would pick Malaria right up and later in summer you can. if you get a job get someone to relieve you and come while fishing is good....

	In a May 8 letter Owen writes: ...I took another test in typewriting and have gained five words per minute...There is a girl sitting in front of me with a pink dress on. J.O. Evans

	Owen did come home after the spring term. During this year of schooling in Arkansas, he saved over 100 letters from his family and friends. He would later recall: I took Banking, Bookkeeping, and Typewriting. I finished with about 65 or 70 words in typing. (Note: the actual certificate is for 36 words per minute.) They had guaranteed us a job, and after we graduated they took me to this insurance company. I remember it was on the 2nd floor of a wooden building in downtown Fayetteville. We worked a day and they hadn't told us what we would make. So the next day I said I want to know how much money we will make. He said $70 a month. I didn't say anything, but that nite I got to figuring. We were paying about $22.50 for meals and laundry and board. I added up how much our clothes and everything would cost and I figured I wouldn't have enough left to go to the picture show. We wanted to go to the silent picture shows every nite. They would play the piano and we'd get down close, and boy, did we enjoy that. And that one thing was the reason I decided to quit.

	 On June 10, now back at home, he heard from Mittie in Fayetteville. On June 28 he received this letter to Saline from Mary Stephens, Coushatta, La.: Dearest Owen, This is just a note of apology for not telling you goodby in the right way....I suppose no girl should write a boy first but please excuse that. I know you will....Owen I spilled perfume on this letter... (The letter had a 2 cent stamp, plus 10 cent special delivery stamp). On July 3rd, Mary writes him again from Coushatta: ...There is no news except that I LOVE YOU LOTS... 

	Constance Coker, not yet a part of Owen's life, graduated from State Normal College on May 31 of this year with a life time certificate in Grammar Education.

	In August, 1924, J.O and Jerome Thomas went to a Military Training Camp in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. On July 25, 1924, Dr. W.B. Hailey had sent a certification of Vaccination against Small Pox for attendance at a Military Training Camp. While at the Citizen's Military Training Camp, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Owen heard from his mother: ...I sure have a spell of blues. it seems like all my efforts fail and I just stay here in this house all the time and see no one to talk to. I want to move worse than I ever did...

	His dad writes on August 18:...Say whats to mater with you boys think you cant stand that 30 days. now boys you all knoe it wouldint look good for you to sherk your duty and you couldnt come home with out the public noing it. If you were there for six mo. or a year we would try to get you out. if you are not satisfied, just make up you mind that its just a few days and I can put up with anything you only have 14 more days from today. While at camp he also gets a letter from Marie (the Arkansas girl) responding to his to her.

	The file contains a MILITARY TRAINING CERTIFICATE...Given at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas this 30th day of August...The above-maked candidate has completed the Basic Course..is recommended to continue in...Infantry Branch: Remarks: Certificate of qualification has been granted... (All above typed, but written in pen is "Not" between has "Not" been granted. Wonder if this was written in by Owen?
	
	He would later recall: Jerome Thomas and I found about that thing and we thought we were getting into a big deal. We talked Mama and them into putting up the $20. But when we got up there, you talk about rough; we weren't used to that. We both got homesick, but they only let you leave if your family requested it. So we got the money and called home and told them to write and say we were needed at home. Then we'd meet the mail man every morning, but they didn't even answer.

	That Fall Constance Coker began teaching school at Mt. Lebanon, La., where J.O.'s father had attended the university some 40 years previously. The university had since been moved to Pineville, becoming Louisiana College. The old university bell, however, had been kept by the High School there. Constance would later recall that she rang the bell for school to begin while she taught the 1, 2, and 3 grades in Mt. Lebanon. (The bell was later given to Dodd College in Shreveport and then to La. College in 1992.)

	In the meantime, Owen returned from Military Camp in Kansas. I came home to Harper's Spur, worked in the store with Papa some but got talked into going to school at Normal (Normal State College at Natchitoches). My family all wanted one of the family to get a college education and I was the last chance. A Sept. 15 Student Handbook; State Normal College, Natchitoches, lists Owen Evans; Grades: Education C; Lib. Sc., D;	Biology, D+; Chem., B... Fall, 1924 grades: Chem., B; Ed., C; Eng., C; Math, C. 
	On October 11, the Fayetteville Business College sent a transcript of J.O.'s grades to the University of Arkansas, also at Fayetteville, noting that he was presently a student in Normal State College. His grades were all in the 90's. Apparently J.O. was thinking of returning to the University.

	About this time he received a letter from Bertha Cauklin in Fayetteville:...I'm not going to ask you to write to me any more but what would you do if I would challenge you to? Do you remember the night we came home from Mettie's and I said I didn't have any faith in you, so you held me, held me till I said I did? Well, I've still got just that kind of faith...Hopeing that I might hear at least just a little speck from yhou I am Your Sincere Friend...

	Obviously he did not return to Arkansas at this time. For an English class at Normal, January 5, 1925, he wrote this story: My Trip Home...It was the twentieth of December and there was much joy in the hearts of 1200 school students. Our christmas holidays were to begin. About five hundred girls and five boys were waiting at the social room for cars to go home for Xmas vacation. Unfortunately I was one of the five lonely boys that were patiently waiting for a chance to get away from this seemingly underirable place.
	When the cars began to arrive the girls ran by the hundreds in a mad rush, the five lonely boys hardly escaping death. Finally the cars ceased to come and the hundred girls that were left showed much sorrow and many tears, but the five boys held their own. When the car that I was to get in arrived I gladly accepted a seat and a position as, "Ice cleaner," keeping the ice cut off of the windshield with a screw-driver. As I rode into the distance I glanced back and saw the four lonely boys still waiting and I suppose they are until now.
		
	On Feb. 14 he heard from Marie Woodruff in Fayetteville:...Love till Statue of Liberty has twins...P.S. That sure was a cute humdinger of a Valentine. I'll treasure that... Another letter from Franklinton, La. on the 27th:...My dearest Owen I am at home and every minute I think of you and I love you more each day and night, Eternally Yours, MER...P.S. I still love you and remember the day.

	His report on March 9, 1925: Not present at Mid-term exams; 2 weeks absence. 
	
	E.M. writes: My dear Owen, You don't know how sorry I am not to be able to come to take my second lesson in "Love Making" but its impossible. I have to write lesson plans...What must I do to prove that I'm not as bashful as you think? You must remember that we are still at Normal, but wait until we get away before drawing your final conclusions. This is signed E.M. but the last line continues: Just to tell you I still Love U, signed M.E.

	On May 3, 1925, Constance Coker of Bryceland signed a contract for 9 months as an assistant teacher at Saline High School at $65 per month. She signed her acceptance in Cotulla, Texas.

	Owens grades for the Spring quarter ending 6/1/25 were: English, B; Geography, D; Chemistry, C; Phy. Ed., D; Math, D; Biology, D.

	His recall of this 9 months schooling was: I made C's, but under old man Alexander in English I made B tripple plus. He said that was the best grade he ever gave a student, that 'I never gave a boy an A in my life.' I always did have ideas in my head about writing. It was for that story about Grady and I slipping out and going to town at night and meeting those KKK men who had killed a man and robbed a bank that I got the good grade. (Note: the actual grade on this paper is C++, not B+++; on the paper he has added: This is a true story. The other party was Grady Loe. Date was 1925. There are several other original stories in the file of his school papers.)

	About this schooling he later recalled: I could think of nothing except business and making some money; the only thing I could see I was learning there was to be a school teacher, the least of my desires in life. Papa and I made a deal that I work with him in the store on half & half deal....

	Back home and working for his father, on June 26, Owen hears from Marie Woodruff in Fayetteville: ...Now why should I be surprised to hear from you? Didn't my letter call for an answer?...So you are a business man now making some pennies eh?...Don't work too hard and don't forget those pictures...Oodles of Love...

	In August, Owen, Sidney, and their father took a trip to South Carolina. On the 3rd he writes to his mother: We are at Neeces today, expecting to stay at Orangeburg tonight. We may come back by way of Florida. Anyway expect us back by Xmas. On the 7th he wrote: We left Leesville yesterday. will go as far as Jacksonville in Florida anyway. May go farther. Our speedometer registers 2282, are in Ga. now...S. O. & P.

	On August 27, 1925, J.O. wrote to the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO., about attending school there. He had a transcript sent to them from Normal and was notified on October 5 of his provisional acceptance for the Winter Quarter opening on January 4, 1926. This move, however, was not to be.

	In September, Constance Coker began teaching at Saline High School. About this Fall, J.O. would later recall: Sidney (his brother) and Homer Morgan were going with a couple of school teachers, Zula Pullin and JoHouck; another girl, Constance Coker from Bryceland, was rooming with them. Sidney talked me into having a date with her. We fell into it the first night, did not miss a night of dating for a week or so. This grew; I would stop at her room
at the school house, outside window, when I came to get the mail each day. I was very peculiar about my feelings about girls - I didn't want all of them, just one, but I wanted
that one to be mine and not a part for any body else to have. We conquered this with much discussion....

	Owen's first letter to Constance is postmarked Febuary 20, 1926: 8 16 1/2 A.M., Hello COKER: I bet you are not up at such early hour of the Anti-Meridian, although you did go to bed at an early date last P.M. I have been bothered every since the early hour that I retired last evening and too this is probably the cause of me getting such early start this day, for (as I presume you know) too much sleep makes one drowsy. Anyway forgetting all of this insignificant data on things of the past lets think of the present, but then I suppose that will be the improper thing to do for it is very improbable that the above named Coker be out of her place of rest and contment (t-ent-m) ((that was just to signify that I did know, but was just mistaken, or probably the fingers too warm)) at the above named place and time, but anyway lets consider the most important things first, therefore the present course shall be continued. I say Coker I had to stop and fill our some finanacial papers and that dog-gone telephone rang, it being a minor call too for it was just Chestnut callin S.B., the said S.B. having just arrived with the excuse that the unnecessary delay had been caused by technical conditions. As I was going to say COKER, in a previous clause of this composition Are you up yet? (I mean from your place of sleep, but the present time is different from the time now so is an impossibility....Station J.O.E. -P.M.C. signing off at exactly 8 59 3/8 A.M. after the night before.

	At about this same time Constance began her first letter to Owen on Feb 20, 1926: Saturday morning, Dearest Owen, Well, true to my promise here goes. There is one thing that I can't stand and that is for one's word not to be carried out when they promise to do or say something. You had better carry out yours too. I got up at eight o'clock. It is now twenty minutes until nine. Bet you are hard at work now. I soon will be. I haven't got lonesome a bit yet but who could be lonesome with you around? You are the ---------- . Honest. Well, I must stop now. I bet your note want be all long as this. Lovingly, Constance.

	Many other letters soon followed. In one undated to Owen (at home) Friday...My Sweetheart. Wonder how you are feeling now. Hope you are getting along alright. Just learned that you were sick...wondered why you did not come but I knew you had a good excuse. Sweetheart I wish I could come to see you. but- you know. Hope you are able to be up tomorrow night. I was all set for a long talk tonight but we will soon if you get all right. Saw you pass by at noon and you did not even say "howdye." Now be sweet (in other words natural) and take your medicine so you can get up cause I am anxious to see you....I love you most, Coker....Another letter, hand delivered by Sidney:...Be sure and come up tomorrow at noon...Well, good bye, I love you most, Your Coker....P.S Please destroy.

	At School Wednesday, Dearest Owen, How are you this morning? I feel fine not sleepy a bit are you? Feel kinda blue tho. Kinda feel as if you wont be up tonight. Hope so cause...well just cause.. After we did get to talking last night I wanted to talk to you...Didn't I leave my vanity in your pocket? If so please make Sidney bring it in the morning - if you don't bring it tonight....excuse mistakes but the pupils keep coming up here bothering me...Lots of love.

	Another from school: ...I know we are going to be happier than anyone else could be. And, too, I'll have a long vacation. You know what you are going to do? Ha! I kinda like Sidney's suggestion....I had better stop as my pupils are about thru writing. I love you most, Always yours, Coker. Not be sure to tear this up cause you might lose it.

	Apparently Coker was in fact tearing up his letters. The next available is dated April 8:  My Dearest Coker....I still have that CAT feeling and know from reason that it will be in a much more advanced stage during the next two days and three nights....The above mentioned cat feeling will cause many strange things to take place sometimes though...Again referring to the cat feeling would like to say that I do trust that such does appear on you just a little occassionally as I am in such hopes that it does, although I do not wish you any harm, if that would cause any but since I have same so often I would be so please to know that you are a little bit inclined that way anyway. Coker please don't take any of the above in such way as would bring dissatisfaction to you as I am only saying it because I love you so much, Think of everything that will cause you to be the same, and remember that it is true, Owen.

	Then the next day to Miss Constance Coker at St. Joseph, La. in the following form:
Dearest Coker I am writing this with
that same thought in mind
that I had while writing 
that of the 8th inst. Trust
that you remember the thing
that I have reference to. Will say
that I am not feeling the way
that I sometimes do. The line
that I refer to this time is
that of sleep. While as to 
that other line, the one
that I spoke of so much in
that previous letter, must say
that as to this kind of feeling
that I so often have gives me
that kind of contentment
that is seemingly of a nature
that cannot be endured but
that constantly reminds me 
that I cannot do a thing
that would prevent such, but
that it is caused by things
that make me want only
that thing. What do you think about
that? (I slept nine hours last night)
	Coker I am writing this hoping that you will get it on Saturday and if you do not dont say anything about it. I wonder if you remember what I said I thought you ought to remember to think of thinking about things that I thought probably I would think about asking you and I thought and still think that you ought to think about these things enough that you could think of them without having to think much when I decide that I want you to express your thoughts together with what you really believe about these things that you had been thinking about....I still love you lots. Owen E.

	Constance entered Summer Scool at Louisiana Tech. On May 29th Owen writes to her at Ruston, c/o L.P.I.: Somehow (probably a presentment) I do not feel exactly right by writing you at Ruston for something seems to tell me that I am going to see you tomorrow not quite so far away. The part right across from my hands feels and sounds just like an empty water hose sounds when it is being filled with water. Papa has gone to dinner and for one time this morning I am not busy. (Busy as a cat too. I hope that you are not disgusted by now and decided different....Say Coker, now I did write you a letter and not for no cause, (two negatives) either, but something seems to tell me my hands are needed to carry something that is needed somewhere else, so don't forget me and my address. Owen E.

	Constance writes from Tech in Ruston on June 1: ....Jo asked who I was writing to and I told her "The Sweetest Fellow in the World" and I mean every word of it. I've been blue too but I can control my feelings. Jo said that she wished she was like me in that respect...I love you only. P.S. Owen be careful about what you do with my letters. How about burning them? Now please be careful...

	Obviously he did not follow her wishes because both kept their letters, written almost every day during this month. On the 16th he wrote: There is just one thing in this world that could keep me from feeling like I am and have been today, that is Coker....I feel so weak and nervous...I bet if I was with somebody sweet and we were in ARKANSAS I would be feeling better (no I don't bet it either for I know it and that would not be fair to bet on something you already knew)...I don't see why I have to feel like this. I would not think life worth living if it had to be like this all of the time, only when I think about the future makes me feel different, and I wouldn't feel different then if I didn't believe what I do....

	Constance writes back: ...If Arkansas will make you feel better then you will go some day with the one that loves you, provided you want too. Precious if thinking of the future will make you feel better - think of it...

	On June 25 he writes: ...I know you haven't been feeling any worse over this misunderstanding than I have, for that would be impossible...give cause for disagreeable feelings so such great extent as the writer has never experienced before and which it would be his pleasure never to experience again...

(The June file contains over 40 letters between them)

	Then on July 1: Hello Sweetheart...I wish I could see you. Dog-gone it wont be but a week from tonight until I will if my plans dont fail to work. Coker, why didn't I hear from you? It seem like the more I write the less I hear from you...Lots of love to you only, Owen. Then again on the 2nd:...Coker, Darling...Dog-gone, I enjoyed your sweet little letter today, and too this time proposition, the nearness of the approaching Thursday night (the time I can hardly wait for) makes me feel such way that it is so far ahead of the feeling I used to have when Christmas was getting near that if the comparison between the two were racing automobiles the chauffeur of the latter would readily see the uselessnes of continuation.. Probably from past experiences you can imagine the feeling you used to have when Christmas was drawing near. Well that can be no comparison to my feeling in this case. Sweetheart I only wish it was tonight instead of day after the day after the next day after the next day after the day after Sunday, that being only day after tomorrow. Darling I know I will be feeling bad at the beginning of the week after the week-end after this one. Dog-gone I wish it did not have to be that way. Sweetheart, how about us talking about this bird and other business just for a little. It seems that we are living in a hard community here around Harper's Spur. Since that bird got his nose shot off there has been other disturbances in existance. The said disturbances being the arrest of eleven other birds in a radius of a few miles from here, the said birds, either being in possession of a quantity of intoxicating liquer or having the operation of stills for the manufacture of intoxicating liquer, in their possession. In one case a still was found in the back yard being in full operation only a short distance from here. others were found located at various places in the houses and surrounding weeds. One particular case of interest was the finding of fifteen-hundred gallons in process of manufacture only a few miles distance from here....Sweetheart I must stop but you can plan on us being together some place or another on Friday and dog-gone I love you lots---and lots more all the time. Owen. He also writes again the next day in similar vein...

	And then again on Sunday July 3rd: ...My Darling Coker...I am just back from church. No it was not early mass. It was the Magnolia meeting at Saline at nine o'clock. Dog-gone I feel lonesome this morning, but even the thought of day after the day after tomorrow night makes me feel better. Sweetheart please don't feel like you said you did yesterday for it is not that way and I don't want you to be feeling some way that is not. Coker, as we were leaving there yesterday I just began to think and it seemed like our being together yesterday was so short until it seemed like a dream, (but a dog-gone sweet one) but by George I am living for that said coming time. Darling, I hope--you know what I hope--and I hope my hope don't be in vain either....I tried to write you a letter so I could mail it this morning but didn't have time so maybe you will get this one tomorrow. The preacher is going to eat with us today, but I can't help that. Sweetheart I must quit but remember what I said yesterday and I love you today still more, and, always will. Owen

	On July 5th Coker writes from Louisiana Tech: Doggone- I'm just back from mail call and didn't get a letter from you and I just knew I would hear from you. Don't believe you love me any more. Didn't hear from you yesterday either. O, my but I've had the blues today. I wish I was with someone sweet right not ...Owen why didn't I hear from you? I could cry very easily...Ding - I bet I'm not caught at another summer school like this one....Sweetheart I wish I was going to be with you tomorrow. Remember last Sunday? We will have to stay in tomorrow. This is a heck of a place to see anyone. If you all should come you would get to sit with us during the show and walk back with us. you stand in front of the show and wait until we file in. C? We can't go to the show only on Friday and Saturday nights. I write to you whether I hear from you or not and you dont to me - Why? Darling, please write to me often and love me lots. Coker. She writes again on Sunday: My Sweetheart, Wonder where you are now? And if you all had any trouble getting home. I've worked tonight on "our" home and my exhibit...Your two letters were here and darling I love you more cause you are so sweet about writing. I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed being with you today. I just know there is not anyone as sweet as you are and I know there is not anyone I could love as much as I do you.

	On Thursday the 6th Coker writes again ....I love you just worlds and would just nearly die if I didn't hear from you. Precious I'll never decide that I don't love you - cause I do - and a doggone lot at that....Hope to be with you two weeks from tonight. If such happens I'll be with the sweetest man in the whole world and one that I love -Oh I couldn't tell you how much...Darling please write often to - Your Coker P.S. Got stuck 30 demerits for cutting chapel but got them taken off. Then again on Saturday morning:...I dreamed last night that I was in Saline and it was my last day there and I had waited over to be with you and you had a date with another girl. My but you can't imagine just how badly I did feel. Then I woke up still feeling just as badly when I discovered I was at home with probably no prospects of seeing you for about ten weeks. Darling, I surely do love you - more and more

	July 12, 1926: Coker Darling...Dog-gone but I feel bad now and sweetheart you cant imagine how I felt last night when I left you standing on those door-steps and all that 27 miles home by myself. Dog-gone I hated to leave you and I have not yet fully concluded that...Coker if you feel as bad as I do Now I feel sorry for you. Anybody that feels like I do and have not got any prospects of feeling better could not deny the fact that they would be better off elsewhere...Sweetheart I wish you knew how much I love you...I must be sick, I could not work but very little today. Darling I could just keep writing you but I am sick and must stop so please don't forget me and remember that I could never love anybody like I love you. Yours Owen.

	Monday morning letter to Constance: My Coker, This is just a 'before church' note and not a letter so understand it accordingly. To the present time indications show not much possibility for tonight- Don't look for me but remember that it is not because I don't want to be with you and don't forget to understand the 'before church' note caused by existing conditions which I also hope you understand. I must go to church Love Owen.

(These letters continue in this same vein almost daily throughout July)

	On July 28 Owen went to Raymond, Mississippi to One of the Most Famous Health Resorts in the World, according to the stationary from Cooper's Well Hotel, where he wrote to Coker at St. Joseph, La.:...This H2O is making me feel fine but can feel OK only when I am with you. Yours with lots of love hoping for about next Sunday to hurry and come... His bill on 7/31 was $32.35, including 5 1/2 days in the Hotel for $3.50 per day.

	On August 9th Constance writes from Bellevue, St.Joseph, La: Sweetheart...Guess what I dreamed last night - That you and I got married on either June or July 14th. Don't remember the year. Mamma and Papa were married on July 14th. Isn't it queer that I should dream that date when I had not thot of that in ages?

	In his next day's letter Owen tells: I have been informed in the near past that a carelessly misplaced ticket from the Cooper's Well Hotel shows only 5 1/2 days board being paid, thereby leaving the several other days absence being unaccounted for. But with little explanation, the fact that a much better vacation had been spent by disposing of said time in such a way was easily understood and the question was discarded. (Apparently Owen had left Raymond to visit Constance before coming home.)

	Constance writes on August 13: Sweetheart,...Darling have you tho't of me this afternoon. I have of you very much. Wish I was with you. I've been so lonesome. Darling 	you can't imagine how much I love you....Precious you don't know how much I appreciate your letters....Sweetheart I understand about the trip to the burning well. I want you to have a good time just so you don't forget me. That is the important part to me. I would care if I did not have the utmost of confidence in you, but I couldn't love you if I didn't. Darling don't ever disappoint me. I don't think you will. I'd trust you anywhere or any time and sincerely hope you will me....Darling, I'll always play fair with you..but let me explain the date to you...Darling, you know that I didn't especially care for the date but the man was so 	nice...Well five weeks from tonight I may be with you. Couldn't anything please me better if it would be tonight...Are you going to get to come over? Hope so cause I'm crazy to see you and talk to you for a long time. Dreamed last night that we got married almost. Had the preacher and all but we decided to wait awhile...Well remember I'll be loving you always, Coker.

	In his August 23 letter Owen includes this poem: FLAPPERS by J.O. Evans...The Gum-chewing Girl/And the Cud-chewing Cow/Are somewhat alike--/But different somehow....What difference?/Oh, yes; I see it now,/It's the thoughtful Look/On the Face of the Cow.	
	 J.O. to Constance at Saint Joseph, La. on September 3:...My Dearest Coker, I am feeling lots better now after reading your letter...Had to stop and wait on a Coleman kid,
said he was gong to start to school and his teacher was Miss Coker. Guess you'll know him soon enough. I know one thing he's going to have a sweet old school teacher and one that I
love a dog gone lot. Wish I could start to school again and be in the first grade. Dog gone wouldn't I be happy. Another good thing about it too would be that first lesson. I would be ahead of everybody else and would have a good start. Then too about that time I would consider my education complete for that would be all I would care to learn and I'd already know that. So it would seem useless. Maybe we can manage to study and practice that old lesson over anyway, even if we do know it. Now that sounds like a like of bull, don't it- well	it's not, I love you and I just as well admit it. Do you love me? If you do that sounds like a bargain to me. I couldn't love any body else like I do you....I love you and you know it. Owen...Saturday, I still love you this morning, only a little more (and be dog gone sure and don't glance over it to fast to see the more. Owen.

(The file contains about 40 letters between them during August and the time school started in September, almost all of them containing complaints about not hearing from you.)
	
	A January, 1927, letter to Coker indicates that J.O. is still working at M.B.'s store and missing Coker. The first record of his venturing into the oil business is a lease of 40 acres in Section 12 from Zack Stenvenson on April 7, 1927, for $40.

	Puzzlingly, there is a poem/letter in the file from Constance on stationary with this heading: MISS CONSTANCE COKER, State Normal College, Natchitoches, Louisiana, dated only Friday Night: My dearest: Your house is much too large for you, but just the size for two. Suppose you fix it up real cute and I'll keep house for you. You've been alone, too long, my dear. I know you lonesome are. Lets take a wedding trip this year aboard a pullman car. A pretty good fellow I know you are, perhaps you are my fate. I'm sending these lines to you, to see if you'll be my mate. If I should take your hand in mine, altho I'm rather slow, and ask you if you'd marry me, Would you say "yes" or "no?" They say true hearts can beat as one. Can yours keep time with mine? If so, we'll take a wedding trip in a very, very short time. Your girl is loving some other man and lonesome you must be. To make you happy now, you need a girl to love like me. Tis dangerous to go down life's stream alone, this kind of weather. So let me slip my hand in yours and lets go down together - Sincerely, Constance. P.S. By the way, I guess you wonder where I got your address - from a girl from Bryceland. I think that she use to teach there. Perhaps you can remember her. She is a cute little girl.

	Was this written to Owen on old stationery? Or was it written two years previously when Constance was a student at Normal? Or was it just a college prank? But why was the letter kept in their letters if not to Owen?

	Whatever the answer,on June 12, 1927, John Owen Evans and Constance Waye Coker were married in Ruston, La., by Rev. Borum. When interviewed in 1972, Owen noted that he was flat broke when he married and had to borrow money from his brother to buy a marriage license and to pay for a honeymoon to Niagra Falls, N.Y. In 1982, at age 76, he wrote: We talked to our parents about it but did not give them much choice about the decision. We borrowed Otto's car, some money from Sidney, drove to Ruston, hunted up a preacher whose name was Winston Borum. He lived next to the mayor of Ruston and invited them over for the ceremony to serve as witnesses. We spent the first night in a hotel joining the railroad, the best one in Ruston at that time. 

	We continued our honeymoon to Little Rock, where we bought a winding record player, a few records, one was 'Lucky Lindy,' a new one. We stopped in the wheat fields of Kansas and on to Niagra Falls. We came back to Cotulla, Texas where Coker's family operated a hotel and cafe. We came home through Alexandria and there bought our first furniture with some money Coker had saved from teaching school at $85 per month, a bed room suite and kitchen table. We lived with Mama and Papa at Harper's Spur for some months and then rented a couple of rooms from Mr. Lee Payton whose house was joining the Saline school building. We used a kerosene portable stove to cook on. After some time Mr. Eugene Rogers built us a house, rented to us for $15 per month.
	
	Reading this later, Constance corrected him with: "Honeymoon in Colorado," where in fact they had gone. J.O. wrote a card to his sister Ruth from Kansas, postmarked June 18, 1927:...Still looking for Pikes Peak. Stayed in Tulsa, Okla Thurs, Winfield, Kansas last night. Write us General Delivery, Colo. Springs. Enjoying everything fine. J.O.E. and Wife. The next day he writes his father:...will get to Colorado this evening...are still having a fine time. Everything is working fine...J.O.E. and Mrs. J.O.E. On July 2 he writes his mother from Raton, New Mexico:...Leaving here for Amarillo. May go by Cotulla. Have not heard from Saline since we left. Car is OK. Haven't as much as had a flat tire yet. Will be back this month. J.O.E. and Family. While in Colorado Mrs. J.O. Evans did get a letter from her mother. The first page is missing but in the rest of the letter no mention is made of their marriage except this sentence on page 3:...Well do you want me to ship your bed to Saline, and how many weeks will you be away? Am anxious to get a letter from you. had a letter from Aunt Alice. she told of the fib you told her...Irene wrote me immediately after you all left. said she sure missed you. think her eyes must have been running over...H.M. and Dady wrote you the day your card came with an address. mine is some what late. hoping to hear soon, lots of love Mother.

	Receipts show that they purchased furniture from Wolf Furniture Co. in Alexandria, La. on June 24, including: 5 pc bedroom sute, $89; 6 pc breakfast set, $42; 1 spring, $11.75; 1 rocker, $4.50; 1 rocker, $11.50; 4 B Oil stove and oven, $42.50; 1 card table ,$2.50; 1 9X 10 rug, $7.50; 1 9X12 Rug, $8.50; 1 6X9 rug, $4.50....Total $211.25, freight $10, $221.25. 

	That Fall Constance began teaching again at Saline High School and Owen continued working with his father in the family store at Harper's Spur. During this year Owen apparently explored various business ventures. In a January, 1928, letter from J.O. on M.B. Evans stationary Dealer in General Merchandise, Country Produce a Speciality, Cotton buyer; shipping point, Harper's Spur; he is requesting information on Texas Steel Co. stock. He also wrote about Shamrock Oil stock, Louisiana Motor Company stock, and Electric Fan Motors Co. stock. 

	During the summer of 1928, J.O. and Constance, Sidney, and Helen Marie, Constance's sister, went on a trip to New York and Canada. On June 17 Sidney wrote:...we are having a wonderful time. The car is doing fine. A cop stopped us once while we were driving at night, but we got off easy... Then from the Hotel McAlpin on 34th Street in N.Y.:..just back from a New York tour. This N.Y. Life is too much for me...expect to reach Toronto about the 23rd...This is a great place and it is all that you have heard it is.
J.O. wrote Otto on the 25th from Toronto....cold enough here for o'coats and blankets, beer and wine...Sidney wrote his mother:...The beer is good up here. We expect to continue to Detroit in few days... The trip lasted a month, from 6/8 to 7/8. Records show they drove about 4,800 miles, coming back by Cotulla, Texas, on the way home. (Note: I was puzzled about the fact that Sidney and Helen Marie were not married, in fact, Helen Marie had not yet finished High School--but this seemed acceptable to all concerned. In discussing the trip with Constance and Helen Marie in 1993, when they were 79 and 86 years old, they both said they "never even thought of that.")

	They returned for J.O. to work with his father and Constance to teach at Saline in the Fall. Store reconds for M.B. Evans store show that about 50 accounts were removed from records as uncollectable during this year. Handwriting is J.O.'s.

	In March of 1929 Constance wrote J.O.: My dearest Sugar,...I take this means of informing you that Mr. and Mrs. Louis King are going to play bridge at the home of Mr. nd Mrs. J.O. Evans tonight at about 7:15. Please be present and on time. I love you most. Coker. Bring some crackers.

	That summer Constance went to Cotulla, Texas to visit her family. On June 9th, J.O. wrote:...I been thinking about you all day...W.S.M. asked me about taking charge of the new cash store that is going in Haileys Drug Store but we going to have a better thing than that next year. Think Sid will have some stock in it and I will probably hire you if you will do good work. They are getting along fine on the house....Don't forget your baby. J.O. On June 10 he wrote: ...Coker hurry up and make school start cause I got to see you - the reason is business and business is I love you (till the cows come home), Yours, Owen

	 On July 7th he wrote:...Just to show you that I came pretty straight home last night I got up early enough this morning to get here at Harpers soon enough to find an old grey haired man of 71 sitting on the steps barefooted without hat, shirt, or underwear on who was in a rush and had only been here waiting an hour and had walked only four miles to get here, so you see he wanted to get here as bad or worse than I did. I slept with Sid last night and of course did not rest well...Sat morn. Stayed in again last night. Ha. Hope you are alright. I am not. Love ... In July, 1929, at age 23, J.O. had his tonsils removed at Highland Sanitarium in Shreveport. Total bill was $70.

	In August, 1929, J.O. was speculating on the New York Stock Exchange, buying cotton and wheat options. On the 27th, for $15 he purchased an option on 5,000 bushels of wheat. At Christmas Constance went back to Cotulla to visit her family. J.O. wrote on the 21 of December:...it just kept snowing...about 12 inches...I bog up nearly to my knees to get to the house from the garage. If you were here it would be perfect. Miss Carrie (Caroline Dorman) came to the house this morning & said if I would come to town and get her some film and let her use our kodak she would give me just anything she had or let me do just anything I wanted to to her. I came. waded around all evening with her up to my knees taking pictures. Sure did wish for my baby... (This camera is in my possession in 1993) Sure lonesome to have to go to bed by myself. Sidney is staying with me tonight. We decided to go into the oil business Jan 1, 1930...Sugar you be good...but dont forget to remember your baby loves you and is going to be with you the next Xmassssss!

	On the 23rd he writes to Dear Constance Coker Joe Ann Evans...Hope you are having a good time, I am not. Sugar you stay till you get ready to come back and don't worry about me. Just let me know when you will be back and where to meet you and at what time. I'll be there. Maybe I'll live till that time....Thank you so much for the present. Just what I needed in our oil business I want to tell you about. Did you buy us some more there? Do it and check on J.O. & S.B Evans Petroleum Co.... Also on Christmas eve he wrote, and then Day After Christmas Eve...I had to sleep by myself on Christmas eve night but Santa Claus got to see me just the same and brought me more than anybody I know of. Sugar he brought me some pretty stuff but I haven't let anybody see me with them on yet and will try not to until you get back...Yours for a loving time after December 30th. JOEvans wife's Husband.

	Back teaching in January, Constance got this poem from one of her pupils, Irene Singleton: Oh -I've got a teacher/She's good and she's sweet/She's got any preacher/A long way beat/And she knows so much/I never could tell/And I never smelled such/A sweet smelling smell/She looks like a fairy/She talks like books/Shes light and shes airy/And she beats all for looks/But there's just one thing/that I don't like a bit/I cant talk or sing/All I can do is sit/And I get tired of sitting/All the whole day through/I like lots of petting/So I'd rather be with you.

	In 1930 J.O. and his brother Sidney went into partnership and bought the old wooden store building and a small stock of groceries from Bill Stinson. We borrowed $600 from Mama to pay part of this. This whole side of the block of Saline burned soon thereafter and we got Mr. McClahan from Houma to contract the building of the brick store building plus the Enloe store joining us for $3500.

	Charge accounts must have mounted quickly. On March 22 J.O. and S.B. Evans filed judgments against the following defendants for unpaid accounts (apparently in their store): Richard Tobin; John O Friday; Eugan Tobin; Emery Smith; O.J. Smith; Levi Patterson; Coy Mathews; Robert Tobin; J.M. Walsh; J.H. Johnson; Allen Patterson, for a total of $2,307.72.

	On July 19, their first child, Joe Bruce Evans (ME!), was born at their home; delivered by Dr. Hailey, with J.O. present at the delivery. Constance had wanted to quit teaching school at mid year, being embarrassed about pregnancy, but when she went to the school superintendent to tell him so
he said: "No, you can't quit. I'm your superintendent and I'm your doctor, and I'm telling you you can't quit." So I had to keep teaching, Coker later recalled at age 81. But I was determined to look better, so I went to Arcadia to get me some new maternity clothes. I got a piece of black velvet which I had made into a suit for Bruce after he was born (this same suit was later passed to Janet Toms' boys). J.O. recalled: ...Coker kept teaching school and I worked with Papa until Bruce came alnog and she had to stop teaching --she taught until May 25th and Bruce came July 19, the same year we bought the old wooden store building...
 
	In October and December of that year J.O. continued his oil ventures, buying royalty from D.M. Henry, W.F. Crowley, W.J. Dobbs and others. Some of his purchases were in Commanche County, Oklahoma and in New Mexico. In January, 1931, he sold minerals to J.F. Mayes and Roy G. Barton in Clovis, New Mexico.
	Store purchases from Lee Dry Goods in Shreveport, La., in 1931: Mens hose 5 cents; coveralls and shirts 25 cents; Paris Garters 1.95..... Also from S.G. Dreyfus Company, Shreveport: ...8 doz mens shirts @ $5, $40... Groceries were purchased from Sims Wholesale in Arcadia, including 15 100# sacks of sugar @ $4.85. Hats were ordered from Kentucky. The bank balance of Evans Cash Store on July 31 in the Bank Of Saline was $677.63. Among records are these handwritten notes from that first year: Evans C. Store, please let bearor have 50 cts of mds. J.A. Readhimer; Mr. Evans, please let Tolbert Williams have 1 pr shoes, 3 cans snuff, sald & soap and oblige. W.K. Flynt; Evans Store, please let Mr. Bolemans have the following bill and I will settle the account next week J.A. Readhimer...

	This whole side of the block of Saline burned soon thereafter (1931) and we got Mr. McClahan from Houma to contract the building of the brick store building - The contract for building of our store plus the Enloe store joining us was $3500 (The contract reads for $1685...to be paid in cash...to be completed within 30 days, signed on 16th of November, 1931.)

	J.O. later recalled about the business: We later added the warehouse and sold everything, bought feed, flour, and fertilizer in carload lots and stored in this warehouse. This was all farming country then. Cotton was the Money crop for many years until melon farming came in. One year we bought 1500 bales of cotton through our store, at one time
for 5 cents per pound. Most of our customers came to town bout once per week, then in wagons. We opened about daylight, closed about 9 P.M. We had no electricity until 
1935 and had the only telephone in town in the store. Had to go to store at night about half of the time to telephone...

	Constance took her son, then a year and a half old, to again visit her family in Texas during Christmas, 1931. In 1932 J.O. was elected and sworn in as Mayor of Saline. On July 19, 1933, he bought a new Chevrolet for $699. That year he participated in drilling the Evans Bros #1 Oil Well in Sabine Parish. In 1934 H.D. Easton informed him about the Sabine Uplift, furthering his oil interests. He was also ordained as a deacon in Magnolia Baptist Church where he had been a member for 15 years.

	Their second child, Barbara Annette, was born on April 28, 1934, also at home in Saline. The house had no electricity or indoor bathroom. In 1935, a new home was built 1 block closer to their store, this time with electricity and indoor plumbing. Constance drew the plans. (Mrs. J.O. Evans is still living in this home 58 years later.) He wrote later:...In 1935 Sidney gave us a lot, a sand bed in an old field, where we built the house we now live in - now 46 years ago - we added to this house as the family grew...

	In 1936, J.O. was having physical problems and filed out a case history for a doctor at McCleary Sanitarium in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Dr. T.G. McCleary, Chief of Staff, wrote a 3 page, single-spaced typed letter back about his condition and recommending his clinic. References are to hemorrhoids that have enlarged until they protrude...bleeding with chronic constipation...for an individual only thirty years old, Mr. Evans, you have developed a number of complications which would be surprising were it not for the fact that you have had this rectal disorder as you said "all of my life."...our fees range from fifty to two hundred dollars. You should be able to judge about what your fee would because of your own knowledge of the extent of your condition. Four days later J.O. was in route to Missouri. Constance writes: Dearest Owen, Well, I suppose you are arriving at your destination now. How did you enjoy your trip? Bruce (then aged 5) cried for about 30 or 40 minutes. Wanted us to go back and get his dady off of that train. Had to take him back and get that gum that you wouldn't get him....Barbara waked up calling for her Dady but she soon got her kitty....Bruce said tell you that he had been good and had two flowers blooming and sister picked them...We surely do miss you but want you to stay and get well. I love you the most. Coker.

	On Thursday of that week she wrote:...The school board passed a rule to prohibit all married ladies that married after Jan 1, 1936 from teaching. Doris and Millard were very upset yesterday but are going on with the ceremony. They practised last night. Joe Bruce strutted down like might have been the groom...Barbara calls for her Dady every so often... On Friday she writes: ...Bruce and I went to hear the Range Riders last night. ...Barbara didn't sleep so well last night - ear still bothers her. Bruce is trying to be good so you will bring him something...Lovingly, Coker (includes clipping about the oil news). On Saturday she sends pictures of Bruce, Barbara, Bessie and Howard Morgan, another newspaper clipping about oil business, and writes:..am glad you let them operate since it was necessary..just hurry and get well.

	His mother writes on May 25th:...I was not surprised at the nature of your case, as I was afraid all along that it would require an opperation...I beg God to direct each one that might have the least part of the work to do...It could be possible that this is the worst trouble you have, and you will be so much better when you come home... On Monday Coker writes again:...How is my sugar this morning...The wedding (Doris and Millard Toms) was real pretty. Bruce missed it - was sick at his stomach. He surely hated to miss it, but was all right Sunday morn... (Constance's mother later said that the reason he was sick was that he had picked up a cigarette and smoked it) Then again on Friday Constance writes: ...Joe Bruce was tickled over his purse. But what about Barbara? We have spats every once in awhile and I tell him I'll just tell Dady the next time I write and he straightens up for awhile. You should hear Barbara (aged 1) trying to say Missoure - you would never guess what it is...stay till you get well, I love you too much, Coker. His preacher, J.W. Buckner, also writes...Well how is the Chairman of the Board of Deacons now...

	In childhood scrawl, Bobbie Gene Lewis writes:...Dear uncle Owen...My school will close tomorrow. I am hoping to pass...I saw Joe Bruce at sunbeams yestarday. he was good...from your littie boy... On the 29th of May his Dad writes:... I kno you are enjoying your self but could bee better satisfied at home...Coker said they wanted you to take another treatment but you hadint started it yet and didint kno wither you would or not as it would take 2 weaks. it mite bee best for you to take it. you use your best judgment...Dad.

	In other letters Coker writes:...Bruce said tell you he was a good boy but he was joking I think...Owen I just found out that the preacher bought a living room suit and rug, a bedroom suit, a dining room suit, a stove and a rug for the kitchen. I just wanted to tell you I am opposed to you buying him a refrigerator. I think we have done more for them than we are able to now...Now, I've expressed myself on that. I understand he is paying up everyone else... Owen's sister Ruth writes:...I will write you a long letter if you will be a nice little boy and do just what the nurse tells you...Love, your sis...Mama said tell you to stay there until you get well for every thing is all right down here...

	Coker again later:...Now it is Barbara's time to get something. You don't treat her fair. Am tempted to give her the pin. She says dady is gone to "Oouri" so sweetly... In another letter written in pencil:...Bruce said tell you he was a good boy. He liked the pencil, let me borrow it...

	In November, 1938, J.O. took his father to Hot Springs for a kidney operation. He wrote Coker:...Just received your letter...I'm not mad at you now...I know you would write me one every day if you knew how much good they did me. You ought not to get lonesome with te kids with you but I haven't got any kids with me....I am feeling lots better physically, think the baths are doing me lots of good. Took the 11th one today. Will take 9 more if we leave here Sunday week...we go to the shows some but Mr. Barron dont care much about them...We have found some pretty good magazines up here, bet you can imagine what kind...am taking medicine for my chronic colitis...Bruce are you and Barbara being good? Are you going to bed and going to sleep at night when Mama tells you to? I'm going to get her to write me if you are...One gum for Bruce and one for Barbara...

	Two years later on Bruce's birthday, July 19, 1940, Constance gave birth to twins, Janis Marie and Janet Constance. The bill from Hodge Clinic reads: July 13 to 15th and 18th to 26th: O.B. Room, $5.00; Anesthetic (Gas) $5.00; Room - 10 das @ $4.00 per Da, $40.00; Druge $1.50; Total $51.50... Dr. W.M. McBride's bill, dated July 26: June 7th and 25th - X-rays, $10; July 19th delivery, $25; total $35. J.O. paid the total bill of $86.50 on July 26th.
	
	In September, 1942, J.O. writes card from Hot Springs to Coker:...Papa is going to hospital tonight for operation to remove eye tomorrow. Everything is alright. I will come home Wednesday...Havent had time to have that fun yet. Looks like will have to leave it off. Hello Barbara and Bruce. Went to church last night and to Dr. yesterday morn. Come see me some time, Love Owen.

	Mr. and Mrs. Owen Evans were invited to a reception at the Governor's Mansion for Governor-elect Jimmie H. Davis, on May 9th, 1944. In 1955 J.O. had a stomach ulcer which grew four inches in one month. Dr Marvin Green was sure it was malignant and it was and everybody knew I was going to die but me - I knew I wasn't. Was back in the store working in a few weeks. He had about half of his stomach removed in this surgery. (In recalling this event in 1985 J.O. told a newspaper reporter about the time. She reported:...he underwent surgery from which he was not expected to recover. After surgery, while still under sedation and not able to speak to his family, but conscious to their reactions, he recalled that he wanted to let them know that he was going to be all right."That's when I knew it was a miracle. I was back in the store in two weeks," he said, to which Mrs. Evans in her sweet disposition siad, "Yes, but he didn't do much."

	In 1956 J.O. Evans was nominated, constituted and appointed Mayor of Saline by Governor Earl K. Long. In 1960 he received another certificate as Mayor signed by Governor Jimmie Davis. He returned to Excelsior Springs for treatments in February, 1961, writing: Made it here after a couple of Snow storms and 669 miles about dark. Didn't get caught. Fun starts tomorrow. We're used up right now...In 1967, J.O. received a certificate for successfully completing the Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations.

	During these years between 1930 and 1971, J.O. and Coker continued to operate their store in Saline, to rear their four children, and to invest and speculate in oil and gas, rental houses, and timber planting.

	On July 1, 1972, J.O. retired after 32 years as Mayor of Saline. The Shreveport Journal newspaper article noted: Officially, the slightly greying, bespectacled mayor, who looks younger than his 66 years, will step down as mayor of Saline on July 1, ending eight terms in office, during which he has divided his time between public affairs, operating a mercantile store and countless other business enterprises.Lines mark his forehead and the mayor shows some signs of weariness from the rigors of a busy life, but he scoffs at the suggestion that he should retire. 'I've had seven operations in my lifetime, the small-framed mayor quipped, but I don't know how to quit. When I meet an obstacle I can't quit, I just go back to get reinforcements....As for his wife, well, Evans beams with pride when he says, 'I'll have to give her credit for about 99 percent of what I have. She was a school teacher and had made more money than I had at the time we married. We've had problems during our 45 years of marriage but have always been able to solve them....The accompanying picture shows J.O. in his store pointing to a map....Mayor J. Owen Evans points to a map on the wall of his mercantile store showing the newly developed Saline Lake. Evans...believes this project has been the biggest achievement of the present administration.

	He was presented with a Diamond Award by the Louisiana Municipal Association for one of the longest tenures as a mayor in the history of the state. At this time he was also vice president of the Bank of Saline, a deacon in the church for 39 years, a member of the Mill Creek Game and Fish Preserve, treasurer of the church and a Mason.

	On November 1, 1981, J.O. sold his mercantile business after 51 years for $100,000. He moved his office home and continued to manage his oil, gas, and timber interests. 

	In January, 1982, he wrote an 8 page typewritten, single-spaced narrative of his life and philosophy, beginning:...I, John Owen Evans, on this day, being 76 years, 15 days and a few hours of age, do hereby write these few lines without any pre-meditated thinking of what I might say, do type the following few thoughts from a mind open for thoughts to appear as I proceed... Excerpts have been included previously. Others include: 

....things I have learned from personal experiences...which I am persuaded is the only or best way to really learn things of this life...

I believe in Miracles, in fact as far back as I can remember that was my thing. Nothing but miracles could have kept me going and placed me where I am now.

I had dreams, made decisions about business, land and oil holdings, without studying about them - they just came to me - I had no decision to make - it was already made. My decisions were already made before I knew it. No one will ever know but the material things that I now have and have had appear did not come of my own knowledge or thinking or figureing - the miracles in our family, family life and everything else the same....My mind is overloaded and I cant get things in proper line but they are most all there.

I still think one of the good sayings is that every tub sits on its own bottom.

It's a wonderful life if we follow the rules - Hell if we dont & I mean here and now - who knows about tomorrow? Forget yesterday, worry not about tomorrow. Live today by the rules that God made; therein find happiness.

When you stop feeding the birds they fly away to another field to eat and drink and play. God made it that way. Maybe we are trying to change it by tring to handle other people's lives, one way or another....I am now persuaded that maybe that rule about mama and papa bird feeding and taking care of their little ones - teaching them to fly and then saying get gone, should apply to us also.

Sometimes it appears all is vanity, even my theory about the tub and its bottom, I'm persuaded (sometimes) but for a fact some tubs have no bottom, others have rotten ones, not useable...rather sad to awaken one day to realize that what you thought was the right thing to do 40 years ago, now seems all vanity...now I'm persuaded to believe that God gave the birds the talent he was trying to give me, raise them up, feed them, take care of them until that certain time when they become of their own, teach them to fly, then say Bye Bye blackbird - get gone -that's about what they do anyway and here we sit trying trying and worrying...

Later, in April, 1982, he wrote:...We have just experienced a very severe weather depression resulting in much loss of life, millions in property damages, many people homeless, disturbed, etc...I am now experiencing a severe depression of mind, which unless controlled will also cause much dis-ruption...it is hard to not react to it - but I know I must not take the kind of actions my inner impulses tell me to do - one goes through life doing what he thinks is right...only to come to such times as this to feel this too much folley - at this time in life that feeling is that through all of this giving my biggest worries are apparently the results of trying to help others...worries, worries, worries, where did we go wrong? Maybe this philosophy of life - after 55 years did not work...

...that other half of the brain that has been dormant all of these years will some day have to become active - God only knows what changes these things will bring about, but that dormant part of my brain that partially comes to life occasionally is trying to say something - it acts only by faith in God as well as faith in one's self - all these things of the future are stored away in that dormant part of our brains...

	All of the above was typed. On the back of the last page, written with pen is this:...God gave us all the ability to avail ourselves of miracles but they come of our own thinking. It is His will that we all be happy...God has control. He is the greatest. Make your choice then sleep on the bed you made - at 76 2/3 I know. J.O. Evans. On the back of these folded pages, not even shared with Constance at the time, he signed: J.O. Evans...Just Thinking...(Try it sometime)

	A year later he added another page, telling about his grand father, his father, and then himself. He ended it with: On this June 12th, 1983, our 56th Wedding Anniversary, only with help of God, we boast 4 children, 12 Grand-Children and two Great-Grand-children.

	In July, 1885, J.O. was chosen to be Grand Marshall of the Saline Watermelon Festival Parade. In an interview for the newspaper he said this about himself: "We came up the hard way, and when we were married, we set goals we wanted to achieve for ourselves--we had determination. I don't accept defeat! I've been said to be the "bullheadedest" fellow. I wouldn't give up. If I set in to dig a hole in that yard, I'll dig one." Along with his determination and self-motivation, comes his trust in God. "You can't do it by yourself," he said. "And you have to learn not to worry; if you let things worry you, you won't get very far."....Mr. Evans very affectionately gives credit to his wife for most of his success in life.

	After a short illness at the end of 1985, during which he was first hospitalized in Shreveport and then moved to Barbara's home, J.O. died on February 16, 1986. His obituary read: EVANS, JOHN OWEN "J.O." Died Sunday, Feb. 16, 1986. He was 80, a lifelong resident of Saline. He was a former mayor of Saline 32 years, and owned and managed a business in Saline more than 50 years before he retired. He was a director of Saline Bank and a trustee for Caroline Dorman Preservation. Religious services were at Magnolia Baptist Church, Saline, Feb. 17, and were conducted by the Rev. Buford Skelton, the Rev. Malcolm Self and the Rev. Gary Palmer. Burial was in Magnolic Cemetary.... The death certificate, signed by George M. McCormick II, listed cause of death as Cardiorespiratory failure due to Acute and chronic renal failure as a consequence of Renal cell carcinoma. Other significant conditions: Adenocarcinoma of the prostate, ASCVD.

	The Board of Directors of Fellowship Church reflected the following week: Fellowship church has lost a true friend and long-time supporter. J.O. Evans has quietly but effectively made it possible for us to survive as a church family and to enjoy much of what we experience today...the most obvious contributions are the outward gifts made directly to the church over the years in the form of financial or real property donated for use in our programs. Less obvious are the other ways he has supported us with his sincere interest, his prayerful concern and his hopes for our future.

	One church member wrote of J.O.: I felt like I was in the presence of an excited child who loved to trade for marbles, toads and pieces of string. A person who, with sparkling eyes, loved even more to look at them, reminiscing and dreaming about them with anyone else who was interested. J.O. Evans was a quiet man who loved...his family, his home, his neighbors. He was also a pragmatist--someone who recognized the world pretty much the way it really is but also enough of an optimist to seek the best in the people and situations he touched. We will miss you and your word pictures, J.O. 

	The newsletter editor reported: Bruce Evans prepared a Sunday sermon about pursuing the good life beyond just good. At 4:30 a.m. Sunday, his father, J.O. Evans died. Sunday's sermon was to be on putting our insights about the good life into practice. In the midst of death Bruce shared with us the experience of loss and personal pain and love and dying--and doing so fully. Janet shared with us her memories of J.O. and played for us the song he best loved for her to play in his church in Saline, "When they Ring Those Golden Bells." Thank you Bruce and Janet for sharing with us this memorial for your dad and our friend.

	The Board of Directors of the Bank of Saline passed this resolution: IN MEMORIAM to JOHN OWEN EVANS: WHEREAS, John Owen Evans departed this life on February 16, 1986 at the age of 80 years; and, WHEREAS, John Owen Evans served the Bank of Saline for over 50 years as a capable and dedicated leader in several positions, including Vice-President, Chairman of the Board of Directors, member of the Loan Committee, member of the Audit Committee, and always as one who contributed constantly to the strength, growth, and service of the institution; and: WHEREAS, John Owen Evans was also a major contributor to the general progress, prosperity, and welfare of his community, parish, and general area over a lifetime of service, including Mayor of Saline for 32 years, owner and operator of a local business for 50 years, Deacon of the Magnolia Baptist Church for 53 years, member of the Masonic Lodge, member of the Mill Creek Lake Commission, and Trustee of the Caroline Dorman Nature Preserve; and, WHEREAS, John Owen Evans was known as a kind and loving husband and father, and as a constant friend and helper to his fellow man, who, with a twinkly in his eye and a countenance that reflected inner peace, brought joy and assurance day by day to all that he touched, a true optimist who brought out the best in all of us; and, WHEREAS, we wish to recognize and be in accord with the perfect will of God, we therefore submit to the loss of this friend and official of the Bank of Saline; and, NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors that as evidence of our lasting respect and cherished memory of this good friend and respected official, we hereby extend our deep and abiding sympathy to the family of John Owen Evans; and, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be spread upon the official minutes and that upon adjournment of this date, March 12, 1986, we adjourn out of respect to the memory of John Owen Evans; and, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that appropriate copies of this resolution be forwarded to the members of the family of John Owen Evans and this Resolution in Memoriam was adopted unanimously this 12th day of March, 1986 by the Board of Directors of the BANK OF SALINE.

	Found folded in his wallet, this handwritten statement perhaps best reflects the philosophy of J.O.: Happiness sought by many and found by few, therefore is a matter entirely within ourselves. Our environment and the everyday happenings of life have absolutely no affect on our happiness except as we permit mental images of the outside to enter our consciousness. Happiness is wholly independent of position, wealth, or material possessions. It is a state of mind which we ourselves have the power to control - and that control lies within our thinking...John_Owen_Evans_Pictures.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0