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Rolen London

Rolen London (1919-1980)
+ Evelyn June Luper (born 1924)
Ron London
Don London
+ Virginia Lee Nixon (1924-1964)
Chris Lee London
+ Maxine Jewell Winkler (1925-2012)
+ Ada Lois

Rolen London
Recorded and transcribed by: (Dorothy) Lorene (London) Davidson
1996

Rolen was the second child of Emery and Julia (Jobe) London. He [was born 22 May 1919 and] was much like our mother, fun loving, ornery and industrious. I'm told he was somewhat like Grandfather Job (Mom's Dad). I never knew GrandDad. Rolen was his own man. I looked up to him; he always treated me as if I was very special. We were raised by parents that instilled a great sense of family. He loved his family very much.

[The 1930 US Federal Census for District 0133, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, enumerated 11 Apr 1930 by Grace Grenard, has a record of the household of Emry and Jewell London. Emry London was the head of household, male, white, age 39 years, first married at age 20, born abt 1891 in Oklahoma Territory, working as a carpenter in the building industry. Emry owned his home, had no radio in the home, and the home was not located on a farm. Jewell London was Emry's wife, female, white, age 36 years, married, first married at age 18, born abt 1894 in Texas. Roland London was Emry's son, male, white, ten years old, born abt 1920 in Oklahoma. Lawrence London, son, male, white, age eight years, born abt 1922 in Oklahoma. Arvola London was Em's daughter, female, white, age six years, born abt 1924 in Oklahoma. Thresa Johnson was Em's daughter, female, white, age sixteen years, married, born abt 1914 in Oklahoma. George Johnson, son-in-law, male, white, age 21 years, married, born about 1909 in Oklahoma, working as a carpenter in the building industry.]

We moved to a five acre tract between Wheatland and Mustang, Oklahoma, about 1937 or 1938. I was eight years old. Rolen was eighteen and working in the city with Dad. He and Lawrence both worked with Dad. They were learning the building business. Dad was a supervisor with G. A. Nichols who developed Nichols Hills in Oklahoma City. They built the huge old homes that are still standing. Rolen and Lawrence followed in Dad's footsteps. Rolen became a custom builder in Oklahoma City after World War II and Lawrence later moved to Texas.

Back to our life on the acreage. The boys and Dad worked in Oklahoma City every day and Mom took care of the kids and home. I remember the boys each had his own car - which was all important living out there. Rolen and Lawrence were so different - Lawrence, very quiet and reserved. Rolen, easy going and fun loving. I can remember him teasing Mom when she'd be upset with him. Their relationship was a special one. He had a great respect for her.

Another time, we came home from a visit to Aunt Lucy's in Texas. The boys stayed home to work. We drove up in the yard and Rolen was standing on the front porch with his shirt off - chest taped - he laughed and said that he had run his car up a telephone pole. Sure enough it had really happened. He wrecked his car and broken several ribs.

As I recall, Rolen met and married Evelyn Luper in 1939. When he brought her home the first time she was cute and lots of fun. I loved having a sister-in-law. She was 15 years old (not much older than I was). They were at our house that Christmas. I remember Rolen bought her lots of clothes and she was going to have their first child. We were all excited. Rolen and Evelyn lived in the city in an apartment. Evelyn was at our home when she went into labor. Ronald Ray was born - he was so very tiny! Mom said he was so little we were lucky he lived. Rolen was the proud Pop. About one and one-half years later they had Donald Gene - they were both cute little boys. They seemed a sweet little family.

[The 1940 US Federal Census for Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, has a record of the household of Roland and Evelyn London. Roland London was the head of household, male, white, age twenty years, married, born about 1920 in Oklahoma. Roland had worked 48 hours the week prior to the census and for 52 weeks in the prior year at his occupation of carpenter in the industry of house building. Evelyn London was Roland's wife, female, white, age 16 years, married, born about 1924 in Oklahoma. Ronald Ray London was Roland's son, male, white, two months old, born 1940 in Oklahoma. Inez Luper was Roland's mother-in-law, female, white, age 37 years, divorced, born about 1903 in Mississippi. Inez was a waitress at a restaurant and had worked for 52 weeks in the prior year at this occupation, but had not worked in the week prior to the census.]

On December 7, 1941, World War II started. What an upheaval in our lives! Both Rolen and Lawrence went into the service. Rolen went into the 8th Air Force and Lawrence the 45th Division. Before we knew it they were shipped overseas. Evelyn would bring the boys often and we loved having them. Dad was trying to get into defense work.

Sometime in there Evelyn left the kids with Mom and Dad. She just left. I can imagine how overwhelming it must have been for an eighteen or nineteen year old to be left with two babies. At any rate, Mom and Dad filed for custody of the boys. Later Mom said this was necessary for them to be able to receive allotment payments from Rolen for the boys care. They just became our little brothers.

After many family conferences with other families as well as ours, Dad and Mom along with Uncle Coin and others moved to California to do defense work. These years during the war I corresponded with Rolen in England. It was always fun to receive letters. He was in Ireland on leave one time and talked about his experiences as well as sending his picture in a kilt. He was such a handsome young man. Each time I heard from him his rank would be different. PFC to Sergeant, one time back to Private. It didn't seem important to him.

Sometime the later part of 1945, Rolen was discharged from the Air Force and returned to Oklahoma City. He returned to work with Dad and took responsibility for the boys. They lived with Mom and Dad or Arvola and Charles. Since they were ours, we all helped with their care.

Rolen met and married Virginia Nixon in 1964. The boys lived with Rolen and Virginia. They had Chris. [Chris Lee London was the son of Rolen and Virginia London and was born 23 Oct 1946.] It was a rocky time for them. Guess the responsibility of three little boys was tough for Virginia. At any rate, Rolen put the two older boys in the Villa Teresa Catholic School. It was a very painful time for him. Many times he came to my apartment upset. He felt a lot of guilt.

During these years Rolen started custom building homes in Oklahoma City. They bought a farm east of the city and their lives seemed better. His business was very good and the boys were growing up. Financially, they were doing very well, but the family seemed under tension all the time.

Ronnie and Donnie were in high school and worked summers with their Dad. He said many times, they had to get an education. In his own way his boys were his life. I felt he was a harsh disciplinarian, but I knew he loved them.

During the years on the farm, evidently Virginia was not happy there. Ronnie and Donnie were married. Chris was in high school and the state wanted their property for a highway. They sold out and moved to Oklahoma City. I don't think they had been in their home a year when tragedy struck again. In 1964, Virginia was at home when a fire started in the house. She was severely burned over 90% of her body. It was truly a nightmare. After three days she died.

Rolen began a pattern of self-destruction. He had always drank alcohol after his return from World War II but it became a real problem. He would tell me, "Oh, Sis, I'm okay." He continued to work every day and was asked to join a group of men building nursing homes. It seemed very profitable and he was earning stock in the company.

He traveled a lot, building in other states. Sometime during this time he met Maxine Jewell Winkler. They married about 1972 and soon after that the company went broke, consequently he lost everything he had worked for. He moved to Irving, Texas, and bought a mobile home. He had a massive heart attack. It was touch and go after that but he came out of it. After that he went back to work with his tools.

He and Maxine separated and divorced. Later, I learned that she had mistreated our Mother when she spent a few days with them. Rolen and Maxine divorced over this. Time passed and Rolen continued to slide. He went to live with Ronnie and Sue in Colorado and got sick there - I believe that it was his heart. Bob and I lived in Dallas at the time and were looking after his home. Anyway, he asked us to sell it. After a while he seemed better.

Sometime up there Rolen was asked to build a high rise building in Wichita Falls, Texas. I had not seen him so excited about anything in a long time. It was a challenge. Things looked great. The building was almost complete and the investors in New York pulled out and left it. I don't know all the details. Anyway, another trauma in his life! I must say Rolen was a man who did business on a hand shake and trusted people far too much. Through his years of prosperity he helped many men and their families. I know for a fact he would give you the shirt off his back. These guys just never paid him back.

The last few years Rolen lived in Shawnee, Oklahoma, with Donnie and Pat. He bought a travel trailer and parked it in their yard. Later, I believe he moved it to a trailer park. It was ironic that he would return to the town where he was born and the London roots are very strong. He had known the Higdon family that lived there. During visits with them he and Ada Lois renewed their friendship. She was a very positive force in his life. They decided to marry. It was so wonderful to see them together. Like two teenagers. Rolen stopped drinking and went to church. His life seemed to finally be turning around.

Ada Louis and Rolen were getting ready for a trip to Colorado to see Ronnie and his family. My understanding was he had the travel trailer serviced and went out one morning to check it. He lit the pilot light which caused an explosion. Rolen was burned and spent time in the hospital. We thought he was recovering. He and Ada Lois came to Dallas to see us and made their trip to Colorado. Rolen got into trouble. We all thought it was his heart, but Ada Lois got him home. They found an aneurism and operated. He never left the hospital alive. [Rolen died 18 Sep 1980 in Shawnee, Oklahoma.]



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