So last week I posted about Venita Randall, a woman found in the Ponca City, Oklahoma, city directory living with my great-grandfather, Merlen Paris Mertena. I couldn't figure out who this mystery woman was. She was listed as his wife, yet he was still married to my great-grandmother, Hassie Cora Proffitt, at the time. And my great-grandmother was nowhere to be listed in the city directory. The year was 1952, which is the year they moved to Louisiana and the year my grandmother was 17 years old. Lucky for me, Grandma is still living. She is the last one of my grandparents living, so I've realized how important it is to get as much information out of her as possible.
And, double lucky for me, Grandma did have an answer for me. This is one of those perfect examples where the ONLY source of this information is a living, breathing person. The information she gave me would likely not have been stated directly in any original source document. One of my theories was that Venita Randall was a roomer in either my great-grandparents' home or possibly in a house that they rented to her. She appeared to be a single, divorced woman from looking at previous city directories, in which she was listed as Mrs. Venita Collins. Another theory was that there was just some sort of mistake. Maybe since they moved in 1952, she had moved into their home after they moved out. Only problem was that he was listed with her at a new address in 1952; not the address from the previous city directories. Still, maybe they had moved within Ponca City sometime between 1948 (the previous directory available online at Ancestry.com) and 1952 and then moved to Louisiana. Or, perhaps, she was Merlen's girlfriend (gasp).
So, you probably want to know what Grandma said, right? Well, I'll take away the suspense. The last theory was correct. Grandma said that her dad did have a girlfriend, who, of course, was a fluzy. She said that she was heavy-set and wore her hair in a pompadour. And this said girlfriend worked at the same drug store as her older brother. Guess where Venita Randall worked, according to the 1948 and 1952 city directories? Yep, you guessed it, Crown Drug. She felt bad that her brother had to work with the woman and see their dad come into the store and talk to his girlfriend. Grandma said that one time she was in the store shopping and overheard her dad talking to the woman at the counter. Her dad did not see her in the store. When her dad left, she heard the woman say to her female co-workers that he was her boyfriend and she was bragging about the jewelry he had bought her. When her mother found out that he had also bought his girlfriend the same set of China as her, she broke all of her China out on the sidewalk in front of their house. Grandma said that he even took the girlfriend on a trip out west because her mother refused to go. She did not think they had enough money to travel out west. She said the move to Louisiana in 1952 was supposed to be a fresh start for Merlen and Hassie. I guess it was in a sense, but Grandma said that her parents were ill-suited for one another, and I suppose a move to Louisiana did not change either of them. Merlen was an adventurous soul who liked to drink a little too much, and Hassie was a perfectionist schoolteacher and daughter of a preacher.
Wow, and to think all of this information came to light because of an entry in a city directory....