Debbie (Mary Frances) Reynolds was born April 1, 1932 in El Paso, Texas to Raymond Francis and Maxine N. Harmon Reynolds. Raymond had been born in 1903 in Whitewright, Grayson County, Texas. His father was a rural school teacher in 1910. By 1920, Raymond’s father was working in the Post Office and the family lived in Dallas. As of 1930, Raymond and Maxine had married and were living with Maxine’s family in El Paso. Raymond was working as a carpenter for a railroad company. That same year, their eldest son William Owen Reynolds was born to Raymond and Maxine, followed by Mary Frances (likely named for Raymond’s sister) in 1932. Raymond lost his job in Texas during the Depression. Reynolds was not embarrassed by her humble upbringing. She would say of their life in El Paso that her mother took in washing and that they always had plenty to eat, even if her father had to go out in the desert and shoot rabbits. By 1940, the new family had moved to Burbank, California where Raymond was working as a “tinder man” for Southern Pacific.
Prior to the United States’ entry into World War II, a number of joint agreements were instituted between the United States and the United Kingdom, including the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the British Flying Training Schools and the Arnold Scheme. Each one involved training airmen from the U.K. at facilities in the United States. The British Flying Training School involved seven locations where training was carried out. From west to east, they were Lancaster, California; Mesa, Arizona; Sweetwater, Texas; Terrell, Texas; Ponca City, Oklahoma; Miami, Oklahoma and Clewiston, Florida. The school at Sweetwater was only open a few months, but the school at Terrell was in operation from 1941 to 1945.
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Hardin Richard Runnels was the sixth governor of Texas. He was born in Mississippi to Hardin D. and Martha Darden Runnels in 1820. After his father died, the future governor came to Texas in 1842 during the years of the Republic of Texas from Mississippi with his mother, his uncle Hiram George Runnels and his three brothers. They first settled on the Brazos River before moving to Bowie County where they started a cotton plantation on the Red River near the community of Old Boston, named for an early store owner, W. J. Boston. New Boston later arose when the rail lines bypassed Old Boston four miles to the north. While still in his twenties, Runnels was elected in 1847 to the first of four terms in the Texas Legislature. After his last term in the legislature in which he served as Speaker of the House, he was elected Lieutenant Governor serving under Governor Elisha M. Pease during the latter’s second and final term.
The U.S.S. Indianapolis (CA-35) is part of a fascinating World War II story. The ship was a heavy cruiser that played an important role in the atomic bombing missions that led Japan directly to its surrender and the end of the war. Indianapolis was ordered in 1929 and her hull was laid down at the Camden Yard in New Jersey on March 31, 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. According to Naval History and Heritage Command, her displacement was 9,800 tons, her length was 610 feet, beam was 66 feet and draft was 17’4″. The ship was constructed to accommodate a crew of 1,269, achieve a speed of 32 knots and was armed with 9 8-inch and 8 5-inch guns. The Indianapolis was the second of two ships of the Portland class.
Fort Clark was one of the longest forts to be in service in Texas. It was founded in 1852 and not finally closed or abandoned until 1946. It was considered a favorable location due to having a plentiful water supply from the Las Moras River and its close proximity to Las Moras Mountain. It served two major purposes, to protect the area against Indian raids and to protect its portion of the military road from San Antonio to El Paso. Companies C and E of the the First United States Infantry were posted there. It was named for Major John B. Clark who died in 1847 during the Mexican-American War.
John Dillinger was a well known gangster who operated in the United States until his death in 1934. He had been born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 22, 1903. Dillinger’s mother died when he was three years old and he was raised by his father and stepmother, with whom he is said to have had a difficult relationship. The family moved around somewhat and Dillinger dropped out of school. Around 1923, he joined the United States Navy. He was assigned to the U. S. S. Utah but only served a short while before deserting, after which he launched his criminal career. Not long afterward, Dillinger was arrested, tried and convicted for a 1924 robbery of a local grocery in his adopted home town of Mooresville, Indiana and was sentenced to the Indiana State Prison. There he was exposed to fellow convicts including a number who had been bank robbers. Upon his parole in the spring of 1933, he and several associates began to commit a series of bank robberies in Indiana and Ohio.