My Four Score and Ten Years is the memoir of a nonagenarian husband, father, grandfather, Kansas
University professor, and world traveler. Jim Drury tells the story of his life, which spans most of the twentieth century, beginning with stories of his own grandfather in the 1880s. His recollections include the time he spent in
Japan, Pakistan, Costa Rica and Poland, on the campus of KU
and touring around the world with his wife in their later years. Jim Drury was born in 1919 in East St. Louis,
Illinois. He studied at the University of Illinois and did his graduate work at Princeton. He lived in Washington,
D.C., during the Second World War and served in the US Army.
He remained an Army Reservist until his retirement. It was in Washington that he met and married his wife of over sixty-five years, Florence (nicknamed Danny). He and Danny later moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where they have lived for most of their lives and where Jim was a Professor of
Political Science at Kansas University for over forty years.
Jim and Danny have traveled extensively and lived for short periods in Japan, Pakistan, Costa Rica, and Poland.
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About the Author
Poland. They have three children and eight grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
My Four Score and Ten YearsMemories through the Eyes of a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Professor, and World Traveler ...
By James Westbrook Drury
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 James Westbrook Drury
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMy grandfather, Dr. Henry Naltinus Drury (Drewry).
My grandfather, Henry Naltinus Drury was born on November 29, 1847 in Switzerland County, Indiana. He lived on a farm there until the age of fifteen. He studied at the Industrial University of Champagne, Illinois.
He volunteered to go on the train to Chicago to help put out the great Chicago fire in 1871.
Grandpa had trained to be a civil engineer but when his first wife died, possibly in childbirth, after only a year of marriage, he attended the Rush Medical Clinic in Chicago and became a medical doctor.
He then married my grandmother, Mary Mann. They had two children, Jean Paul Drury - my father - and Lillian Lucille Vernon nee Drury, my aunt.
County records show that Dr. Drury practiced medicine in Altamont, Illinois. Altamont is a small farm town in the western part of Effingham County in the central part of Illinois.
In the 1890's there were no electric lights, no TVs, no automobiles, and the world moved much more slowly. Henry, my grandfather, was a practicing medical doctor who made his calls in a horse-drawn buggy. It went slowly -about three miles an hour. There was one big advantage though. The horse knew the way home. When he finished treating a sick patient, Henry could just start the horse in the right direction, lay the reins in his lap and start getting some much needed sleep.
In Altamont the winters could be severe. My grandmother (Mary Mann Drury) would hear the horse come to the barn and send out young Jean, my father, aged six or seven, to help his father un-harness the horse from the buggy by knocking the ice off the joints of the harness with a hammer. This is the way country doctors practiced medicine in the 1870's. With the coming of the automobile, doctors could more easily make house calls, but they lacked the sophisticated equipment of today to diagnose illnesses.
About 1980, I was traveling in Illinois along Interstate Route 70 with my family and went into Altamont to see the old house where my grandfather had lived. Though it had been years since I had been there, I thought I recognized the angle of the street and the relationship to the railroad line and found the house. I talked to some of the locals and asked who knew the most about the history of the town. I was referred to an eighty-year-old widow who made her living by "taking in boarders," i.e. she cooked for them and had rooms where they slept.
She knew the old Doctor Henry Drury. Once she had been treated by the old doctor when she had diphtheria. Someone in her family had fetched Dr. Drury and he had come out to diagnose and treat her. She remembered that Dr. Drury and her father had spent at least one night at her side and held basins when she had to vomit. Her mother, somehow, was not able to swab her throat, so Dr. Drury showed her father how to do it, and he was able to treat her once the doctor had left. She thought that Dr. Drury had saved her life. This lady recalled that Dr. Drury had brought his son Jean and his daughter Lillian to see her at a later time.
In 1907, when my father, Jean Paul Drury was 20, his mother, Mary Mann Drury died, probably of cancer. She was the one who had been holding the family together. Grandpa deeply mourned Mary's death. He went to the cemetery and sat beside her grave for hours. Probably for a change of scenery he then took an extended trip to Southeast Missouri, leaving Jean to take care of himself and sending Lillian to live with her mother's sister. Henry Drury wrote a document somewhat like a will. It spoke of a guardian (undesignated) for his beneficiaries, Jean and Lillian Drury. He gave to the guardian the authority to administer his estate, which was to be used for the advancement and college education of Jean and Lillian. The document has witnesses and was notarized.
In later years when my father and his sister Lillian could no longer care for Henry, he was confined to what in those days was described as the insane asylum. There, I have been told, he was allowed to doctor other patients.
On April 4, 1921, Henry Drury died at the Asylum in Alton. The hospital asked for instructions for burial. Presumably he was buried in Altamont.
My father, Jean Paul Drury 1887-1964
On October 4, 1887, Jean Paul Drury was born in Altamont, Ill. There is some conflicting evidence as to the date of his birth. His obituary reported him to be 77 years of age at the time of his death.
Around the time of Jean's birth, Altamont had about five hundred people and was the center of a farm community. It is about 90 miles east of St. Louis, Illinois, in the flat plains of the eastern part of the Middle West. There were maybe fifty houses in the town. It was an established little community on the main east-west line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Jean was not always a model young child. He could be mischievous. In those days there were no supermarkets. Grocery stores would buy things in bulk and then sell small amounts to the local people. People would buy molasses to sweeten food, much as we would use brown sugar today. People in Altamont got their molasses in big barrels, weighing several hundred pounds. These barrels were hard to move. One time, a barrel on the station platform broke and molasses spilled out over some of the platform.
Jean and some of his friends had decided to go down to the railroad station and see the train come in. Some one of the boys, maybe Jean, got the idea of seeing what would happen if they put molasses on the train track. They got several old brooms and swept the spilled molasses onto the track just ahead of where they expected the engine to stop.
The train came in and stopped to let passengers off and let new ones get on. When the conductor signaled the engineer to start the train, the engineer slowly applied power to the engine and the wheels just spun and kept on spinning, as he applied the throttle. He tried it several times, but still he was not able to start the train.
The conductor and station-master went to talk to the engineer. By this time the boys decided the best thing for them was to disappear. The train stayed in Altamont longer than scheduled; it remained there until the molasses was sanded off the train tracks.
I do not know whether the station-master got in touch with the parents of the pranksters and whether the boys were punished for their prank, but I do know my dad enjoyed telling me this story about his youth.
In 1903, Jean made a trip to St. Louis, to see the World's Fair, celebrating the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Almost certainly this was the first big trip Jean made from the small town of Altamont.
Jean attended the Academy of the University of Illinois, in Urbana during 1905 and 1906. Universities ran such academies to qualify students to attend classes at the university. This was almost certainly the case for Jean. He had four semesters at the Academy.
His mother died in 1907. In March 1909, the County Clerk issued a "Letter of Conservatorship," at the request of Jean, who considered his father unable to manage his own affairs, being incapacitated by grief at the loss of his wife. Jean, age 22, was officially appointed Conservator for his father, Henry. In the next term of the Council in February 1910, the Council heard the matter and approved the appointment of Conservator.
In 1918, Jean sent a formal letter to Lillian Drury, Probate Judge in Chamberlain, South Dakota. (This Lillian happened to have the same given name as my aunt Lillian Lucille; the judge was a cousin of my father's.) My grandfather was no longer taking care of his affairs and had left it for Jean to do. Probably in relation to his father's affairs that needed managing, Jean sent her a letter with a report he had filed with the Effingham County Clerk appointing him as the conservator of the estate of "H. N. Drury distracted" - denoting that Grandpa Drury could no longer manage his own affairs.
Without formal training, Jean had picked up telegraphy. He got himself employed as a telegraph operator on the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was the major east-west railroad in that part of Illinois. Under the rules of the Union of Telegraphers contract, he was able to develop seniority and eventually move to more desirable assignments closer to St. Louis.
While working his way to East St. Louis, he boarded with a farm family. The head of the household proposed that Jean settle down on the farm and marry the daughter. While for some it would have been an offer difficult to refuse, Jean turned it down as he was not ready to settle down at that point.
In 1915 Jean married Bernice Boone Taylor in East St. Louis, Ill. Bernice was twenty four and my father was thirty. I think that my parents met at activities for young people, run by their church. They moved into one of the three houses which Alex Taylor, her father, had built on 41st Street. Bernice's parents and her younger siblings lived in the big house. Her eldest brother, Arthur and his wife Marie lived in the bungalow next door to my parents, Jean and Bernice. When Arthur and Marie moved to Detroit, Jean's sister, Lillian, (my aunt) who had married Clinton Vernon, moved into the house they had vacated. By this time my father had started working as an accountant for St. Louis Structural Steel.
In 1922, an income tax form shows Jean paid $2.89. This tax included farm income tax for the orchard Jean operated as a business with a letter head of "Drury and Makins, Growers and Distributors of Fancy Apples." The income tax report for 1923 is missing, but in 1924, he paid $16.62 tax. My father had inherited the apple orchard from my grandfather, Henry. The apple orchard was in Vevay, Indiana. My father had a manager on site, and I have records from my father pertaining to the storage of barrels that he would sell later in the season at a higher price.
On August 20, 1924, Jean bought the Pearing house in the 1400 block of 40th street, in East St. Louis. This house was a thousand feet closer to the Hawthorne School where I first went to school.
As the bookkeeper-treasurer for the St. Louis Structural Steel, my father's salary was such that when we lived in the Pearing house we had Lydia, an African American wash-woman come in once a week to do the laundry. Lydia was treated pretty much as a member of the family. Years later she would occasionally come to visit my mother in the Law Office in the Arcade Building where my father was then working.
In September 1925, my father quit his job at the St. Louis Structural Steel Company and joined Clinton Vernon, his brother-in-law, in buying a Ford Agency in the small town of Vandalia Mo.- about 60 miles northwest of St. Louis, Missouri. The two families, Drury and Vernon, moved to Vandalia, Mo. My father always said he did this to keep his brother-in-law, Clint, from "losing his shirt." At this time the Ford Company would ship cars to dealers. The dealers were required to take them if they wanted to keep their franchise. Incidentally, this was just the time when Ford started making Model A's and stopped making Model T's. I was told of a conservative farmer who liked the Model T's so well that he bought a second new Model T to store in his barn. He could not believe that the new Model A car could be better.
In 1927, while owning the Ford Agency, Jean made a trip to Springfield, Ill, (the state capital) and took an examination which, together with courses he had taken at the Benton School of Law in St. Louis, qualified him to practice law in Illinois. The Drury family and the Vernon family rented houses in Vandalia, suggesting that they never intended to stay. The Drury family lived in the Kunst House, which was just across the square park adjoining the Ford agency. When it came time to leave Vandalia, my mother and I roomed with Mrs. Bevans, the neighbor, for two or three months to allow me to complete my school year, while my father moved to East St. Louis ahead of us. He had decided to get out of the car sales business and wanted to start a new venture.
Upon leaving Vandalia, my family moved to a small suburban acreage we called the Bluff House adjacent to East St. Louis, Ill. We had a small house and a big chicken house. There were at least a hundred white leghorns - reputedly a good laying strain. Jean was expecting to sell eggs on the side, while practicing law. After a few months in the Bluff House, Jean acquired the 1728 North 48th Street house. The city limits ran down the middle of 48th Street, with the house being in the Village of Washington Park.
Unfortunately my mother never liked the house. It was clearly the least attractive house that my family had ever lived in. Previous houses had been brick and 1728 was a frame house.
In about 1928, my father opened law offices in the Arcade Building in downtown East St. Louis. Clinton Vernon got a Real Estate Broker's license and also got set up to sell insurance - a typical combination in those days. My father and Uncle Clint shared offices and my mother ran the office for both of them. In the same year, Jean ran for a seat in the Illinois state assembly. I am uncertain as to whether he got the Republican nomination or merely ran in the Primary, but this district was strongly Democratic and the Democratic candidate, Mel Price, was elected and served several terms in the Illinois lower legislative house and then many terms in U.S. Congress.
I embarrassed my father. He was an ardent Republican precinct committee man. In Roosevelt's fourth term election, I voted by absentee ballot. When my wife and I next visited St. Louis, the first thing my father asked me was how I could have embarrassed him by voting Democratic. We asked how he could know this, as voting is by secret ballot. He said, "Yes, but there was only one absentee ballot in my precinct and it was a democrat vote and I knew it was yours!"
During this time, the U.SA and the rest of the world were enveloped by the Great Depression. Jean was probably the only attorney who lived in the Village of Washington Park. He applied for the office and was appointed the attorney for the Village. This afforded him one of the few (if not only) retainer fees he could count on each month. The family was glad that they had not extended themselves and bought a more expensive house.
My father's law practice never really made much money. My father told me that what he really enjoyed doing was clearing titles on pieces of property. Sometimes he would buy a piece of property, use his legal expertise to clear the title and then sell it for a profit. He decided the stock market was too volatile for him and so he depended for his income primarily on his rental property in East St. Louis, Ill. For some of the time he owned four, four-family apartment houses (16 units in all.) These were all brick units, which he kept in good shape. They were rented mainly by African American families, and my mother continued to take care of these sixteen rental units for several months after my father died.
Under the United States constitutional legal system in which all alleged criminals are entitled to counsel, my father was assigned to defend, at one point, a man I'll call Mr. X, who had no money to pay for my father's attorney's fee. My father must have won the case as Mr. X did not go to jail and my father allowed him to work out the attorney fee by digging a hole for our sewage box. This was before the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came along that paid men to manually dig out and install sewer systems.
I seem to have inherited my social and extroverted nature from my father. My mother told me that though my father had no formal musical training, he had a good ear and could play almost anything on the piano. He later taught himself to play the violin and sang for many years in the Masonic Men's chorus. He was always the life of a party; he could easily bring good spirits to the group of people around him.
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Table of Contents
My grandfather, Dr Henry Naltinus Drury (Drewry)....................3
My father, Jean Paul Drury 1887-1964....................7
My mother, Bernice Boone Taylor (Drury)....................15
Aunt Lillian and Uncle Clint....................17
James Westbrook Drury....................21
Graduate School Replies....................25
Active Army Duty - Apartment 202....................28
Back at Princeton 1946....................36
University of Kansas....................41
Professor Ethan P Allen....................45
Kansas Legislative Research Department....................47
Identifying with Political Parties....................49
531 Days in Pakistan - February, 1961 - August, 1962....................61
Two Summers in Costa Rica....................70
Professor Cliff Ketzel....................83
Brushing Shoulders with US Presidents....................84
An Unidentified Buyer and Seven Uncertain Sellers....................89
My Children and Grandchildren....................94
Jonathan Daniels Drury....................94
Liesel Drury née Eiselen....................96
Jane Elizabeth Drury....................98
Ann Bernice Heyse nee Drury....................99
50th Wedding Anniversary, 1993....................100
The Drury Reunion: 2000, Door County - Two, six, ten, thirteen, eleven, eleven, six, and two....................104
Our 60th Wedding Anniversary....................114
Our 65th Wedding Anniversary....................115
Prince Edward Island, Canada....................119
Corning, New York....................120
Birding trip to Corpus Christi Texas and Galveston....................121
Grand Canyon West....................122
International Falls, Minnesota....................125
Rome Seminar with Jim Seaver and a Sad Unexpected Trip to South Africa....................127
Sumitomo Bank, 1996....................128
Learning about the Netherlands....................131
Norwegian Coastal steamer to the tip of Norway....................135
My Views on Life, Religion and God....................141
Reflections and Forecasts....................143
My Retirement Years....................144