Monday, March 16, 2015

Matrilineal Monday: Fearless Females Gerrie, Sara, and Jo Ann Guokas, ABT 1945

The photo at left is of my mother, Geraldine Margaret Guokas Pape; her mother, my grandmother Sara Melzina Wolfe Guokas Archibald (1907-1997), and my aunt, Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie Guokas).  I think the photo was taken in the spring of 1945, when Mom was 16 and graduating from high school, and Jo Ann was 14 and about to enter the convent.

I've written about my grandmother a little before, but here is a longer biography:

Sara Melzina Wolfe was born March 18, 1907, in Winn Parish, Louisiana, the second child and oldest daughter of Louis Henry Wolfe (1872-1929) and Addilee Shelton Wolfe Odom Harris. (1890-1977). Although Sara was her first name (and she was probably named for her maternal grandmother, Sarah Ann Spikes Shelton,1871–1935), many people called her by her middle name, which came from her paternal grandmother, Margaret Melzina "Maggie" Carroll Wolfe (1846-1911) or the nickname Millie.  (I got this photo from my mother's first cousin, and on the back of it, she had written "Aunt Millie.")

Sara's parents moved with her and her older brother Lloyd L. Wolfe (1906-1993) to Shreveport in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, where they can be found on the 1910 Census at 1204 Sprague Street.  Younger sister Edith Elizabeth Wolfe Smith Murff Brown Gould Knox (1910-2006) was probably born here.

The family next shows up in the 1912 Houston city directory, living at 1433 Cortlandt in the Houston Heights.  The next year, they moved a few blocks over to 924 Ashland, according to the 1913 city directory.  Youngest sister Neva Marie Wolfe Ely (1912-1995) had joined the family by that time.  City directories for 1915 show Louis has moved again, this time to 2006 Clark.

A few years later, the lives of my grandmother and her siblings got tougher.  Their father Louis was a bricklayer, and his work often had him away from home for long periods of time.  His wife Addilee was 18 years younger than her husband, only 15 when they married and 16 when she had her first child, and had four children by age 22.  The story goes that during World War I, Addilee volunteered to roll bandages for the Red Cross, met a military man, and abandoned her family to run off with him.

On April 15, 1916, Sara and her three siblings were placed in the DePelchin Faith Home, then located at 2710 Albany Street in Houston.  They lived there for the next 18 months,  They lived there until September 22, 1917.  City directories for 1917, 1918, and 1920 show Louis living at the home of his older brother Shannon Wolfe and his family at 1405 Alston, and the 1920 Census shows the children there as well.  Louis continued to live there through at least January 10, 1921, but by 1923-4, a city directory shows him, Lloyd, and Sara at 403 Lamar Ave. (Edith and Marie are too young to have separate listings).

On July 10, 1926, Sara married Charles Peter Guokas Jr. (1903-1967) at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Houston.  They honeymooned in Galveston, staying at the Hotel Galvez.  A 1927 city directory gives their address as 212 North York, and their first child, my uncle Charles Peter Guokas III (1927-1999) was born that year.  When my mother was born in 1928, and also in 1929 according to a city directory, they lived at 2215 Shearn.  However, on the 1930 Census, and also in 1932 according to a city directory, they lived a few blocks down the street with Charles' widowed father Charles Guokas Sr. (1863-1939) and Charles' younger brother Roy Lee Guokas (1917-1959) in Charles Jr.'s boyhood home at 1717 Shearn.  Sara's last child, Jo Ann, was born in late 1930.

The family moved to Austin in June 1933 when Charles Jr. was appointed secretary to Texas Governor Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson, serving until the end of her term in January 1935.  During that time, the family lived at 1604 Alta Vista Avenue in Austin.

The family moved back to Houston in 1935 and back into 2215 Shearn.  They were there on the 1940 Census and in a 1942 city directory. However, sometime after this, Charles and Sara separated.  I know my grandmother was frustrated by the fact that my grandfather had a hard time holding down a job.  My grandmother got a job with the U.S. Post Office.  She divorced my grandfather, and in 1945, she married a co-worker, Wallace Franklin "Archie" Archibald (1896-1970).

Houston city directories for 1951 through 1955 show Sara and Archie living at 4632 Norhill.  By the time of the 1957 directory, though, they had moved to 1118 Bay Oaks.  This is the house I remember from my childhood visits with "Nani and Po-po," often staying overnight.  Sara lived here until shortly after Archie's death on June 26, 1970.

Sara's sister Edith had lost her husband earlier that same month, so for a while, Sara shared Edith's home at 5514 Windswept, at least through 1974.  The two then purchased a house at 7431 Beechnut, which was not far from my family's home in the Sharpstown part of Houston.  I remember staying with Nani and Aunt Edith on some weekend visits home from college, since I no longer had a bedroom of my own in my parents' home.

Aunt Edith remarried in December 1981, and I believe it was around this time that my grandmother bought her condo, also in Sharpstown, at 6161 Reims, #102.  I remember visiting her there as well.  This is where she lived the rest of her life.

Sara was still working for the downtown post office when I was in second grade, as I remember going on a tour there with my class that she facilitated.  After she retired, she became very active in NARFE, the National Active and Retired Federal Employees association, which she had joined in 1961. She was a lifetime member of its Chapter #828, serving on several committees, participating in their social events, and attending many state and national conventions.  After Archie's death, she also traveled a lot with her daughter Jo Ann (Sister Jean Marie).  And of course she was present at so many family activities while I was growing up in Houston, as my siblings and I were her only grandchildren.

Sara developed lymphoma and passed away on November 16, 1997.  She is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Houston next to Archie.

© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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