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Bill Ellis: Dec. 7 a special day for me

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 01:12 PM

What happened on today’s date 108 years ago is very important to me. I owe my very existence to the events of that date.

My Dad, Clarence Ellis, was born on Dec. 7, 1904, the son of William Hamilton Ellis, formerly of Putnam County, and Octavia Hodge Ellis of Wevaco, W.Va. My Grandpa Ellis died when my Dad was 9 years old. I wish I could have known him and something about his life in the county where I now live.

I feel some degree of possible kinship to every Ellis I hear about who also has Putnam County roots. Just maybe?

I recall clearly the day my Dad celebrated his 37th birthday. It was a cold, but sunny day. I was 11 years old, soon to be 12 one month after Christmas. My beautiful sister, Marie, was 9, and brother, “Whitey” who was called “Butch” in those days, was just 4. We were playing in the yard when Mom came outside to tell us that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor — the day which President Franklin Roosevelt said would “live in infamy.”

Would Dad be going to war? He did not serve in the military but was the Civilian Defense Director in our Wevaco community that would have been difficult for any enemy to locate. I was honored to be a messenger boy in this war effort.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor marked the entrance of Japan into World War II on the side of Germany and Italy. On December 8, the United States declared war on Japan and likewise against the Axis powers on Dec. 11.   

A dozen of our family members, cousins and uncles, served in the military, some seriously injured for life and one uncle killed.

In October of 1943, my Dad and three cousins, Henry Hodge, Hobart Hodge and Ben Mullins, bought 168 acres of land, the old Simms farm that dated back to Civil War years. I live on the five remaining acres of that purchase to which my parents, Clarence and Goldie Ellis, and children moved on June 2, 1947.

Dad is the one who stands out among many of the famous, powerful, wealthy and brilliant I have met. He is in a class by himself. My mentor and role model.

More than once in those years of growing up, he and I would head for the top of the mountain with a good sharp hatchet to cut down a small evergreen to be the Christmas Tree in our house. I can recall so much about those days. Things we did together.

It will be Christmas in 18 more days. Remember that Christmas is all about the birth of the Christ Child. Anything less is not enough.  

Anything more is too much. Be determined to stay out of debt with Christmas purchases. Buy only what you have the money to pay for.

Enjoy this “most wonderful time of the year” — you, your friends and family.

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist who can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.