In 1952 my mother, Billie L. Ratliff, met my dad at the Motor Lunch Drive-in
on Rail Road Ave near Washington Blvd. in Beaumont. She was hopping cars and he was racing Harley-Davidson motorcycles on
the side while working at Pure Oil in Beaumont as a laborer. He hung around with Everett Brashear
and Tommy Byars at Byars’ motorcycle shop.
In 1953 dad won the Texas
State Championship in Houston. He was in Sedalia, MO on Aug. 22, 1953 and in Norton, KS on Aug. 13, 1954. (see
"copies of paperwork")
George Holter provided the following information:
These races were AMATUER NATIONAL RACES IN 1952. Your Dad did the following--
PA 5 MILE AMATUER NATIONAL 82 M 5th Place
IL 10 MILE AMATUER ( MILE TRACK ) NATIONAL 82 M
In 1955 my dad set the track record in Dodge City, Kansas because the track was lengthened
after that season. It was during this race that my brother (yet unborn) would get his name. Mom and dad had attended this
race with Tommy and another young racer named Keith Barkley. Tommy won Expert, dad won Amateur and
mom told Keith, "We’ve taken the first two trophies, if you win Novice we’ll take all three home
to Beaumont and if this baby is a boy, I’ll name him after you!" Keith won, they brought all three trophies home
and when my brother was born June 4, 1955, he was named Keith Lacy, after the young racer and after dad. (My mom was the only
woman who was allowed in the Pit as she had a "Pit Card".)
Sometime after the birth of my youngest brother, Shannon, my father spent
some time as a "counter man" at the Pig Stand Drive-in on Calder Ave but attended college classes at Lamar Tech (now Lamar University).
My parent's marriage lasted about 6 years. Keith, Shannon
and I went to live with our paternal grandparents in Beaumont. We lived with Grandpa & Grandma Wilkinson until about
1962. Dad had married Lillian Olga (nee Ecker) Newell of Houston (her family was originally from San Antonio). She had
been a nurse and was once married to an airline pilot. She had 3 sons by Mr. Newell, Richard (Ricky), Terry, and Kenneth (Kenny).
The last time I saw any of them was 1995.
My grandparents asked if we wanted to stay with them or go to Houston
with dad & Lillian. Keith & I moved to Houston while Shannon stayed with my grandparents. I always regretted that
Dad joined Quintana Petroleum Company of Houston in 1960 as a corporate pilot. He was well
liked by his bosses, the Cullens
of Houston. He flew many places during his 7 years with the company.
|Radio Operators Card-FCC 1958
|Flight Card-Federal Aviation Mechanic
Once, when I was about 10 years old, he was taking the Lt. Gov. of Texas
back to Austin and I was able to go along! I don't recall much about the passenger but I do remember seeing the lights
of Austin on the horizon while we were about 3000 ft in the air. What a beautiful sight!
I had always
wanted to get my pilot's license, like my father but was never able to due to lack of funds. My eldest step-brother
was able to take advantage of the lack of a Will (dad had one, and had left his parents as the administrators, but it mysteriously
disappeared) and used the money his mother received from my father's estate to obtain his college education and pilot's
license. I think he still lives in Houston and in fact was given my father's house, by his mother, Lillian.
Another item that had disappeared was the rifle my father made in the garage. I remember his working on it when
we lived on Glenmar Street in the Beverly Hills addition of southern Houston. Years later I learned that my step-mother
had given it to her youngest son.
By anyone's moral standards, my father's rifle should have
gone to his son, my brother Keith. Lillian had a way of keeping things that did not belong to her and giving
them away with little consideration of anyone else other than her family. No wonder my father was going to divorce her, had
he lived long enough. How beneficial for Lillian that he died so soon. How beneficial the Will was never found.
I think her behavior was the tale-tell mark...on the day of the funeral, everyone met at our home in Sagemont. My mother
walked in on Lillian in the bathroom and found her "dancing a jig" in front of the mirror. Certainly not the behavior
of a grieving widow.
Some time later my dad's parents had his body exhumed from the Houston
cemetery and re-interned in Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Beaumont where they had a family plot. Lillian "threw a
forked fit", grandpa told me many years later. What should she have cared? I wondered if she was afraid forensic
test may be done? Some thing like a test for strychnine poisoning?
My father was very strong
in his political beliefs. During the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign of 1964, my father built a "Barry
Goldwater for President" sign the size of an advertising billboard and mounted it on the roof of our house.
At that time we were living on Glenmar in the Beverly Hills Addition off of Kingspoint in south Houston. The Almeda
Mall was still just cow pasture.
We attended the King of Glory Lutheran Church (founded in 1961 by the Rev. Gordon Spong),
10050 Fuqua, South Houston. There was a story of how one of the church members lost some money in a poker game and my dad
found the guys who "won" the money, played them for the money that was lost and won it all back....or so the story