Early Years with Dorr


Dorr originally enrolled in electrical engineering but had to drop out his second semester because he was failing twelve hours. He switched to mechanical engineering and made the dean’s honor roll.

I met Dorr in December 1938 at an AcAcaciaInvitation.jpg (26731 bytes)acia Christmas party at Fiscus Hall. This is where Pat has his museum today. I was with Bus Walker, his best friend. We also went to Tulsa to hear Gene Krupa, the drummer, that night. That summer Mother and I moved almost on campus to an apartment in a large house across from the Acacia house which was next to the Thorton Smith store and the restaurant. Dorr would come over and we would sit in the swing on the front porch and talk. Dorr was the social chairman and later became vice president and president. He also was president of the Inter-fraternity Council.

Dorr and I started dating some this summer. We went swimming on our first date at Yost Lake, north of Stillwater. On one of our first dates, I had the split second sense that this might be the person I would marry. I said no. By fall, Dorr and I were dating quite a bit, but not steady. He asked me to wear his fraternity pin, but I was not ready at that time. Since he had just flunked out of school, the semester before I told him I would Mon&DadFirstDate2.jpg (45676 bytes)wear it only if he made the dean’s honor roll. The next semester he made the dean’s honor roll and I secretly wore his fraternity pin. My parents did not want me to get involved; thus I had to put the pin on after I left the house.

Mother and I moved again to the little duplex across from Fiscus Hall, (505 College) cater-cornered from the Campus Theater where I worked. During this time I pledged Alpha Delta Pi sorority, but kept delaying the initiation because it was $75, which I couldn’t seem manage on top of monthly dues. I lived at home with my mother. Daddy stayed at Perry during the week. He slept on a cot in a storage room. In February Dorr gave me my diamond which upset my parents. At mid-term exams we (Mother Dorr, Dorr and I) were gassed at the apartment at night. We all recovered.

Dorr and I decided to get married on Jumidwestcreamery.jpg (15689 bytes)ne 1, 1940. Convinced the folks (Mother really on May 31 at 11 PM). What a day! His mother, however, welcomed and loved me warmly when we were married. On Saturday, Daddy came in from Perry. Don and Uncle Knight were living with us. Sam and Ellen were living in Stillwater then too. I bought a dress, gown and robe, ordered a cake, had the dress altered and my hair fixed, besides cleaning the house. We were married at 9:00 PM at the house on Hester where we had moved after Uncle Knight came to stay. The wedding announcement has 1621 College as the address. Wedding Announcement Those attending were Mother, Daddy, Sam and Ellen, Uncle Knight, Mr. and Mrs. Messell, Bill and Mrs. Newell, Mrs. Dorr, Don, B. and Thirza, who came on a bus. Don played wedding music for us then he broke into swing music. I was so mad at him and tickled at the same time. The Methodist minister that married us was blind and I always wondered what he was thinking as Don played. We drove B.’s car to Oklahoma City and we didn’t arrive at the Biltmore until 2:00 AM. For a number of years we would go back to the Biltmore and stay in the same room (Room #1707) on our anniversary. We stopped in Guthrie and had hamburgers. We had until Monday noon when we had to be back for Dorr to go to work at the Midwest Creamery as the fountain manager for 25¢ an hour. We had $100 in the bank and we both still had three semesters left. Dorr worked every Sunday, which didn’t help draw us into a church.

YoungMaxyneWithOldCar.jpg (60724 bytes)We lived in a one-room garage apartment the first month and Mrs. Dorr moved to a house closer to the campus for the school year and again kept Brad and three other boys. After a month on our own we decided to live there too with Mother Dorr until Dorr graduated at mid-term. This house was located at 308 West Elm. (Note: It still exists in 2003.) After we were married, Mother moved to Perry to be with Daddy. Uncle Knight went back to an old soldier’s home in Kansas City for a while. After the school year Mother Dorr moved to Macon, Tennessee to be with her brother Dewitt. She taught in a country school, but every summer she would come to visit us. His mother became my best friend. Al’s mother was an active member of the Methodist church.

In June after one full year, I found I was pregnant. Dorr graduated from maxynepregnantwithed.jpg (50753 bytes)A&M in January, 1942 and in February took a job with Phillips, working initially at one of their out stations near Fairfax, going through their learning program (which means digging ditches). Since Dorr was out of town all week, Mother moved back to Stillwater to help me with my pregnancy. Sam and Ellen and B. also lived there together for the summer. B. was going to school for a summer short course. Ellen taught me lots about cooking while we all lived together. Since all of my classes were in the art department on the 4th floor and there was no elevator and the steps were bad, I dropped out of school my final semester on my doctor’s recommendation.

Dorr was with Phillips for approximately two years. After his training Dorr went to work at the Phillips office in Oklahoma City. We first lived in a garage apartment for about two years and then we moved to a three bedroom house on NE 13th. Phillips had a program where employees were paid for making suggestions and Dorr received a number of $5 awards for making suggestions.  It was during this time that we had our second son, Dana Michael. After Dana was born, Dorr went to work for Beech Aircraft and we moved to Wichita. This was during the war and all the aircraft firms were doing business with the government on a cost plus basis. Thus the companies tried to raise their costs. al'sfurniturehandiwork.jpg (33457 bytes)Beechcraft had approximately three hundred engineers and work for about one hundred. There were days that Dorr had nothing to do and this about drove him crazy. B. and Fran were also here in Wichita, even lived in the same apartment complex. We did not have any furniture so Dorr made all of our furniture including a divan, bed, chest of drawers and a lamp. I made the curtains.

AlDorrPhotographer.jpg (50206 bytes)Dorr had been interested in photography since high school. He had bought a miniature camera for a little over a dollar. When he went to college he bought a good 35-mm and began to take pictures around campus and sold them to the kids. He set up a darkroom on the back porch of the house he lived in on Husband Street. While we were in Wichita his photography really branched out. We lived in a complex of about 500 apartments and during the war most people could not get film. He somehow got film in 100-foot rolls, then he would rewind the film on spools for the camera. He would advertise six pictures for a dollar and had a trunk for his camera, floodlights, tripods, etc. that he would take with him. He made his money on the additional orders. For years he took pictures of the boys for our Christmas cards.

NavyDad.jpg (43207 bytes)In 1944 he enlisted in the Navy and went through officers’ candidate school in Hollywood Beach, Florida where he received his commission as an ensign. The ship stopped at New Orleans for a week and I went down on the bus to see him. I could not locate Dorr the first night and New Orleans was different from anything I had seen before. Postcard The ship then went through the Panama Canal and up the West Coast to San Francisco, where he attended navigation school. I went up to San Francisco on a train to see him for a week. He went on to Seattle for additional training. This time I took the train to Seattle and spent two more weeks with him. Dorr always had a 35-mm camera and he made extra money in school and after graduating by taking pictures. While in Seattle he bought photographic equipment and set it up in his stateroom. He was promoted to Lieutenant JG, and was the navigator of the LST. He traveled in the Pacific on an LST 817 for two years. His only major encounter was at Okinawa. He also saw Iwo Jima and both atom bomb devastations.

Al and I had fifty-five years together, which ended in July 1995. We loved having five sons and a dozen grandchildren and a dog.

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