Willard Augustus Talmage8 and
Vira Pearl (Platt) Talmage
The day before Christmas, 1900, Willard was born, and was the pride and joy of his parents, Lucy and Gus Talmage, and his Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam dearly loved all children and his greatest joy was to get them on his lap and sing "Ten Little Indians" over and over until they fell into slumberland.
(Tal, W.B.) Talmage
Willard was almost three when his sister Faye was born. He sat in his rocking chair and asked to "rock his baby sister," and he did. The bond that existed between them was formed then and lasted throughout their lives. Once Faye was promised a spanking for something she had done, and Willard said "Mama, spank me. It hurts sister and it doesn't hurt me." His children remember him as being just as tender-hearted with them.

When Willard was 6 or 7 years old he had rhuematic fever. It damaged his heart and effected his health for his whole life.

After the 8th grade, Willard was ready to go on to high school but since the family lived 10 miles from it, (too far away for him to walk each day) he stayed in the same school and attended the 8th grade again.

Siblings, Faye and Willard Talmage
The next year, Lucy made arrangements for him to stay all week in a boarding house that was run by a friend of hers. He would leave monday morning on the interurban railroad and come home Friday evening. His folks always let him bring a friend back home with him on Fridays when he wanted to without even asking first. Lucy always had plenty of food fixed and the city boys really enjoyed it.

The high school he attended in Alton burned down with all of the school records, so, though Willard never graduated, he could always said he did. With his knowledge from constant reading and his intelligence, no one ever questioned it.

When he started going out with friends his father told him that he should never hold back in paying his share of expense if it took his last penny, to pay it and smile. (His daughter Martha remembers him as extremely generous and giving, but that it was her mother that managed to save any money.)

Willard always liked dogs. He had one dog named Toodles that he claimed would do ANYTHING that he was asked to do. Willard made that claim to a door-to-door salesman one evening, and the man was very skeptical. Willard turned to Toodles and told him to stand up on the back of the sofa and put his front feet against the wall. Toodles did it - and the salesman was dumbfounded! (Willard and that dog had worked for HOURS on that trick!!)

1930 Federal Census, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Willard worked for the Baltimore & Ohio railroad but was 'furloughed' permanently, during the Depression. Two endless years later he went to work for Phillips Petroleum Co in Bartlesville, OK on October 1st of 1933. He lived in rooming houses in Bartlesville and ate at Shafs just north of Methodist Church on Johnstone.

Willard started dating Vira Pearl Platt, daughter of C. C. and Annie Platt of Stillwater in the fall of 1928 in Jenks, OK. She was teaching school in Jenks after being at country schools for several years. They soon became engaged but split up in 1930.

Vi and Willard patched up their problems when she came back from a summer in California in 1935. She had been to a palm reader who told her she was still in love with her old boyfriend. So Vi wrote Willard and said she missed him; he wrote back and said "Me Too!" He went to Stillwater to her graduation and took her an engagement ring. She always referred to it as her graduation present. They were married in 1938.

Vi on the women's basketball team and Oklahoma A&M
When they married, Willard was still working for Phillips Petroleum, and Vi had been teaching at Barnard Grade School in Tulsa. The couple rented a basement bedroom in Bartlesville from Mr. and Mrs. Ernon Hathaway who remained lifelong friends. In the summer of 1939, Vi and Willard made a belated honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls, on their first wedding anniversary. That same year they moved into a new home at 2042 S. Osage, Bartlesville, where they lived throughout their married life. (The original mortgage papers for this pre-war home show the purchase price was $3700, with monthly payments of $22).
The residence was one of the first built on the new street, but new homes were built rapidly and were quickly occupied by other couples that were starting families. It was a stable neighborhood and few people ever moved into or away from the neighborhood once the homes were built and occupied. Their home was a small frame house, with
2042 S. Osage, Bartlesville, OK
two bedrooms and one bathroom, and with a detached one-car garage. Willard dug out the crawlspace in an area under the back bedroom and made a cement staircase and opening from the backyard so that there was a basement. When the children were tiny, ice for the icebox was stored in the basement. Vi canned vegetables and fruits, and the jars were stored on shelves in the basement for many years! (Martha remembers that when the house was sold in the mid 70's, there was a jar of beans on the shelf dated 1948 that Grandmother had canned.)
Vi and Willard brought their new baby daughter to this home. Willard often commented jokingly that the saying 'Life begins at 40' was not always true. Because of Judy's birth on his birthday ( In 1940), he would say, "For me, life ended at 40."
( December 24 was also the birth date of Vi's sister, Elizabeth Platt Bradley. Elizabeth sometimes visited for the holidays and a 'three-way celebration' of the joint birthdays.) It was convenient to have sisters who were nurses. Nora helped with Judy's delivery and later Elizabeth was the nurse when Martha was delivered and when Judy's tonsils were removed .

Willard was thrilled to have finally become a parent. He doted on his family, indulging his children and bragging on their brilliance to any who would listen. Vi had taught for many years and had an excellent rapport with children. She knew countless games. She loved all children and listened with a willing ear to hours of chatter. (Daughter Martha remembers coming home from school and rushing in to talk to Mother for long periods while Mom fixed dinner and listened with rapt attention!)

In November 1942, Judy visited on the farm of Vi's sister Annabelle (and Ben) Fugate, near Orlando, Oklahoma, while Vi was in the hospital having her 2nd child, Martha Lou.

Vi was the quieter parent, at least as far as talking went. She sang and whistled more than she talked. She was about 5' 5" tall, with fine brown hair. She was always slim, never weighing more than about 125 (and much less than that in her later years). She usually kept a permanent in her hair and she always wore it short. Her sisters talked about how stylish she was as a young single schoolteacher.

After her two girls were established in elementary school, Vi began to wish she could contribute to her family's income, and recalled how much she loved her career as a teacher. She began to plan for a pre-school that she could operate from the family home while her children were away from school. During a trip to California she studied methods used in pre-schools in the Los Angeles area. In 1950 she began the first pre-school in Bartlesville and possibly the first in the state of Oklahoma. A class was offered for about a dozen 3 year old children two mornings each week, and a similar class for four year olds on alternate mornings. The school was operated to coincide with the public school year and continued until after Willard retired from Phillips in 1961. When her girls were still at home, Vi would entertain her family at mealtime with some of the funny things the children had said or done at pre-school that day. It was her family's favorite part of the day! Her little students adored her, and their early preparation for school led them to be classroom stars as they progressed on through their schooling. Vi always had long waiting lists for openings in her pre-school!
Soon after, she began to have migraine headaches and began to show symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Both of these plagued her until her death in 1980. Vi was not a person who complained. Rheumatoid arthritis can be a very crippling and disabling disease, but Vi found ways to accomplish tasks despite her arthritis, inventing many 'gadgets' and devices to assist her in tasks that her crippled hands and other joints could not manage. She almost never asked for help, but would 'figure out a way' to do anything.
Willard, above. Willard and Vi in their 60's, right.

On Wednesday, July 31, 1968, Willard had a stroke while in the Tower Foodliner Grocery store in Bartlesville. (The Tower had a snack bar where he spent hours at a time chatting with friends and strangers alike) He died on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 1968.

Vi was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy, but thankfully, no further treatment was required. In her later years she had severe lung congestion which was diagnosed as emphysema, but which was proved to be yet another side effect of her rheumatoid arthritis. She died in December of 1981 of lung problems and heart failure. She and Willard are buried with all of his family in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa, OK.