Sweetwater Oklahoma, Roger Mills County.
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One lovely spring morning on April 17, 1914, in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, Roger Mills County, God presented a very small person, just 3 ½ lbs. to Harrison and Emma Wells. Her name was Loraine. Loraine joined three siblings, two brothers and one sister.
Mary Loraine was told that her first cradle was her Dad’s very large shoe box and she was covered with his handkerchief. From there she went to a dresser drawer. With lots of love and family care, she grew to 12 lbs. for my first birthday.
Her parents were told many times by family and friends, “that is a child you will never raise.”
She was later joined by a brother Wayne; he was 20 months younger. She and Wayne grew up almost twins, he being large for his age and she was small.
Weather permitting, she and Wayne almost lived outside, they couldn’t wait to get their shoes off in the spring.
They made pets out of all the of all the baby animals, and the pets were their entertainment. She and Wayne learned to ride the horses early. They were to young and small to ride alone, so they always rode together. In fact, Loraine always told her sons, “I cut my teeth on the saddle horn”
As soon as Loraine and Wayne were large enough, they both were dressed in striped overalls until school age, he is being 5 and Loraine being 7. The first dress Loraine can remember wearing, was when she started to school.
She and Wayne walked to school. They did their first four years of school in a two-room building named Mulberry, which was two miles north of Sweetwater.
Due to ill health of Lorraine’s Dad (Harrison), the family sold the farm home in Sweetwater and went to Arkansas. Her mom couldn’t live there, because the area was too low. They returned to Manitou, Oklahoma, Tillman County, home of Loraine’s grandparents, bought a farm, and built a new house. Loraine’s father died at this location in 1931. Loraine finished Jr. high and High School there, in the spring of 1933.
In the following fall, Loraine entered college at Southwestern, in Weatherford, Oklahoma. With the help of her family, and her working from home, she was able to manage 33 months of college straight through.
In the fall of 1937, Loraine went back to Sweetwater and secured a teaching position where she taught for three years. During her last spring in Sweetwater, Loraine went with a roommate to Garber, Oklahoma, where her friend had made an application for a new position for herself and Loraine, and the two were hired.
In the fall of “39” while teaching in Garber Loraine “re-met” Robert E. Harris. They had met in Weatherford when Bob was closing failed banks throughout the state, and he didn’t stay long in one town. They had stayed in contact one way or another over the years. Loraine and Bob dated again for a few months and were married April 20, 1940.
Loraine and Bob bought their first home in Enid, where they lived less than two years. From there they went to Wichita, Kansas, where they both found work in the war plants. Bob started in “Boring” and Loraine in the “Parts Plant” doing last inspections on small plane cabins.
The following January, Bob was drafted in the Army. Loraine stayed in Wichita until she could join him in Texas at “Camp Walters” near Mineral Wells. Bob could spend his nights off base, so they had an apartment in town. Loraine chose not to teach, but instead, worked in a “Dress Shop” which was owned by three “old maid sisters.” It was a great time and Loraine loved the sisters very much. Loraine and Bob were there four years, and in fact, Vern was born June 12, 1945 while they lived there. Because of this, Loraine says that Vern was a real native-born Texan.
The war ended for them later that spring, and Loraine and Bob were on their way to Kansas. Bob had contacts in Wichita and secured a position with the “Federal Land Bank” and from there Bob was sent to an office in Vinita, Oklahoma. Loraine and Bob acquired a small acreage west of town for their new home.
September came, and Vinita did not have enough teachers to start school. A neighbor was on the school board and knew Loraine was a teacher. The neighbors offered to keep little Vern if Loraine would teach. Knowing that the school was in great need, Loraine agreed to teach. Loraine enrolled 68 first graders to start school that year.
Loraine and Bob sold their first home in Vinita in just a few years, then acquired an Indian allotment, and a small acreage at White Oak, seven miles west of town in Vinita. They built a new home and had horses and cattle. They lived there and Loraine taught in the schools until 1954, when Bob was transferred to McAlester, Oklahoma.
Little Vern and Loraine finished the school year, which allowed Vern to complete his first three years of school in Vinita. They sold their home and started life in McAlester, Oklahoma.
Loraine and Bob bought a house in town until they could find another place in the country.
It was in McAlester, Oklahoma on February 13, 1957 when Loraine and Bob’s son Kim was born. He was a happy little guy with lots of black hair. They found a great place southeast of Krebs, Oklahoma, that had been a park as “Buck Lake”. It had a 10-acre lake which was well stocked with various kinds of fish, so this time they built their home overlooking a lake. Loraine used to laugh as she told her friends that she was the only homemaker in the area, who worked in her kitchen and watched her fish hook at the same time. Loraine and Bob loved this place, but after a few years the family needed to move back to town. They sold to one of the Drs. In town, and a member of the Drs. Family, still live on the place.
Loraine and Bob bought and sold a number of houses before they settled in their home on W. Washington Street in McAlester.
Bob retired, opened a small restaurant and ran it until his health gave away. (Loraine baked pies every morning before school)
Loraine retired in the spring of 1978, and Bob passed away on April 25, 1976. For a time, Loraine did a lot of traveling. She visited 44 states and Canada.
The two trips she enjoyed the most were the 10 northeastern states and the Holy Land area.
She shared that she loved the history of these states. The ships named the “Constitution” and she especially enjoyed the Boston area and the great color in the leaves.
Until the trip to the Holy Land area, the bible had been more or less another story to Loraine, but after her visit, became very real. She visited the Tomb, sat where Jesus lay, had her hand in the River Jordan, rode a camel atop the Mt. of Olives, went boating on the Sea of Galilee, visited Golgotha, and had her hand in the Dead Sea, and dripped water on her red leather shoes, which took the color out of her shoes for good. These are some of the things she could recall from that trip, when she shared her first 100 years in 2014
For the next number of years, Loraine did work in schools, churches, hospitals, libraries, etc. in McAlester & Moore.
Loraine lost her four siblings in the eighties, in a period of about four years, however they each lived past seventy years of age.
Loraine moved to Moore in the late eighties, to be near Kim and his family. She bought a home, became active in a new city and found her church. It was in this church, Loraine met and became friends Loretta Adams. Loraine shared that Loretta was one of the greatest ladies she’d ever known. Loraine and Loretta had many of the same interest. They became Co-chairs of the church bazaar and worked together for many years. They remained friends and lived in a place called Spanish Cove.
Loraine’s decision to move to Spanish Cove came after her age began to talk to her. She stated that her age reminded her it was time to give some thought to where she was going to spend her last days being comfortable and happy on this earth. Loraine discussed this matter with the good Lord and her sons Vern and Kim. She had known of and visited Spanish Cove with family who had lived there previously. She re-visited a number of times alone, then with each of her sons. After much discussion and prayer, God, her sons, and Loraine decided that Spanish Cove was the place for her to finish out her days on this earth. So, on November 12, 2009, Loraine moved into Janice 5 apt. 103. She made this place her home, became active in the “goings on”, and was very comfortable and happy. She was in her 5th year at the time of her 100th birthday and looked forward to more years as God saw fit.
Loraine added a P.S. at the end of her first 100 years which was this…
“I gave my life to God in a Tent Revival in a cow pasture, when I was eleven years old. I joined the Methodist Church at the age of sixteen in Manitou, Oklahoma. I was baptized in the city swimming pool that’s the only place there was enough water. I have been active in the church all my life. I held most offices in S.S., U.M.W. Taught class in Children’s Department for 1st through High School. My last position was Co-Chairing the “Bazaar” for 10 years or so in Moore, Oklahoma. I have attended Yukon First Methodist since living in Spanish Cove.”
God saw fit to 5 more years for Loraine to fulfill her calling and live life well.
On one April mourn in 2017, at 103 years of age Loraine shared this…
“A good life is fulfilling your desires, being happy, being able to smile being honest above everything and consideration of others is extremely important. If you can do these things, you’re likely to be around people like you. You want to be around people with the same values.”
June 15, 2019, Loraine Wells Harris received the “Welcome Home” of a lifetime as a Good and Faithful Servant in the arms of Jesus.