Monday, June 20, 2011

Bertha Miller found a home in Texas

Bertha, Albert and Fred Miller
Bertha Miller was born April 12, 1921 in Watertown, South Dakota, but the family lived there only a short time before moving to western Nebraska.  By the time her parents Pete and Dora decided to move to Whitney in 1927, Bertha was school age and started school there.  As did many of the other Miller children, she dropped out of school at an early age.  Years later, she remembered working in Chadron at the old Niles Hotel, which used to sit on the east side of First and Bordeaux Streets.

Bertha moved to Texas in early June of 1941, traveling with “Bobbi” Derrick and her husband, as well as Grandpa and Grandma Derrick.   She said Bobbie had asked her jokeingly to come to Texas – and she did!  Bertha recalls that when they arrived on a Friday evening, it was pouring down rain.

“I wished to God that I had never left.”  But Bertha stayed, and fell in love with her adopted home state.

Louis and Bertha Bird
Among one of her earliest jobs in Texas was working for Dairy Land, a company that packed ice cream in those small cups which then were shipped out to military bases.  She often told the story about how she and her girlfriend would write their addresses on the lids of some of those cups that went out to soldiers and sailors around the world.

Eventually, Bertha took a job as a waitress in a downtown Houston restaurant.  While working the night shift, she got acquainted with a local cab driver, Louis Bird.  Their courtship resulted in marriage on May 20, 1947.

Louis and Bertha had one child, Judy, who was born on New Years Day 1949.  For many years, the Bird family lived out on the north edge of Houston, Hage Street.  Among other things, it allowed the family to have a large garden plot.  It was a hobby Bertha avidly pursued.

Louis Bird was a truck driver for most of his working years – driving routes only in Texas, so he could be near his family.  He retired from Brown Express; he died in 1974.

By the 1980s, Houston had grown so much that the Bird “rural” neighborhood was surrounded by housing developments and businesses.  It was clear that Houston was one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

Her daughter Judy remembers that Bertha loved to work in the garden, growing and canning vegetables – taking great pride in her Texas pecan pickles and jellies.  She also enjoyed planting and caring for a wide variety of flowers.

Bertha Bird died April 17, 1989 in Houston, just five days after her 68th birthday.

Judy (Bird) Callaway holds her granddaughter, Aubree, flanked by daughter
Lori (left) and Chacy (right -- in red).  Chacy is Aubree's mommy.  The fellow
standing behind at left is Kerry Callaway, Chacy and Lori's father.  
Bertha's daughter married and had two daughters, Chacy Callaway – born in 1974 --  and Lori Callaway, who was born in 1976. 

For some 21 years, Judy worked at Chase Bank in Houston, while raising her girls as a single mother.   She took severance from Chase in January 2000, but  continues to live in the Houston area.

Judy's older daughter, Chacy, graduated from Sam Houston State University and teaches elementary school.  She and her husband, John, live in Magnolia.

Lori went to the University of Houston and briefly pursued a career in broadcasting in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  However, she soon returned to Houston and – like her older sister -- now teaches elementary school in the Houston area.

You'll find higher resolution versions of all the photographs shown here -- and many more --  in the Miller Family Gallery