Biography

ALMA LEE BLACK


Alma was born November 18, 1901 at Citrus Co., FL to the parents of Jacob and Alice (Martin) Black. She married Clyde Walker on April 25, 1916, at Bartow, Polk Co., Fl. Her parents were in Haines City visiting relatives when the two of them met. Clyde was from Ft. Meade and that is where they made their home and their first child was born. Clyde was working at Tiger Creek at the phosphate mine and when trouble broke out the family moved to Deland, in Volusia Co., where the remainder of their children were born. Alma had four children with Clyde, James, Helen, Clyde, Jr. and  Ralph.

 When Clyde died suddenly, Alma was left with four small children, all of whom were under the age of eight. She returned to Crystal River and two months later married an older man, whom she had known all of her life. David S. Bass was a widower. They were married at Inverness, FL on July 25, 1925. They had three children together; David, Jr., Alice and Midget, who was born premature and died. Alma’s youngest son from her previous marriage also died soon after her marriage to Dave.

Dave was into the family business of commercial fishing. They owned a houseboat and Alma said they would take the children over to the islands for a week at a time while Dave fished. “The kids would be walking the rails and hanging off the boat like little monkeys.”  She said later that she was too young to realize how dangerous it was. It was a happy time, but soon the depression hit and the family lost everything. Alma started doing washing for other people to help with their income, then Dave died suddenly with a ruptured appendix. Alma’s brother Grady “took the backseat out of the car and loaded Dave into it. They took Dave to the hospital in Ocala, but it was too late.” Again, Alma found herself alone with small children. She married Edward B. Roberts and they moved to Wall Springs, Pinellas Co. Her parents packed up the family belongings and went with them. By now Alma’s parents were ailing and needed her help. Ed and Alma had one child together, Edward, Jr.,but sadly he passed away a short time after his birth.

DS (David, Jr.), Alma’s child from her second marriage, was working on an orange grove when he lost his life from a terrible accident. While riding on the back of a watering truck his foot became entangled in the hose, whereby he lost his balance and was thrown underneath the truck. The truck ran over him fracturing his ribs and puncturing his lungs. He died the following day from massive blood loss. He was only seventeen! Another son, Clyde, was in the Army and stationed overseas when his wife left their infant son with Alma and left town. He received an emergency leave to come home and tend to the matter. Papers were drawn up placing the child in his grandmother’s care. Alma began pouring all of her love for her recently deceased son into her grandson, refusing to give him up when his father returned stateside.

A couple of years later, Alma’s son James passed away. He was working in Mobile, AL when he fell sick from a massive infection of his lungs. He came home, but never recovered his health. Her husband Ed became ill with tuberculosis and was sent to a sanitarium, where he was confined for a lengthy time before succumbing to the deadly disease. The cycle was repeating itself! Alma lost two children and a husband within five years along with the responsibility of another small child to raise.

She moved her family to Tarpon Springs and bought a large two story house and quickly rented out the upstairs for the income it would provide. She also worked at a laundry. Her daughter Helen and her daughter, Linda, were living with her as well as her grandson. Her daughter remarried and moved her new husband into the house so she could remain close to her mother, so that she could help with her needs.

Some of the children were alcoholics and when the family all got together; inevitably a big argument would ensue. Alma was always caught in the middle of her beloved children.

In November of 1957, Alma married Walter Simpson. The renters had become too difficult to control and were asked to leave. She needed the support of a husband. Little did she know the problems this marriage would bring. Her marriage was not good and her children were draining her. Her mother had moved into the main house as well, due to failing health and she was in an abusive marriage. Through it all Alma remained a loving caregiver. She was known fondly in the neighborhood as “Mama Alma.” She was the backbone of the family!

After her death on May 19, 1971, her children devastated, finally settled down as they felt their life’s blood drained from them. The one thing Alma wanted more than anything, she never saw come to pass, but ironically, it was her passing that brought about the changes in her children’s lives. Alma is buried in Cycadia Cemetry, Tarpon Springs, next to her son-in-law.

On a personal note: Mama Alma was not just my grandmother…she was my second mother. Had it not been for her, I doubt I would be here today. When I lay feverish, she was the one who gave me ginger-ale and stayed by my bedside. In the winter when it was freezing and we had no heat, she made sure I was tucked in tight (so tight I couldn’t move) with a heating pad under my feet and my great grandmother’s nightcap on my head along with her handmade quilt wrapped tightly around me. As I grew into a teenager, my friends would sit by her side, confiding family issues with her, trusting in her guidance. I remember the day I came home from school and she was so upset because the newspaper had called the band I was going to see that evening “animals.” She had bought me gold boots, a gold purse and a gold belt for the occasion. Somehow I was able to get out of wearing the outfit. Mama Alma was cool!



Author: Linda Flowers

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This Page Created October 16, 2010
Copyrighted 2010-   Linda Flowers    Updated: 12-22-2012
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