|ALMA LEE BLACK|
Alma was born November 18, 1901 in Crystal River, Florida to the parents of Jacob and Alice (Martin) Black. She had two older half brothers...Carl and Willie and two younger brothers...Grady and Albert, who died as an infant. She also had a sister Hazel who died at the age of twelve. The family engaged in commercial fishing and Alma took instinctively to the water.
When Alma was about fifteen the family moved for a short time to Haines City, Florida where she met and married Clyde Walker at the age of fifteen. Clyde was from Ft. Meade and this is where they started their family life together. Alma's first child James was born in Ft. Meade. The family was living in Tiger Bay, a phosphate mining town, where Clyde was employed. Troubles broke out in the camp and the family packed up their belongings and moved to Deland, where they were to have three more children...Helen, Clyde and Ralph. When her youngest child was just a toddler, Clyde suddenly died. Alma was frightened! She was alone with four small children far from her family. She went back to her home town of Crystal River. There she quickly married an older man, Dave Bass, whom the family had known since Alma was a child. He had recently been widowed and having no children of his own was grateful to have a ready made family. He and Alma went on to have three of their own children together...David, Midget and Alice. Midget was born premature and died a couple of days later. A short time after her death, Alma's son Ralph passed away from a suspected case of Maleria.
Dave Bass was also a commercial fisherman and the family spent a lot of time on the water. They often went to the islands for fishing as well as pleasure. Apparently Shell Island was quite the get-away in those days! They family often spent a week at a time camping and fishing. They owned a houseboat and Alma said they would load up the children and head for the island with "the kids hanging off the rails like little monkey's". She said later she was too young to realize how dangerous it was. It was a happy and peaceful time for Alma, but soon The Great Depression came and the family lost everything. Alma was forced to do laundry for others to help with the family income, then Dave died suddenly from a ruptured appendix. Again Alma found herself alone... with small children to raise. She had lost two children and a husband within a few short years.
Alma married a third time, to Ed Roberts, who was from Pinellas County. They soon moved, settling at Wall Springs, a small community just south of Tarpon Springs. Her parents were aging and made the decision to relocate also. Ed and Alma had a child a short time after their move to Pinellas County, but he also passed away, a few hours after his birth.
About a year after their move to Pinellas County Alma's father died. His body was taken back to Crystal River for burial. Her mother got restless and started traveling around the state visiting various relatives, and her husband went into the hospital after contracting Tuberculosis. He was there for an extended amount of time before his death. Alma's son David (DS), was working on an orange grove when he was killed in a tragic accident. While riding on the back of a watering truck a hose wrapped around his leg and he was pulled underneath the vehicle and was run over. His lungs were punctured. He was only seventeen and preparing to join the Merchant Marines. Another son Clyde was in the Army and out of the country when his wife left their young child with her and fled the area with another man. Clyde obtained an emergency leave of absence and returned stateside long enough to legally place his mother as guardian over his son. Alma adored her grandson. Her anguish at loosing a son was being replaced with the love of this child who would remain with her into adulthood. She couldn't give him up and her son couldn't ask her to. During this same period of time James, Alma's first born, passed away...the day after Christmas. It seemed Alma was not to find happiness or peace for any stretch of time.
She moved her family to Tarpon Springs and bought a large house, quickly renting out the upstates for added income. She had gone to work in a laundry, but it was not enough to sustain her family. Her daughter Helen and Helen's daughter were living with her...as well as her grandson. Alma's daughter married and moved her husband into the house so she could help with the family income and care for her mother. More often it was Alma who was seeing to the needs of others.
Some of Alma's children were alcoholics and when the family got together there was always a big argument or fight that pursued. Alma was always caught in the middle of her beloved children. Her hard life and the domestic problems were taking its toll on her.
In November of 1957, She married again...to Walter Simpson. The renters had become to difficult to control and were asked to leave. Alma felt she needed the emotional and financial support of a husband. Little did she know the problems this marriage would bring. Her health was not good and her children were draining her. Alma's mother had moved into her home due to her own failing health. Her husband was extremely emotionally abusive to her. I remember one time in particular when he came in from siting in the yard in the warm sun. It was winter and the only heating was from a kerosene heater. Only one room was able to be kept warm. It was freezing and Alma was trying to stay warm near the only heat source. He made her put the fire out! She didn't have the ability to sit in the sun all day doing nothing! Another time she awoke and realized something wasn't right with her health. He refused to take her to the hospital. She placed a call to her daughter at work who rushed home and took her, She was having a heart attack! She made me promise not to tell anyone of his refusal to get her help, and she never mentioned it again. Through it all, she remained a loving care giver.
Alma was known fondly in the neighborhood as "Mama Alma". She was the backbone of the family. She died May 19, 1970 from a fall in the yard. After her death, the children found themselves devastated at the loss of their mother. They finally settled down. Their life's blood drained from them! The one thing Mama Alma wanted more than anything...she never saw come to pass, but...it was her passing that brought about the changes.
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 side. 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 even move...with a heating pad under my feet, my great granny's night cap on my head and the quilt she made wrapped around me. As I grew into a teenager, my friends would sit by her side confiding their troubles to her, trusting in her guidance. I remember the day I came home from school and she was upset . I was planning on going to a concert and she had read an article in the paper calling the band I would be seeing...animals. I had to explain...they were actually called "The Animals". She had bought me gold boots and a gold belt along with a gold purse for the occasion. I managed to get out of the house without having to wear it, but she was "cool". I miss her terribly.
Alma is buried at Cycadia Cemetery in Tarpon Springs.
Author: Linda Flowers
Photo © Linda Flowers