From an interview with Helen Osterhaut about Leora
Helm and Arthur Helm, son and daughter of Allen Helm Jr.
Some of what I remember most are Auntie Leora and Uncle
Artie saying that their father Allen Helm Jr. was a knife man; he carried a
knife in his boot and used it.
Uncle Artie wasn't much for violence, but Auntie always
carried a knife. I don't know if anyone ever knew that. Auntie had a knife
with her at all times.
Auntie carried a knife to cut off her chewing tobacco.
She chewed tobacco for years and years and nobody knew. She always had a plug
of tobacco. She had a little tiny knife. I have it now. She carried it in her
apron pocket. The other knife she carried some place on her where she could
defend herself. Auntie said she always wanted to be a man because men had a
better shake in life then a woman did. Uncle Artie he was more an artist.
Leora died when she was 101. I think that she would have
lived longer had she not started feeling sorry for herself. As long as she was
going to church and worked in her yard, until she was about 100. She worked
the crossword puzzle every night; that kept her mind sharp. When Uncle Artie
moved in with her she started feeling sorry for herself.
Auntie thought she had to take care of him. He wanted
her to go on to church. She just didn't know what he'd do. She went to the
doctor and told him how bad that he (Artie) was. Finally she had a little fall
and the doctor put her in the hospital. She just cried about having to go
home. So he said to send Uncle Artie back to his family in Orosi. He then put
Auntie in a convalescent hospital, the La Sierra in Merced. Neither one of
them made it out of there. They sent Uncle Artie to a convalescent home in
I personally think that she would have been fine had she
stayed home. She was sharp and up and active all the time. It seems if they
don't have too much stimulation and it is just day in and day out. When she
was in the convalescent hospital one of the women got in her dresser drawer
and Auntie jumped on her and got in a fight. She was fighting for her things.
The woman kicked out after Auntie had her down breaking Auntie's hip so she
had to have a pin put in her hip. She never got out of the wheelchair.
Now Auntie was a big woman, the Turner's were much
smaller people. She was feisty and big boned a Helm through and through.
Auntie was living at 1406 E. Alexander in Merced when Artie came to live with
Uncle Artie and Auntie were born in Whitlock one mile
outside of Mariposa. That is where their father Allen Helm Jr's mine was,
Whitlock. The old home place in Whitlock was sold to George Ivers who owned
Ivers and Alcorn Mortuary. They then moved to White Rock for a long while.
When they moved to White Rock, Oriole, my grandmother, was born. Then Auntie,
after her father died, moved into Le Grand by then she married Uncle Nick,
Nicholas Turner. I think from what I understand, he was the janitor of two
schools, Le Grand Elementary and the high school. After he passed away Auntie
just begged for that job and she got the job as janitor.
She was janitor there and was the only woman to do that
type of work at the time. Auntie was the main stay of the family at that time.
That was with the depression and everything and everybody lived there. She had
a house on Washington street in Le Grand. It is still standing. All the family
at one time or another lived with her and worked out of her home and did what
they could. She just kept the family together
Contributed by: Carol Lackey