Sipple Stories

Pictures & stories of my Grandparents Joy & Adda Rockwell Sipple, their family and their ancestors.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Charles Martin Sipple

Charles was born September 7, 1912 in Grand Island, NE.
He was the first child born to Adda and Joy Sipple.

Charles is one of my most favorite uncles and I have almost always called him "Chick" as do his sisters Opal and Juleen, my Mother.

Here are some photos I have of Chick when he was a boy...

In February 2006 I interviewed Chick for this story. It was a fun afternoon and I learned a lot about him and the family. At this writing Chick is 94 years old and still lives on his own in the house he and his wife, Jocelyn, bought 49 years ago in 1957 paying $12,000. Chick says the house payments, including insurance and taxes were $100 per month. He does all his own yardwork, cleaning & cooking, laundry etc. He is a much better housekeeper than I am... His house is always immaculate and when you stop by he offers you drinks and sets out cookies on a plate or nuts in a dish, chips and salsa or whatever. Chick still goes to the YMCA several times a week to lift the weights and walk. He used to play handball there. To look at him, you'd never guess he is 93 going on 94 for he looks and acts like someone in his 60s or 70s.

I asked my Mother, Juleen, if she had any "stories" I could add about Chick... she said, "I don't have many stories because he was 7 years older than me and past the 'cute' age."

She did think of one...

Joy made wine and he kept it up on the closet shelf in their bedroom. Mother remembered one time when their parents were out of town for the weekend that Chick had some friends over for a party. Chick and his friends got into the wine and drank so much that they were all very sick, throwing up and staggering around. They had to walk one kid around the block to try to sober him up. Opal told me the same story but thought her Dad was just at work and their Mother out for the evening. She said the guys were throwing up all around the block.

Mother said that when she was just a teen, in that awkward gangly stage and was growing faster and taller than her friends, Chick told her, "always stand up straight, don't wear flat shoes just because you are tall, never be ashamed of your height"... and she never forgot that and always tried to stand up straight and be proud of her appearance just because of his advice.

Opal said Chick used to tease as all the boys did... one thing that he would do was to come into the door way and be grabbing himself around the neck and they would think someone else was there behind him choking him... They were always trying to scare each other. Opal said Chick "was the big cheese... got the first piece of dessert and the largest piece... because he was the oldest and number one son. One of his friends had an open touring car and they'd drive around in that car with Texaco hats on... hanging off of the running boards... hollering like in the Texaco radio ads."

Makes you wonder what stories Junior and Rex would have told about Chick... and Opal and Juleen too when their stories are published.

Chick has lived in Grand Island most of his life except for three years when the family lived in Ord, NE due to his father Joy's employment with the UPRR when Chick was a baby, a couple years after high school when he lived and worked in Colorado, Columbus and Hastings and then his time serving in the United States Army during WWII.

Chick graduated from Grand Island Senior High School in 1930.

After graduation Chick's first job was in a grocery store at 4th and Pine, Knickeram's Grocery Store. Then his Mother Adda's brother Jesse Rockwell got Chick a job in Lyman,Colorado. For a year and a half he worked part time in a grocery store there and was an apprentice mortician. He was 19 years old, he didn't like the mortician job and didn't like being on call 24/7. He got fired and came back to Grand Island.

One day Chick's Dad said to Max Greenberger, owner of Greenberger's a men's clothing store in Grand Island until the 1990's, "I have a son who's looking for something to do." Max said, send him on down and that began Chick's career in the clothing business. Later he was a manager trainee for Montgomery Ward working in Fremont, Sioux City and Columbus. He was supposed to be promoted to manager in a year but it wasn't happening so when he had an offer to go to Hastings and manage the men's department at Brach's Clothing, he jumped at it. Chick was working there when he was drafted into the Army and after his service went back to that job.

In 1958 Chick and Bill Curry had a chance to buy out Landen's in Grand Island which they did and opened Curry Sipple Men's Clothing on Third Street. They were in business for 20 years. When Chick was 65 he could see "the writing on the wall"... "the trend was for stores to move out to the malls and people were not dressing up as much." He thought he'd just take his social security and quit. He tried to sell the store but when it didn't sell he just closed it out.

While owning Curry Sipple Clothing, Chick wrote the script and did the voice for many clever radio ads... little stories... We always enjoyed hearing his voice come on the radio.

In 1942 Chick was drafted into the United States Army. December 10th he went to Ft Leavenworth, Kansas. December 18th he was shipped to Camp Fannin, Texas for basic training and then went to Advanced Communication School in Ft Benning, Georgia. In November of 1944 he was shipped over seas as a rifleman in the 7th Armored Infantry Division. Chick was a Private for 2 1/2 years, a Private 1st Class for 1 week, a Sergeant for 1 month, and then a Staff Sergeant the rest of his time in the Army.

Being in the armored infantry, Chick spent more time on the road moving from one place to another than in actual battle... But he did see quite a bit of action. Chick fought in the Battle of the Bulge in battles at Ardennes Forest and the Saar Valley. He was wounded twice by shrapnel. He says that he was shot at by snipers, by machine guns, artillery, mortar fire and airplanes and that soldiers in the next fox hole were killed on several occasions. He received a Bronze Star medal and a Combat Infantry Badge. He was eligible for the Purple Heart but says he "wasn't smart enough to claim it."

"I was cold, dirty, and hungry for .......(thinking of how long)... well, I left here (the states) in November, was in France for two months, lived in an old, old prison... there were rats in it... sanitation was non existent... it was cold and damp and dirty... just unbelievable to live that way. Then I was assigned to the armored infantry division... in the front line there were no amenities... we were out on the field for three more months, we ate in the field, and lived on the land, on the road... in barns or dugouts... wherever you could find a place to sleep. It was difficult times. I think I went for three months without a shower or bath. You'd come to a little town about the size of St Libory or Dannebrog and kick the people out of their homes and stay there for a few days... you never stayed very long."

After five months Chick was sent to Bremerhaven, Germany where he was in charge of the telephone office. The civilians ran it and he only had to supervise them.

Chick did have several 3 day passes or leaves while in Europe during WWII. He enjoyed a three day pass to Paris and two passes to Copenhagen. He liked Copenhagen quite a lot. Chick was discharged in January of 1946.

When I asked Chick for some memories of when he was a child, he said,
"I don't have any great memories...
the memories I have of my childhood are very sketchy...
the boys slept in the basement...
the basements were not finished in those days...
rafters in the ceiling, cement floor, no bathroom downstairs...
As I look back, we had a bad childhood...
I can never remember sitting on my Mother's lap...
My Dad never showed me how to fly a kite or cut a board
or anything else...
I remember that we'd get up from the supper table and leave and no one said 'where are you going?'... we'd just take off and that was it...
and I understand it, my Mother was overworked...
We had no car, there were no radios or TVs in those days...
Mother practically raised us by herself... Dad worked every night.
When we brought a report card home, they looked at it
but they never said, 'well that's good or that's not very good'...
and mine were never good!
I got 3s and 4s and once in awhile a 5. I never brought any homework home...
I wasn't going to be bothered with it. I didn't like school.
I was not an athlete.
I was not a good brother... we didn't go together or play together (Chick & his brother or sisters)...
I had a paper route from the time I was about 12 to 16. In those days, you had to go down to the paper office which was on Locust Street to get the papers before passing them out and then every week on Saturday collect for them. I made about $3 or $4 a week.
In those days you could buy a double decker ice cream cone or big candy bar for 5 cents.
It was hard times... really tough... just terrible...
Lots of people were worse off...
We always had a place to sleep and food to eat."

Charles married Jocelyn Harden January 8, 1938 in Lincoln, NE.

Jocelyn was born in York, NE and was the daughter of Irwin & Addie Hardin.

This is a picture of Jocelyn as a toddler.

Chick told me this story about how he and Jocelyn met:

"My close friend Bob Salyer had a date with Jocelyn and asked if I'd like to come along and go out with a friend of hers... so we double dated one night. I didn't like the friend very much but the next day I called Jocelyn up and asked her for a date. Evidently she didn't like Bob all that well because she accepted. I ended up marrying Joclyn and Bob married the other gal."

Chick and Jocelyn had one son Mark Martin Sipple who was born May 13, 1941 in Grand Island, NE.

Early photos of Mark...

Mark with me (Jodi) I'm sitting in the little wagon and on the rocking horse that my Daddy made me.

Mark grew up and attended schools in Grand Island, graduating from Grand Island Senior High School in 1959. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a law degree and is the senior partner in a five man law firm in Columbus, NE.

Mark was one of my sister, Jerri, and my favorite boy cousins. We sort of idolized him growing up and always wished for a bigger brother because of and just like him. Being 3 years older than me and 5 older than Jerri, and us being girls, he really didn't have much to do with us. He always had his own cool friends that would come over to play basketball or something after our families would share Thanksgiving dinner. He was such a cute little boy and then a handsome young man when in high school... while we were in that gangly, braces on our teeth junior high stage. One of our memories of going over to Chick, Jocelyn and Mark's house was that down in the basement they had the most elaborate train set. It was lots of fun to watch the trains going around the little village.

This is a picture of Chick with his youngest granddaughter Ireland.
Chick has 4 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren...
(more on them in another "story")

Chick said if he had any advice for the younger generation it would be "Prepare yourself!! Be ready for whatever comes along."