Thelma Faye Tapp Gallentine
Thelma Faye Tapp Gallentine was born on Nov. 4, 1910 in Champaign IL, about 100 miles south of Springfield IL, to Cornell and Millie (Pilcher) Tapp. Her brother Arthur (Art) was 15 months older. Her sister, Daisy, was born 18 months later. In 1912 the family moved to a farm near Grand Island NE because of her father's health. Here, The Cornell as her father was known, did dray work. It was also where Thelma started school at the age of 4. When her brother enrolled in the one room school, the teacher asked that Thelma also attend because she had very few students. Thelma refused to attend the first day, but did accompany her brother after that. The family moved into town when Thelma was in the first grade. She remembers that first day of first grade also. After school she walked right by her home and ended up in downtown Grand Island. The police found her and had to bring her home.
When Thelma was in the fourth grade the family moved to Clayton Kansas where her father established a road building company. She graduated from the eighth grade in 1925 and from Clayton High School in 1929. High school subjects includes two years of Latin, English and math. She was a forward on the Clayton High School girls basketball team all four years. Thelma enjoyed her school years, though General Science her senior year was not a favorite subject. Thelma remembered the time a group of students decided to play hooky from school when she was a senior. They left school at noon and went down to the local grocery store for some food. The afternoon was spent along the creek. When the superintendent discovered the students missing, he called their families. Although Thelma was not punished, she did loose a percentage off her grades. She was still able to graduate valedictorian of her class of four girls and three boys.
Thelma was expected to help out at home. Spankings were still a method of punishment in Thelma's day and her father insisted on proper behavior. Her mother on the other hand believed in a good shaking. When her parents purchased the hotel in Clayton, she helped with the cleaning and cooking. During her senior year in high school she stayed with John and Zoe Gallentine in order to drive their daughter, Lora, to and from school in their new Model A Ford. Thelma knew how to drive because her dad had taught her to operate their model T Ford. In addition to transporting Lora, she helped Zoe with the other children, Norman and Vanetta.
Music was always a large part in Thelma's life. Her father believed that music was important and Thelma took piano lessons from several local ladies for many years. The day she came home from school and found the new piano her dad had bought for her in the living room (replacing the old pump organ) was a day she never forgot. She had the piano for many year before giving it to her daughter, Delores. Thelma could perform on the violin or as well as the piano. She, her brother and sister were members of a local orchestra which played for area dances. In addition Thelma sang for many, many funerals and gave piano lessons to her family and neighbors.
After graduating from high school, Thelma taught for four years, all in one room school houses. In those days a one month Normal Training course qualified teachers for the profession. Thelma attended this schooling in Norton KS for two summers. Her first teaching experience was at the Gallentine School, #97, in Decatur County, followed by two years at the Good Hope School south of Clayton in Norton County Kansas. Her final year of teaching occurred at the Buzzard Roost School north of Clayton in Norton County. She told many stories about her years in the teaching profession. She had as many as 38 students in all 8 grades, including several seventh and eighth graders larger than herself. She said that they were all good kids, however. In order to graduate, students had to go to the county seat to pass a test. Her students worked very hard for the examination and she promised, if they all passed, she would hold their graduation in their school. When everyone did pass, she invited the county superintendent, Byron Salisbury, to give the address and Thelma and a friend sang. In gratitude the families of one district gave her a friendship quilt which she treasured the rest of her life.
The Good Hope School District had a tradition of inviting the teacher to stay a night at each home. Thelma enjoyed this experience, including the time she spent a night with a family with eight children. The house was small and she had no idea where she was going to sleep. However, after a wonderful supper served at the large table, some of the children slept on the floor and she was bedded down with two of the younger girls. In the morning, the mother served a huge breakfast and fixed everyone, including Thelma, a lunch to take for the noon meal. Although the family didn't have much, and the home was sparsely furnished, they shared what they had. Thelma was made to feel very welcome and she never forgot their hospitality.
Thelma married Ivan Gallentine on August 6, 1932 by the justice of the peace in the courthouse in Colby Kansas with her sister, Daisy, matron of honor. Ivan and Thelma had started dating when she was a freshman in high school and had been going together off and on ever since.
The Gallentine's first home was located a mile north and a mile west of Clayton where Ivan farmed. They had three children; Delores (Slipke), John and Jerry. In 1947 they purchased a house from Ivan's brother Jim, located a mile north and one quarter mile west of where they were living. After moving they did extensive remodeling. Thelma lived here until moving to Cedar Living Center in Oberlin Kansas in 1993 when her health failed.
Thelma was active in her community. It was before the time of school buses and Thelma was paid to take her children and the neighbor children to and from school in Clayton every day. She was a member of the Clayton School Board for three years. During this time she made several trips to Topeka to fight to keep the Clayton School from closing. During the 1950's the town of Clayton organized and ran an R.C.A. approved rodeo and Thelma was on the Clayton Rodeo Board. She was an active member of her church. Then, in 1951 Thelma had surgery in Denver to remove a kidney. Because the doctors told her to slow down she had to give up some of her activities.
Thelma had many interests and hobbies. She had a large collection of tea cups. She liked to bowl and was on bowling teams in both Oberlin and Norton Kansas. The entire Gallentine family enjoyed reading and Thelma checked out books from the Clayton Library every Saturday when the children were growing up. She was a beautiful seamstress, making all of the children's clothes with a treadle sewing machine. Thelma enjoyed crocheting and giving afghans to her family and friends. She was know for her cooking. The family always requested her homemade noodles, chocolate cake and pumpkin pie for family dinners.
When Ivan's health began to fail in the 1960's, she devoted her life to his care. In 1978 Ivan moved to Cedar Living Center in Oberlin and Thelma drove the 20 miles every day to visit him. He died in 1982. After his death, Thelma continued to live on the farm. She enjoyed the local women's clubs in Clayton and Norcatur and attended the Senior Citizen's groups in Clayton, Jennings, and Norcatur with her special friend Tic Nelson from Jennings Kansas.
Because of failing eye sight and a broken pelvis, Thelma moved to Cedar Living Center in December 1993. Thelma died on April 13, 1997 and is buried in the Clayton Cemetery.
Thelma had a wonderful personality. She never met a stranger. She was a natural leader and all who knew her, loved her. Family was very important to Thelma and she loved to have them visit.
She was a farm wife and much, much more.
If you have remembrances or stories about Thelma that you would like to share, we would like to hear from you. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Volpe Gallentine