Nita Carnley will become 93 this Saturday, July 5, 2014. She was raised on a farm and loved to work with flowers. She also grew large vegetable gardens. She moved into Memorial Place Assisted Living about two years ago.
She overcame knee surgery, and is up and going on her walker with wheels. In cooperation with Nancy Brooks, the Activities Coordinator LVN at the Assisted Living Center, Nita has planted and tended several large flower pots on the patio at the facility. She makes her rounds three times a day to make sure her flowers are doing alright.
This lady was born in Parker County 12 miles north of Weatherford, in 1921. Her family lived on a farm owned by her grandfather. It was so far out in the country she said the whippoorwills would come and call every evening to tell them when it was suppertime.
Her parents were Richard and Susie Durham. She is a cousin to Myrdise Durham a longtime resident of Seminole. Her dad and his dad were brothers.
Nita started school at Toto, a little two teacher school out in the woods in Parker County. She went to the sixth or seventh grade. There was a school bus which came out from Poolville to take the high school students to Poolville High School, but her dad was of the notion when girls learned to read and write they didn't any further education. So she quit school and worked on the farm until she married.
Ernest Carnley's family moved from Olney to the neighborhood where the Durhams lived. It wasn't long until Ernest and Nita got acquainted and started dating and they were married in 1939. Their marriage lasted 67 years until his death in 2007.
Nita was an only child until she was 10-years-old when her sister, Mary (now, Mary Collier) was born. Mary now lives in Crane.
Nita played softball after school when she was young and she said she thought she was pretty good at it. There weren't enough students to play any other kind of sport in school.
Her folks lived on her grandad's farm where they raised cotton until the boll weevils got so bad they switched to raising peanuts.
Her granddad moved to Sweetwater and then to Brownfield. Her folks soon followed.
Her husband, Ernest, always wanted to be a farmer. An uncle came in 1941 and got them to move them to Brownfield. They loaded everything they owned into his old Ford pickup and headed west. Ernest wasn't able to buy land, but he rented land and did pretty well farming.
Dennis Q. Lillie the FHA Administrator got them a loan and instructed them to buy a tractor, a milk cow, a pig and a pressure cooker so Nita could can vegetables. She said she still had the pressure cooker, and it still worked when she sold out and moved into the Assisted Living two years ago in October..
They always had two or three cows for milk, and what milk they had left over from what they needed, they fed to the hogs. Nita said, "The hogs liked it really well, and grew big.' They were used for meat, and they raised a big garden from which Nita canned lots of vegetables, so they fared well.
They started farming in Brownfield, but moved around quite a bit. They lived in Plains, and in Higginbotham, in Lamesa (for six years), and in Seagraves.
Nita said they never got hailed out while farming, but the wind was their worst enemy. The blowing sand often caused problems.
The Carnley's had two sons. Their oldest, Ernest Garland, lived to be 27, at which time he and his seven-year-old son, Keith, were drowned while fishing in Lake Travis. His widow, Lynda, lives in Monahans.
Their other son, Fred (Freddie), was born in 1945 and died of cancer in 2012. He and his wife, Audria lived in Seminole. Audria is retired and still lives in Seminole.
Freddie and Audria's oldest daughter, Tracy is unmarried and lives in Hughes Springs, in far east Texas.
Their son, Troy and his wife Randi live in Lubbock.
Their other daughter, Trudy and her husband Ricky Taylor also live in Hughes Springs.
Nita has six great grandkids and four great-great-grand kids.
Nita's husband, Ernest loved to fish and camp. When he retired they bought a camper and they spent a lot of time in it.
They liked to go to northern New Mexico where the Pecos and Morro rivers converge and fish for trout. They also went to Graham where they fished from the old bridge on Salt Creek. They fished mainly for crape, but also for catfish, there.
For a while they lived two miles across the state line into New Mexico. They lived near the Lawerance Gin and went to church at the Bethel Baptist Church. She now belongs to the First Baptist Church in Seagraves.
When Ernest retired from farming he went to work at the salt plant at Cedar Lake. They moved from there back to Seagraves to be near and see after Nita's aged parents. They bought a house in Seagraves.
When Freddie became ill they sold their house and moved to a place where Jack Hamelton's Flying Service used to be, two miles this side of the New Mexico state line, to be near Freddie.
From there they moved back to Seagraves, into Pillow's Trailer Park. Nita busied herself raising flowers at the park. She always raised flowers and vegetables, so it was only natural for her to take over the care and keeping of her flowers at Assisted Living.
Nita said she never thought much about living so long. Neither of her parents lived to be of great age, but her dad's mother raised 13 children and lived to be 92.
She said when she first came to this part of the country she had never seen such pretty crops. It was the first time she had seen short milo with crooked heads. She added, "They didn't fertilize or water and yet had beautiful crops. Today it is not like it used to be."
While living in Brownfield she heard stories about Seagraves. Seagraves was wet, meaning they sold liquor there and apparently had a reputation of being a wild town. Brownfield was dry. From the stories she heard she said, "We were afraid to go to Seagraves."
Then one day they heard the popular western film star, Lash La Rue, was to appear in Seagraves, and they mustered the courage to go.
Lash LaRue had exceptional skills with an 18 foot bullwhip, hence the name "Lash". He taught Harrison Ford to use a bullwhip in the Indiana Jones movies. LaRue put on demonstrations on the stage of the movie theaters and people realized he could actually do the things they saw him do in the movies. He became very popular.
While walking through a hallway pursuing her little son, Nita encountered Lash LaRue and he spoke to her.
Nita's son was so impressed with Lash LaRue he started trying to use a bullwhip and "messed up some things around the house." One particular incident upset his mom when he ripped a hole in the bottom out of one of their good kitchen chairs. He got in trouble for it.
One of Nita Carnley's deepest regrets is, "All of my friends and family members are gone, (deceased)." Nevertheless she continues tending her flowers and keeping things beautiful for those around her.