Editor's note: This column was originally published in the Review-Miner on Sept. 27, 2012.



LINDEN, Texas - Last week you read about Gwen Hefner Lewis, P.C.H.S. Class of 1950 (who was smart enuff to graduate early, in 1949), of Oreana, and a little about her parents. Now you can read the very unique way her parents met and courted and fell in love in the little town I was born in, Clarendon, Texas.

Gwen's mother, Dolan Henderson, was born in 1913. Dolan's mother died when she was six years old during the great Flu Pandemic of 1919. (My mother's first two children died then also.)

Dolan was sent to Clarendon, Texas, to live with her grandmother and grandfather. Her father had been killed shortly before during the first World War, the "war to end all wars." At age 13, her grandmother died. That left a very strict and overly protective grandfather to raise the young teenage girl.

Gwen's dad, Andrew Hefner, worked at the Clarendon grocery store as a butcher. He was quite a few years older than Dolan, and they became acquainted at the store. Dolan was in high school, and was having problems learning math. Her grandfather found out that the butcher at the store, Andrew, was good at math. So he arranged for Andrew to come to their home and tutor his granddaughter in math.

The grandfather never left them alone for one second. He did not trust them. He was so strict with his granddaughter he would not allow her to even speak with a boy. He transported her to and from school in his car. She missed out on all the extracurricular activities at school.

Dolan was attracted to the young man who came to their home to tutor her. The attraction must have been mutual, because they yearned to talk or communicate in some way. But the watchful eye of the grandfather kept them apart after the tutoring ended.

Andrew learned the grandfather bought the meat and carried it home, but Dolan always put the groceries away at home. So he began writing her letters, and putting them in the meat wrappings. She would write him back, and a close friend at school would mail them for her. Through this correspondence they fell in love, and one day Andrew picked her up at school and they eloped. They drove to Roswell, New Mexico, to be married, since New Mexico did not require a waiting period like Texas did to be married.

The grandfather had everyone out looking for them. When they did return home, he was so angry he threw a butcher knife at Andrew, but missed. The newlyweds then moved far away to McAllen, Texas, which was almost a thousand miles. There they settled into what was to be a marriage like God wants it to be, till death parted them, and in their case, old age.

A few years later, when Gwen was still a baby, the grandfather showed up in McAllen and checked into a motel. He was quite ill, and died shortly afterward. He sent word to Dolan and Andrew that he wanted to see them once more. This time there was no butcher knives thrown, only friendly talk. Grandfather wanted to know how they had gotten to know one another since he was with them all the time, while Andrew was tutoring Dolan.

She said, "Well, Pappa, you were the one that carried our letters." He was very indignant, saying, "No, I did not. I'm smarter than that."

Dolan said, "I know you are smart, Pappa, but I was just a little smarter." Then she revealed to him how he had carried the love letters home to his granddaughter.

The old man died shortly after seeing them in McAllen. But he got to see baby Gwen, his great-granddaughter, and made peace on his death bed. He forgave Andrew for "stealing away" his granddaughter. And Andrew and Dolan Hefner had a long and loving life together, till death parted them.

Roy Bale can be reached via email at roybalemail@yahoo.com.