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A Short Romance Part III

Updated on March 24, 2012


Armistice happened on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, yet it would still take until 1919 to fully understand the agreements and new duties that the allies had put in place. Germany was beaten. This leaves Charles, wounded but alive, ready to leave France and re-enter the States with new interests. Charles, like so many, had come from a quiet rural life. One can only wonder about how his life had changed. Being in the first world war, transported half way around the world, seeing more history, art and culture in a few years than in an entire life. We do know one thing - It would be hard to go home to the same life. One of the favorite war time tunes "How ya gonna keep them down on the Farm" (after they seen paree) was a smash hit and appropriate for the time. What we don't know is how Charles and Olive actually met. That has been lost to time.

Who finds Whom

Sometime between 31 May 1919 (news paper banner at the top) and 31 August 1920 (date of the article to the right) Charles came home. I can only imagine that the first aid bandage that Olive had carefully wrapped met Charles sometime shortly before Armistice and the end of the war. Even though the war was over in 1818, Pershing and his "Occupying Forces" remained to see Armistice carried out. Charles would have stayed in what they call the first extension and then headed home in 1919. The article to the right says that Olive had a photo of him and fell in love. I can only assume that they secretly wrote back and forth for a short time. He from France and she from New York. Maybe she even had clandistine phone calls at her job with the phone company. I envision her with a long line of operators, all switching calls, and her blushed face as Charles phones to talk to the operator.

Charles came home... and apparently Olive was there to meet him. There is no evidence that he came home to a great parade down the mainstreets of New York or just quietly and met by a single young lady. Olive snuck away one week to see him home and was married the next week. One thing is clear, the address she had tucked into the first aid bandage had found its mark. "CASTILE AGOG OVER ROMANCE"

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

The information that I could gather indicates that Kansas was a point of discharge for the Army. So Charles would go on to Kansas to be formally and honorably discharged and Olive would follow in a few weeks. Charles had a few skills including farming and ranching. Olive had never had to earn enough to take care of herself. After the war and after what must have been a long talking to by her father it would be hard to figure out where to go. There was no going back to New York and so they went forward to California. Charles' mom ran a boarding house and his step father had his hands full with the farm. Mr and Mrs Charles Hayes would settle in Clovis Ca. In 1920, the self named Peggy, was barely 19 and used to excitement, society, and doing what was fun. The first child of the marriage died several days after birth but the second born in 1926 would survive. The war was over and many young men flooded the cities in search of work that didnt include the farm or a ranch. Anything to stay clean and dry as war really is a dirty business. Charles and Peggy always seemed to get by with what they could make or earn on their own. The Great Depression, like darkness, boredom, and missery started in 1929. Charles lost most of what he had except his army pension and Peggy began to take over support of the household. In the early 1930's there seemed little a war vet could do to stay employed and the relationship slowly eroded. Peggy and Betty would end up moving to SOCAL for awhile before moving back to Fresno. Charles would remarry and have two additional children that are alive today. Who can say why we live the lives we live or make the decisions we make. Both Charles and Olive got what they wanted - change, to be part of the excitement, and to be self sufficient in a time of uncertainty.

Peggy and Charles

Art was a large part of both families. Art can mean many different things. Lysander Barber had continued the business of making elixers. The products were titled Bliss Native Herbs. Peggy cooked and after her divorce with Charles opened Peggy's Country Kitchen in Fresno. During the years following the depression she would feed the hobo's with "left overs". Charles loved to draw. Planes and cars were his favorite. Anything new and exciting. The pastel of Olive Lillian Hayes is facinating. Peggy and Charles did attend speak easy's in Fresno, along the California Delta, and near Russian River. Even short torrid escapes from the darkness and anger of disappointment were welcome. The date of the pastel is around 1921. Vibrant and colorful, Peggy is depicted as a Flap Dancer. Which is good because this was one of her escapes. Yet there is a darkness about the pastel. Was it the whorl wind romance, was it a darker side of Charles or a darker side of Peggy that Charles was capturing. Or was it a feeling of the unknown. Charles' father had not done well with his family and left when the kids were 5 and 7. Loss of a child and the depression would be un-nerving for anyone. Or is the darkness in the pastel just the responsibility half of escape? No one will ever know. We do know that the years following "A Short Romance" were some of the hardest for most Americans.


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    • baref profile image

      baref 6 years ago from orangevale, ca

      I would love this to be a movie someday... Its high time for more romance and the 1920's were a great era.