Lorene Edith James & Deuard Hill

Thanks to Dolores Olsen, Jack James & Dorothy Reddell

 for photos and Ken Hill for story.

Go to: Main Menu, Lorene's Story or scroll down

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Lorene and Deuard Hill on their 50th anniversary, 1979

Click to enlarge photos

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1.  Lorene James' father was James Bowman James and her mother was James' first wife, Margie Dunn. 2.  Margie (right) and sister Vangy? Dunn. 3 J.B., and Margie at home in Kirkland Texas (now a ghost town). Lorene is peeking through the front door.

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1.  Lorene (left) and a cousin. 2. Lorene, Dorothy, and Ruby with fresh haircuts by J.B. 3.  Lorene (back middle) and Dorothy (front middle) with friends in Garden Valley Texas on the Culbertson Farm.

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1. Cotton was a way of life for the James family. When this photo was taken, Lorene's mother had already died giving birth to her seventh child and her dad had remarried to Ida Pearl Swann. The child on the left side of the cotton wagon is Dorothy James, first child of J.B. and Ida. Next is Ruby James, Lorene, and Henry Swann, Ida's brother. 

 2. Picking cotton on the Culbertson's farm in Childress TX. The J.B. James family share-cropped part of the Culbertson farm as did other members of his family. J.B.'s second wife, Ida, is holding daughter Dorothy. The lady in the bonnet is Mrs. Culbertson, owner of property. Ruby is under the hat, and Ida's brother Henry Swann is standing next to Lorene.   3.  Lorene, J.B., Ida, Dorothy, Esta & unknown 

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1. Dorothy holding first baby with Lorene and her children in Sacramento. 2. All the living James children at J.B.'s funeral in August, 1956. Standing: Dorothy, Esta Lee, Lorene, Leatrice, Rosa, and Ruby. Sitting: Otha, Ida, Artie. 3. Ruby, Lorene and Otha in 1986

Lorene Edith Hill


By Ken Hill


Lorene was born into a hard life in Northwest Texas in 1912. The youngest of five siblings, her natural mother, Margie (Dunn) James, died giving birth to her seventh child when she was only four years old. Her father, J. B. James, later married Ida Swann who had three more children.

J.B. taught music and took other work as necessary to support his family. The older James family children also had to work to help out, all quitting school early. Mom was lucky to complete the sixth grade. Most of the family had to labor long hours in nearby cotton fields to make a living.

 Mom met my father, Deuard Hill, in a West Texas cotton patch. When they married, she was seventeen and he was twenty-five. Mom worked in the fields until her first child, Dale, was born. She was nineteen. Dolores, my sister, was born four years later.

By this time, the Great Depression was well underway and the young family resided in the middle of the Dust Bowl. They left Texas for California in 1935 to seek a better life, following her father and stepmother who had already emigrated to Sacramento.

Dad initially found work in a local cannery. He later worked the shipyards in West Sacramento during World War II, and on gold dredgers in the foothills east of Sacramento. Dad finally found a steady job as a patch truck driver with the Highway Maintenance Department of Sacramento County in the late forties. He retired from that job in the mid-sixties due to poor health.

Mom was always a homemaker, although she did return to the fields to pick hot peppers for a number of harvests during the late forties and early fifties on Mr. Garibaldi's nearby Fruitridge Road farm. Not too long after their arrival in Sacramento, Mom and Dad were able to afford a small home in the Fruitridge area of South Sacramento. They raised their three children and lived the remainder of their lives in that Enrico Boulevard house. I was born there in 1943, their only child to be born in California.

 Although their lives were markedly better in California, Mom and Dad lived a modest lifestyle even during the best of times.

During my childhood, I remember my mother describing our family as "poor." Although in hindsight, I don't believe we really fit that description.

Even though money was not plentiful, my parents managed to provide the necessities, and sometimes more, for their children. Most importantly they instilled in us a strong work ethic, the value of education, positive moral values, and respect for all other people. We were loved and the fact that the three of us are living good productive lives and providing well for our own families is positive proof of their common sense parenting skills.

My mother was a child of the Great Depression and was raised in one of the hardest hit geographic areas of the United States. And, like most of those who came of age during that period, her life was permanently impacted by that experience. She endured hardship without complaint and seldom asked anyone for anything. She believed that good things would come from hard work and positive values. She was fiscally conservative to the point that she had difficulty spending money on anything that was not absolutely necessary. Especially when it came to spending it on herself for anything she considered fun or frivolity.

Mom was quiet and reserved yet caring and especially protective of the feelings of others. She never asked personal questions yet listened respectfully and with interest when information was willingly provided. I never heard my mother say anything negative or disrespectful about anyone. She firmly believed one should make only positive comments about others, or say nothing at all. She never made suggestions about how anyone should live their lives, or made judgmental comments about their behavior or lifestyle. Whenever I requested advice or feedback, she listened quietly (never interrupting) and replied that I should do whatever I thought best. She was a good person and a good mother. Mom was seldom effusive or critical other children's behavior, but was clear, in a mild mannered way, about behavior she believed was wrong. After we grew up, she supported all our decisions, even though she may have truly believed some could have been off course.

Mom enjoyed crocheting, sewing, canning, gardening, playing cards with her friends, corresponding with her family, attending church, riding her bicycle, walking in her neighborhood, and especially visiting with her close friends. In later life, when she could not get around easily, she was content to visit by telephone.

After my father died in 1982, my mother continued on resolutely and, although lonely, without complaint as usual. She was somewhat uncomfortable in social situations with people she did not know well, but after my father died she enjoyed visiting with fellow seniors at the nearby Fruitridge Community Center.

My mother died just after Christmas, on December 30, 2001, the way she lived--quietly and with dignity. She lived a long and good life. She loved deeply and was deeply loved in return by family and friends. She touched the lives of many in positive and meaningful ways.

The preceding testimony speaks to a life that was lived humbly, yet fully. I will always love her, and know she will always love me.

Ken Hill

January 1, 2002

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