Dan Birdwhistell

05/02/2016

The Five Moffett Girls and How They Grew

Another interesting memory. In the early 1930s the family’s cousin, Forrest “Aggie” Sale, became an outstanding basketball player at the University of Kentucky. Occasionally, Aggie’s parents, “Cousin Fauster” and “Cousin Mary” Sale would visit the Moffett home in an attempt to hear their son’s games on the radio. This began the girls’ long fascination with Kentucky basketball.

They were also fans of the local high school teams. When City High played in the Kentucky State Tournament in 1928, the team went to the semi-finals, where they were a heavy favorite over Carr Creek, a team from the mountains which had no indoor facilities to play in. “Mom” and “Daddy” drove to Lexington to see the game, leaving the girls under the care of “Aunt Liza” Rice, a black woman who lived with her husband on South Main Street. Unfortunately, City High lost to Carr Creek, 37-11. In March, 1930, Mr. Moffett took 'the girls' to a showdown game between Kavanaugh High and Lawrenceburg High at the district tournament in Frankfort. When the game went into overtime, the Moffetts had to leave, because Mr. Moffett had an insurance meeting later that evening. When they arrived home, "Mom' gave them the news that Kavanaugh had prevailed.

Meanwhile, the family needed more room than was available at 564 South Main, which they had purchased from the ‘heirs’ in 1936 upon the death of Rev. Moore. Several of the daughters would spend the nights next door at 566 South Main Street, with “Miss Georgie” (Mrs. Harry) Wise. Upon Miss Georgie’s death in the summer of 1938, the Moffetts bought her house and, after some serious “fix-up” work, moved next door to a much roomier setting in early 1939. The “girls” recall the excitement of the auction. When it was clear that the Moffetts had won the bid, the assembled crowd cheered. Their Lawrenceburg friends rejoiced that this beloved family finally had a house with enough room. “Mom’s” inheritance from her father’s estate made possible the purchase.

Meanwhile, Martha Moffett had graduated as valedictorian from City High in 1937, joining her older sisters in the work force, with a year of employment at the local Thread Factory, later joining the work force at the County Agent's Office in Lawrenceburg.

At this point the family experienced its greatest crisis up to this time. Frances, who had been the valedictorian at City High in the spring of 1939, went off to Eastern Kentucky College in the fall. Later in the semester, Mary Lois went to Richmond to visit her sister, driven by her new 'beau,' Carl Birdwhistell, only to find Frances very ill. They brought her back to Lawrenceburg, only to find out that Frances had a severe case of strep throat. With no suitable antibiotics available to fight the infection, this vibrant young woman died on January 14, 1940. In many ways, the family never recovered from this loss.

But life went on. Georgie graduated from City High in 1940, part of a brilliant class which also included W. J. Smith, George Gilbert, and "Pud" Goodlett. She went to work at the "Dime" Store downtown.

The other girls continued to work at their jobs, while Mary Lois continued a lively courtship with Carl Birdwhistell. As the family gathered at "Aunt Lucy" Hanks' house on Sunday afternoon, December 7, 1941, to celebrate "Mom's" forty-seventh birthday, they had no idea what lay ahead a few thousand miles west in Pearl Harbor.  This day ended the youth of the Moffett Girls and started a new era for the whole family and country.