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 Thelma Blanche Andre <I>Franklin</I> Schambers

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Thelma Blanche Andre Franklin Schambers

  • Birth 8 Nov 1895
  • Death 3 Jul 1979
  • Burial Montebello, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 32180352

Thelma was the fourth of twelve children of Anderson and Blanche (Stone) Franklin. she was born November 8, 1895 in Blueridge, Texas. Thelma was named for both of her parents. Even though named Blanche Andrea, her mother called her Thelma after a character in a book she had been reading. Thelma remembered early years in Texas and picking cotton. She also had a vivid memory of her father pulling her across a river in a large bucket with a rope line as she hung on for dear life. She told her grandchildren (about a million times according to them) how she had taken too much syrup for breakfast one morning and left a very large pool of it on her plate. Her father saved the syrup for her to finish at lunch and dinner. Just syrup.
The family ended up in Duncan, Oklahoma by the time Thelma was 16. She had three beaus at the same time and said that the Franklin girls always had lots of suitors as they were the prettiest girls in Duncan, Oklahoma. At the age of 20, she was already employed but still living at home when she came home to an angry father. She and a young man had attended a movie without his permission and he took off his shoe and beat her unconscious. Soon she chose Sam to marry because of what she called 'his potential.' She had been a typist/stenographer for a lawyer when he had come in for legal advice and even though she had a sort of understanding with another suitor, that gentleman wanted his mother to live with them after they married. Thelma used to chuckle that this potential mother-in-law lived to be in her 90's and that she had chosen well. Just mentioning her twelve years with Sam would brighten her up.
Thelma and Sam were married nine years before their only child, Billy, was born. During the baby's birth, her husband and parents were told that she was most likely going to die. They had already used two entire bottles of ether on her. Thelma said that they had to injure her and the too-large baby just to bring him into the world. The doctors could not understand how she lived through the birth and told her and Sam not to have any more children. Thelma was terrified of becoming pregnant again and alienated her husband. She felt that she was partly to blame when he was murdered by his mistress in 1927. Billy was three. She was working as a waitress when his brother Frank came rushing in with the news. She told her granddaughter years later how important the three days were that she could talk to Sam before he died and how she still missed him over 50 years later.
She dropped their son off with her parents and went to Chicago to see her sister Donna and look for work. About 1930, she remarried to an oilman named Gilbert. She left him after five weeks due to a violent argument over child rearing.
She and her sisters took the train and attended the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, saving a program which she gave her granddaughter. She mentioned in 1934 she was working as a cook at the Lyon's Hotel in Walters, Oklahoma while her cousin Eva and her husband Charlie Barger spent nights in his fields with two quilts. He lost his farm, was relocated to Carlsbad, New Mexico and traveled to El Paso., arriving in L.A. by bus. They walked 6 miles with shopping bags to get to Margaret's house in L.A. and that is how she managed to end up living the rest of her life in California.
Before World War 2, she was living with her son in LaCrescenta while he attended high school. During the war she got a job as a cook for the nurses and doctors with the Army at Elmendorf, Alaska. She mentioned that she had to sometimes take her glass eye out to warm it so it wouldn't crack from the cold up there. She had said that she lost her eye to disease when she was a very young woman and that she had refused to get it replaced with a glass eye for over a year. She wore a patch and finally her family talked her into getting an eye; her initial thought was that the patch looked better! Thelma mentioned that in the early days, she would have to wait six hours while an artist hand painted her glass eye to match. By the 1970's, the new plastic eye took less than two hours and was a perfect match.
Thelma met her last husband at Elmendorf. He was 20 years junior to her and they would spend the next thirty years together. Thelma worked as a cook when they first moved back to LaCrescenta. She said she spent six months working for one cafe just so she could steal the meat loaf recipe (the secret ingredient was sausage!). She then promptly quit and she and Ray started their own cafe.
Eventually she didn't have to work anymore as Ray was doing very well as a carpenter. She had a love for crossword puzzles and wore out her dictionary. She didn't believe in organized religion; however, did read the Bible. Her family was very important to her and she stayed close to her sisters and brother. Thelma had her father living with her for awhile before he decided he would stay with Joan and her husband. She got to meet her only great-grandchildren when they were infants and lamented that her severe emphysema taxed her strength and stopped her from being able to pick up even the eighteen-month old.
Her granddaughter's husband, John Beaver, met Thelma after they were married a few months and hit it off. She showed him her 1968 California Special GTS Mustang and he went over to his Volkswagon Beetle and kicked it. Thelma was called "The Little Old Lady from LaCrescenta" for driving such a power car. Thelma said that the grocery clerks would take bags out for her and would keep repeating, "This is YOUR car?" When Thelma had John take a meat loaf out of her freezer so she could prepare he and Margie dinner, he asked Thelma, "What happened? Why can't your granddaughter cook?" She was remembered for her handmade flour tortillas and burritos but could also make great meat loaf. Thelma was leathery skinned from her decades in the sun but loved the desert climate. Her home sat on one of two lots; the other lot was a giant cactus garden that people would drive by to view. She had it appraised in the 1960's for over $10,000 due to her collection (not all legal) of so many rare varieties. She would eat lemons straight from the tree, laughing when her grandchildren reacted with contorted expressions. They would watch her weeding her cactus garden and bet whether she would ever back into her giant barrel cactus. She never did. When her granddaughter told her years later about this, she exclaimed that she hadn't realized how ornery her grandkids were.
Thelma was a honest and caring person who liked to scare the neighborhood children into thinking she was mean. When her grandchildren visited one summer, neighbor children could not believe that Thelma could be a grandma. She made a neighbor boy return the ants he was taking out of an ant hill outside her yard. "I told him to put them back because they were my ants!" she recounted to her granddaughter. She didn't dislike children, she just didn't want the neighbor children to be in her garden and yard. Thelma was very special to her son and granddaughter and very, very missed. Thelma passed away at the age of 83 after a 20 year struggle against emphysema. She had smoked five packs of Camel cigarettes a day for years and said she still craved them even when she was on oxygen. She was cremated and Ray kept her ashes in the house until his death. After Ray died, his niece put Thelma's ashes into Ray's coffin. The tombstone has both of their names.

Gravesite Details Thelma's ashes are inside her husband's coffin.
  • Created by: Margie von M
  • Added: 
  • Find A Grave Memorial 32180352
  • Margie von M
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thelma Blanche Andre Franklin Schambers (8 Nov 1895–3 Jul 1979), Find A Grave Memorial no. 32180352, citing Resurrection Cemetery, Montebello, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Margie von M (contributor 47028174) .