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Mollie "Babe" Dennis

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Mollie "Babe" Dennis

She was the last of six children, born August 12, 1920, near Hackett, Arkansas, to blacksmith Sam Clark and his wife Maggie, who had immigrated to America from Poland in 1890. The fact that she was the baby of the family earned her her nickname, and it was by "Babe" that she was known for most of the rest of her life.

Babe's earliest memory was of the commotion and terror that the steam whistle at the coal mine—where many of the men folk in the Ozarks where her home was worked—caused when it blew to signal an accident at the mine. Growing up during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years, she could also vividly recall groups of wandering people who would come to the small farm her family lived on ,seeking odd jobs to do in exchange for a meal.

Babe grew up, married her sweetheart Lloyd, and like so many others in that era, came out to California with her husband to seek a better life for themselves and for the family they began raising, getting here just in time for the outbreak of World War II. She and her growing family eventually settled in the then new community of Lakewood, where she lived in the same house for over half a century—a house she would make into a home and in which she took great pride.

The years rolled by, and Babe, a classic housewife and mother, did all the things such an individual did in those days. She sewed clothes for her family, saw that they were fed and presentable each day when they ventured into the outside world, and involved herself in their activities. She assisted her husband when he started his business, but also steadfastly cancelled out his votes for candidates in elections by casting hers for the Democrat while her husband (just as steadfastly) cast his for the Republican.

So, like so many others of what has been called "the greatest generation" of Americans, they raised their family, respected authority, paid their taxes, supported just about anything related to education and—in short—lived life. And they grew old. Lloyd suffered a stroke which left him wheel chair bound and unable to speak, but Babe, in spite of her own physical frailty, took care of him for six years until his death, heedless of the cost to her own health. Finally, having seen friends and family pass away, she had to leave her beloved home and move into an assisted living facility. Babe passed away September 25, 2013. She is survived by her three children, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and all their significant others—all better for her having been a part of their lives.

You will find no grand monuments to Babe or Lloyd. No poems written about them. No songs in their honor. Just simple markers in a cemetery field, occasionally noticed by casual passers-by or by those there bearing their own personal grief, perhaps curious about Babe's unusual nickname. But they—and many like them—were the ones who visited the monuments, read the poems, heard the songs, and without them, these would have had no life and no meaning.
Published in the Long Beach Press-Telegram on Oct. 20, 2013
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