Sidney Joseph Bell
- Born: Sep 20, 1915, Baldwin, Florida
- Marriage: Katherine Marie Nelson on Jan 16, 1942
- Died: Sep 17, 1974 at age 58
"My father, Sidney Joseph Bell"
by Deborah Lynn Bell
Sidney Joseph Bell was born September 20, 1915 in Baldwin,
Florida and died September 17, 1974. We buried him on his
birthdate in Jacksonville, Florida. He was the youngest of 14
children born to Daniel E. Bell who was born December 24, l860 in
Duval County near Clay County and died January 25, 1925. He was
a farmer. Sidney's mother was Ella Oliver who was born January
30, 1872 in Duval County, Florida and died October 9, 1952. She
was a homemaker and telephone operator in her home.
Mr. Bell (my grandfather) is buried in the Bell Cemetery
which is located in Clay County, Florida. I don't ever remember
going to the Bell Cemetery - it was pretty far out in the county
and I think was probably inconvenient to get to and not
maintained like it should have been. My grandmother Ella is
buried in Jacksonville Memorial Garden Cemetery as are so many of
my relatives on my father's side. I remember attending a lot of
funerals as a kid - to me it was just another family reunion
because most of those dying while I was so young, I didn't know
or don't remember. On my grandmother's side is believed Dutch
ancestry. On my grandfather's side is his mother Hettie who was
born January 8, 1840 and died November 18, 1913 and his father,
my great-grandfather, Daniel Bell who was born June 9, 1836 and
died November 2, 1902. My grandmother died 43 years ago and my
grandfather died 70 years ago. I tried to obtain any information
about them but there is none to be found yet. I applied for a
census through the Mormon church but have not received the
information yet from Duval County in Florida. The only name
listed in the database at the Mormon church is the death date of
my father. There is only one living sibling of my father's -
Ethel Altman, who is 85 years old. She was unable to provide me
with any information about her mother or father or grandparents.
My aunt did relate to me however, that she is mad at my Dad for
leaving her (he died 21 years ago) and now there is no one to
come to her funeral.
In my father's family were seven sons, then six daughters
and then my Dad was the baby. I never knew any of my father's
brothers, but knew all of his sisters. I will address this later on.
My mother related the following information to me. My
father was nine years old when his father died. His mother
divided up the inheritance among the brothers and sisters with
the exception of the last two sisters who were still young. She
used the rest of the money to raise them. My mom said this was
the reason Dad was always so frugal in his life is because there
was very little money growing up and he always resented his
mother giving away what she should have kept for herself and him
and his sisters.
On occasion my Dad would help his mom and sisters with the
switchboard that they operated in their house, known as an
exchange house and would put calls through. My mother told me it
was like the television show "Green Acres" where the hotel owner
lady would answer the calls and then sometimes listen in. This is
one way they could earn money.
My mom told me that my Dad was very close to his Dad and
when his father would come home from the store in town (Baldwin,
Florida, near Jacksonville), he would bring my Dad a bag of
candy. My Dad would not share with his sisters and his father
would not make him share. This memory reminded me of the same
occurrence with my Dad. Every Friday afternoon he would bring
home a bag of french burnt peanuts and he would let me open the
bag first (always) and have some before my two sisters saw them.
At the time I thought this was just something he did because I
was the baby of the family but now realize he was continuing the
tradition of his father - just a little something extra to let
you know you're special. It may sound hokey, but I can remember
waiting for my Dad to get home to see what he brought - and
almost all of the time it was those peanuts!
My mom told me that my Dad's brothers were railroad men,
salesmen and one owned the hotel in Baldwin. My father enjoyed
playing basketball and played varsity in high school. After high
school he went to work for standard Oil Company in Jacksonville
and then went into the Air Force in Mississippi. He became an
aircraft mechanic and after the service worked for National
Airlines. When National Airlines moved to Miami, he did not want
to move, so he quit and went to work for civil service at the
Naval Air Station base in Jacksonville. He supervised the
mechanics working on planes.
Even though my Dad was very frugal during his lifetime we
lived very well. Since he built the house, we didn't have a
mortgage and he saved his money and paid cash for everything. I
remember one time he bought two cars in one week for cash. He
would take us on vacations all through Florida and we went to the
New York World's Fair in 1964 and Niagara Falls and one Christmas
during a blizzard in Iowa we had to spend Christmas Eve in a
hotel because we could not get to my aunt's house in Des Moines
until the blizzard stopped and the roads were cleared.
Even though my Dad would use his money for trips, on those
trips we would eat the cheapest on the menu. One of my father's
favorite games was "who can eat for under a dollar?" And the one
who eats the cheapest wins the game. There were never any prizes
for this game and I fell for it over and over because it pleased
my Dad so much.
This is representative of my Dad's attitude and philosophy
of life. Work hard, save, enjoy what is important and live your
life with dignity. I really miss him.
Sidney married Katherine Marie Nelson, daughter of John Lee Nelson and Florrie Mae Tuten, on Jan 16, 1942. (Katherine Marie Nelson was born on Jul 10, 1925 in Atlanta, Georgia.)