Early Family Photos

I posted a picture of my wife and I when we were married here. She just came across these old pictures (click for bigger):

circa 1989



A Country Doctor In Washington

[updated 2/13/2014]

Monday, 2/12/2024, will be the twentieth anniversary of my Dad's death. My sister graciously reminded me today that I have had Dad's manuscript for his autobiography, "A Country Doctor In Washington", for twenty years having received it from her care so that I could transcribe it into digital form. Dad originally composed it using WordPerfect and saved it on 3.5" floppy disks. If I had the discs I suppose I could buy an external floppy drive and read the files using LibreOffice or similar. But I don't think the disks exist. Too, he printed out the massive manuscript (I estimate 750 pages) and started proofing it manually.

I started scanning it and used OCR technology to transcribe it. But the OCR software of the time wasn't up to the task. So I set it aside. Today, my wife pulled some boxes out of storage to see if we could get rid of anything and the manuscript was in one of them. OCR technology has greatly improved - I managed to get through 10 pages in about an hour.

This work in progress is

A copy of my parents'
final divorce decree was found between the pages of the manuscript.


Procyon was my first dog. I was in Charlottesville, VA one weekend, probably around 1977-78, visiting my then girlfriend and riding horses with the gang. I suppose we had finished riding for the day and Kathy1 was petting one of the farm dogs. I asked her if I could hold him. As I held him, I told him that I wished I could take him home with me. Unbeknownst to me, his owner had walked up behind me and said, "You can. I'm giving him away." I called my dad that night and asked if I could bring him home when I came back Sunday night. He reluctantly agreed. We had lost our family poodle, Peppy, and I suspect he wasn't yet ready for another dog. Went riding again the next day. A low branch caught my glasses and knocked them from my face. I dismounted to look for them and finally found them under my horses' hoof. My guess is that my glasses had fallen into my lap and when I got off the horse they dropped to the ground and the horse deliberately stomped on them. I didn't have a spare, but one of my friends had a pair that would allow me to drive home the next day during daylight. So I called dad and said I wouldn't be home that evening as planned and asked him one more time if it was ok to bring a dog home. With a deep sigh he said, "I guess."

I named him Procyon, which is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor - the "little dog". Later that evening I passed my dad's bedroom. He was lying in bed with Pro standing on his chest being petted. A few years later, when I told dad that I was getting married, he said, "That's fine. You can go, but the dog stays." But I got the girl
2 and the dog.

The first picture I posted of Pro was
here. The above picture was taken sometime after 1984. More pictures under the fold.

Dad & Koala, Me & Monkey

Dad with a koala in Sydney, Australia; May 1985. Taken with Kodachrome 64; AE-1 Canon; automatic exposure.

Click for larger picture.

Note that the koala is clutching a stuffed animal. That keeps their claws in the doll and not in you.

Me with a monkey. I don't remember this picture being taken, I have no idea where it was taken, and I have no clue as to the monkey's name. A business card was attached. Jasmine Technologies, Inc. was in business from 1986 to 1990. They made an external SCSI drive for Macintosh Computers. I was most likely working for Quadram/National Semiconductor (12/86 to 6/90). While they primarily made accessories for IBM-PC computers, they also had a NuBus color graphics card for the Mac. I could also have been early in my time with DayStar Digital (6/90 to 4/96).


That's Judsonia

W. E. Orr published "That's Judsonia" in 1957. Some 600 to 700 copies were printed. My grandmother gave a copy to my dad in 1958. He was around 35 years old; I was around 3. Tucked inside the book are three yellowed newspaper clippings. One identifies the newspaper and date from which it was taken; one has my dad's handwritten annotation that it was from September 1977; one is undated. I believe that all three came from the White County Record.

The first is a picture of a steamboat on the Little Red River [click picture for a larger version].


Jimmy Gill, and his brother W. W. "Doc" Gill lived across the street from my grandmother's house. Jimmy framed pictures, Doc was a dentist. One summer, very long ago, my dad and I were outside the house when Doc — a very old man at the time — came shuffling up the sidewalk. Dad asked, "Why don't you let Doc look at your loose tooth?" Of course I didn't want him too. But dad and Doc convinced me to open my mouth and, before I could react, Doc snaked his gnarly old forefinger into my mouth and the tooth was out. That should have been the beginning of a deep-seated mistrust of doctors, but my dad and Doc knew what they were doing. The tooth was out and the extraction didn't hurt. But how times have changed. Today an ungloved hand wouldn't go near a patients mouth.

second article features Orr's reflections on his book. The third article recounts a Yankee gunboat on the Red River during the war of Northern aggression. The links go to digitized versions of the articles; the page titles link to the scan of the article.


Paternal Grandfather

I have written several times about my paternal grandfather (here, here, here, and here). I came across this picture of him today while cleaning files from my laptop. Click for a bigger version. He is standing in the living room of grandmother's house. It's grandmother's house because my grandfather, while sharing my birthday, died not quite six months after I was born, so I never had the chance to meet him.



Today was Titan's last day. RIP.

My first picture of Titan and Kala dated April 16, 2013.

Titan at Home Depot, July 20, 2018.

Titan with Liam, January 5, 2019.

January 15, 2021.

See also, "Boy & Dog".


This afternoon my sister informed me that our brother Tom (second of four, two years younger than me) passed away. There are very few additional details at this time.

Aunt Katherine


My Aunt Katherine (my mother's sister) passed away on my mom's birthday. My mother would have been 91, she was senior to Katherine by 3 years. I made the six and half hour drive to Memphis on Thursday for the privilege of speaking at her funeral on Friday. Katherine was my "Mary Magdalene" - she was the first in my memory to tell me that the tomb was empty and that she had seen the risen Jesus. It took years and years for the seed that she planted to finally grow.


Hannah Claire

Born 12/21 @ 1:30am. 7lb 20oz, 20.5 inches, Apgar 8 then 9. I got to hold her on 12/24.

Her original due date was 12/22. On Wed, 12/18, Mom was experiencing itchy palms and feet. This can be nothing, it can also be serious. Ob-gyn wanted to draw blood so I took her there. Afterward, we had lunch at Maple Street Biscuits. Mom had a regular checkup the next day then the bloodwork results came back Friday. The doctor wanted to induce her right away. Flu had ravaged the household, so Dad was not allowed at the delivery. Family who hadn't had flu shots weren't permitted, either. So Mom delivered with her sister and friend. Dad finally got to see his daughter on 12/23 and they all came home on Christmas Eve. Grandma and I cleaned the house on 12/21. In particular, three loads of laundry in 60 lb washers to get all the sheets and comforters done.

Recent Firsts

  • First Uber ride, 11/27
  • First held Miles (right), 11/28
  • First Oyster Po Boy (at 3rd Bar in the S terminal at IAH), 12/1
  • First cigar with son-in-law (and his first smoke of any kind, ever), 12/14

I hope to hold Hannah soon. Daughter-in-law is being induced as I post this. Hospital won't let any of us be there due to recent flu in the family.

Miles Gilbert


2:48pm, 6 lbs, 13 oz. He's not listening to hot tunes in the second picture; it's a hearing test, which he passed. They didn't do that with our kids twenty seven plus years ago...

Pure Pomeranian

Titan's WisdomPanel DNA results show that he is 100% Pomeranian. At 20lbs, this means that he is a "throwback" Pomeranian. His health panel showed no known health issues.


Liam Avery

Liam Avery, born 10/03 at 7:33pm. 7.3 lbs, 19 inches. He cried and cried the first time I held him, but after Mom fed him, he was content.


On Aug 22 and 23, David, David's father-in-law, and I — along with neighbor Chris and my wife Becky — laid five pallets of sod in David's back yard. Here is the sod ready to be moved into place.


The finished product:


We started by individually picking up a piece of sod, carrying it to its destination, and laying it in place. The old men managed this for a few hours but eventually, we gave out. We switched to carrying sod to David who would lay it. We timed things so that one of us would be going out to give the next piece to David while the other was coming back to get another. This almost tripled our throughput. After long wearying hours, David decided that we could use the wheelbarrow to load the sod up. Why we didn't think of this sooner is one of life's great mysteries.

The next time I have to do this I'll know how to go about it.

But there isn't going to be a next time. I'll pay for someone to do it, first.


Libby and Harrison

Libby and Harrison. Harrison Thomas was born on 5/13 at 11:23 AM, weighing 6 lbs 12 oz and 20 inches long. Libby celebrated her second birthday on 5/3.

A Life Transformed

This is Chuck. Chuck is wearing a hat knitted by Maria, one of the women in our church's knitting group. The picture does justice to neither Chuck nor the hat. I wish that Chuck would write his autobiography. An appropriate title would be "A Life Transformed".


Cinderella and Prince Charming

From the Friday, March 22, 1963 Northern Virginia SUN.

The caption reads:

THE SHOE FITS -- Prince Charming portrayed by Robert Felts finds his true love as he places the glass slipper on the foot of Cinderella played by Deborah Habel. The disgruntled trio in the background are the mother, Frances Alexander (left), second sister Martha Clark, and first sister Lyn Larsen, standing. The play was written by the children of Mrs. Polly Wrinkle's second grade at Madison Elementary School, Arlington. They also made the set and props for Wednesday's performance for mothers and the primary grades. (SUN Photo - Bill LIttle.)

My mother made my costume, including the hat. If memory serves, the jacket and hat were brown. I also remember that Martha had an English Springer Spaniel named Humphrey.

Belhaven University

On Thursday, Becky, Rachel and I drove to Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. We arrived early enough so that after checking in at our hotel we drove to the campus and wandered around. We began Friday meeting with Daniel Shaw of the Admissions Office; then toured the campus. We met with the Chair of Graphic Design, Kris Dietrich. The department has a blog here.

We enjoyed our time there; the campus is very appealing and the faculty and students that we met were very nice. It will be interesting to see whether Rachel opts for Belhaven or

Proud Father, IV

Rachel received a call tonight from the admissions office at Belhaven University informing her that she had been accepted.

Dad in People Magazine

My father was featured in People Magazine, Volume 4, Number 5, August 4, 1975. (link to .pdf)

[Update 12/30/09]: My sister writes, “I remember when they were writing the article. The photographer even came to one of Sam's baseball games, but the photos never made it in the magazine.”

1998 Duluth Wildcats

I’ve been carrying this plastic card in my wallet for 11 years. Since I’ve started digitizing the VHS tapes of my son’s football games, I decided it was time to digitize this, too. I think that #10 should be “Hutzel”. It looks like the trailing “l” was mistakenly appended to #18, “Alex Gooding”.

W. R. Felts, MD: A Brief Video Biography

This video is a brief biography of my father, shown at the Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner given by the Arthritis Foundation on May 4, 1993.


What Every Father Wants to Hear

“I’m going to kill you!”, said my daughter to me on Christmas day.

Since she is heading off to college soon and because she has been using my 7 year old laptop that has a broken DVD drive and a hard disk that is developing bad sectors, my wife and I decided to get her a new laptop for Christmas. Of course, we told her that she wasn’t going to get one -- that I wanted to wait until nearer to when she leaves for school so that we could get a newer, updated model. At best, we would get her an iPod Touch to replace her aging iPod Nano.

We wrapped the MacBook Pro, labeled it “from Dad to Rachel”, and put it under the tree. Two days later, I wrapped my wife’s iPod Touch, labelled it “to Rachel from Dad”, and switched the label on the MacBook with “to Mom from Dad.” As my children had been checking the presents daily, this bit of misdirection caused some delightful puzzlement. Delightful to me, anyway.

Christmas morning, we arranged gift distribution so that Rachel would open the iPod Touch early and that Mom would open the MacBook last. Finally, when Mom was given “her” package, I stopped the proceedings, told Rachel to give Mom the Touch and to open “Mom’s” package. She uttered the words every father wants to hear when she saw what it was.

Proud Father, III

Today, my son told me that this semester he earned his Master of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. On to his PhD.

Proud Father, II

My daughter received her first college acceptance letter today from Liberty University. She is waiting to hear from SCAD, and is contemplating applying to Belhaven College. View her portfolio.

Proud Father

This is over a month overdue. My son had his first research paper published on October 5th. He wrote, "If you finish reading it and feel like it's missing something, well, it is. It's just the tip of the iceberg of a couple of projects that I have going on right now that I would like to see come together in the next couple of years."

The title is "
Mechanical design for tailoring the resonance harmonics of an atomic force microscope cantilever during tip-surface contact", published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, 19 (2009). Unfortunately, the article is available only by subscription.


That's my girl!

I’m teaching my daughter computer programming. She’s having a bit of trouble with the syntax for a particular construct. I asked her what “syntax” was and she answered, “the way things are properly put together.” I equivocated and said, “no, it’s what you have to pay when you’ve been bad.”

Without missing a beat she retorted, “I thought that was bail!”

That’s my girl, all right!

Bowling with Daughter

My daughter bowls regularly in a home school bowling league. Yesterday she swapped out her old ball for a new one and wanted to get some more experience with it. Her league average is around 115 and her high is 182 (or 183, she isn’t sure). I used to bowl in a league in college; my average thirty years ago was 140-something with a high of 203 (that game I bowled way above my pay grade).

So today, the father (WRF) caked with rust faced off against the daughter (RAF) with an unfamiliar ball.


Two good things did come out of this debacle, however. I managed to win 2 free games by rolling a strike when the head pin was orange in two opportunities in the second game.

Rachel had also decided to give up in the second game around frame 5 or 6. I could see it in her eyes. I gave her the Yogi Berra lecture (“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”). Her two strikes in frames 9 and 10 forced me to have to mark in the last frame and I just wasn’t hitting the spares today. I hope she remembers this.

I also wish I could interest her in disc golf. I’d have a better chance of winning.

When was my Grandfather born?

My grandfather’s obituary listed both 1887 and 1889 as his year of birth. His World War I registration card (part 1, part 2) shows 1890. His World War II registration card (part 1, part 2) also shows 1890. His marriage certificate notes that he was 29 in 1920. Because he was married on January 29 he would have turned 30 on his birthday on March 29. 30 years before 1920 is 1890.

On the other hand, according to my sister, the family bible, his death certificate, and the estate tax forms filled out after his death show 1889.

To further complicate matters, the entry from my father’s diary, dated March 29, 1950, reads: “Dad's 59th BD”. 1950 - 59 is 1891!

We know that people would often fudge their age to join the military or to get married; but in this case those reasons don’t apply. One year’s difference wouldn’t have affected either his military or marriage eligibility.

There is no clear weight of evidence to decide in favor of either 1889, 1890, or 1891 so this will have to remain a mystery.

Family Voyages

From a newspaper clipping found inside the family copy of That’s Judsonia by W. E. Orr. The paper was most likely the White County Record from 1977.


August 10, 1939

Billy Bob Felts, who has been visiting aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Roy North in Washington D. C. the past month, sailed Saturday with Mr. and Mrs. North and family for a visit to the West Indies and the Panama Canal. They will attend the 20th anniversary of the Panama Canal at Balboa, Canal Zone, on August 15.


Woodyard and Felts

My grandfather’s obituary noted, “After his graduation in 1914 he came to Judsonia as an associate of the late Dr. W. H. L. Woodyard.” A biography of Dr. Woodyard notes, “He is now associated with W. R. FELTS, of whom he had been a partner since 1913...” Once again, we are faced with differing dates. In any case, I was lucky to find a set of four vintage postcards for sale on eBay, one of which was listed as being from “Woodyard and Felts, Judsonia Arkansas”. Fortunately, no one bid against me. Click the pictures for higher resolution images.



Note that the postmark is dated November 7 (or 17), 1914. I don’t think that helps resolve the date either way.

Google shows that a Percy Castle of Fulton, Missouri was in the Supply Company, 349th Infantry, 88th Division, US Army.

My Grandmother: Goddess of Love?

My grandmother’s maiden name was Willie Etidorpha Lewis. A Google search on “Etidorpha” returns:

     There is one item in it [the catalog] that interests me especially:
Etidorpha ("Aphrodite" spelled backwards), by J. U. Lloyd, a strange novel, ...

The novel was first published in 1895; grandmother was born four years later on March 18, 1898. Is it possible that she was named after an early science-fiction/fantasy novel?

I’ve ordered the book from Amazon. I’ll report on it after I read it. It can be read online (e.g.
Google Books) but I still prefer paper.

Were her parents aware of the “Etidorpha” <-> “Aphrodite” connection? My sister doesn’t think that our dad had known about this. Grandmother appears in this picture from 1918. I suspect she is the one on the right, but the picture isn’t labeled:


In the 1918 Fourth of July Parade, the men in front are the “home guard” and one of the “nurses” was Willie E. Lewis. The theme of the Fourth of July Parade that year was “all about our boys in uniform.” The home guard was for men too old for the draft. This particular float was to honor the American Red Cross in the war effort. Photo courtesy of Dr. William Felts.

-- from “In And Around White County, Arkansas”, pg.23.

Fifty-one years later, November 16, 1969 was designated Mrs. W. R. Felts Appreciation Day at First Baptist Church. This picture was featured on the front page of the November 13, 1969 edition of the White County Record, Volume 57, Number 45.


Sunday, November 16, 1969 has been designated as Mrs. W. R. Felts Appreciation Day at First Baptist Church, in recognition of over 50 yeas of service as church pianist and organist. Mrs. Felts started playing the old pump organ when she was only twelve years old. She has served her church faithfully during the ensuing years. Regardless of the circumstances, she has fulfilled her duties as organist with a devotion and dedication that has been an inspiration to all.

Because of an accident she suffered while at the church practicing, and the painful effects of arthritis, Mrs. Felts has had to forego playing the organ and the church has elected her as “Organist Emeritus.”

Mrs. Felts is a native of Judsonia, the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Lewis. Her life was spent in the shadow of First Baptist Church, being reared next door to the parsonage. Because of her love for music, she often used the church instruments to practice. She was married to Dr. W. R. Felts, January 29, 1920 and has one son, Dr. Billy Bob Felts, Washington, D. C.

During a revival held by Bro. L. C. Bauer of Whitehall, Illinois, Mrs. Felts joined the church and was baptized March 23, 1921 by the pastor, Bro. S. C. Vick.

She has served the church graciously through the years. She has served as Primary Teacher, Junior Boys Teacher, Junior Girls Teacher and helped with the Helping Hands organization (now Woman’s Missionary Union) and Royal Ambassadors and has worked in BYPU (presently called Training Union).

Through all the years, Mrs. Felts has worked with the adult choir, and has played for all church services, cantatas, special music, funerals, and weddings. All are appreciative of her efforts. Her life speaks of God’s loving grace through the dedication of one’s life dedicated to our Lord.

The church cordially invites the friends of Mrs. W. R. Felts to worship with us next Sunday. Mrs. Felts will be playing for the evening worship and a time of appreciation will be held during the 11 o’clock service.

Mrs. Felts will sit in the congregation as an honored guest and will be recognized by her pastor.


A Boy and His Dog

[updated 6 October 2023 to correct dates]

No, not the novella by Harlan Ellison, or the movie with the same name. The story is one of my favorites; the movie didn’t capture the power of the ending. Anyway, this is a picture of my father and his dog, Pal, taken on Mother's Day, 1932. That would make my dad nine. Pal’s age is unknown. I assume the picture was taken in Judsonia, Arkansas where dad grew up. Pal was frequently loaned to the Judsonia police department when they were looking for someone. While he had no formal training, he was “as smart as a whip.” Pal died when someone put out a piece of meat with poison in it - Dad thought it was done by someone who Pal helped track down.


A Letter From My Grandfather

My paternal grandfather was born on March 29, 1890 in Cave City, Arkansas [but see here]. According to his military registration card, he was “tall”, had blue eyes, light color hair and, in the opinion of the examiner, was “stout”.


The first picture was taken in 1914 upon his graduation from the University of Tennessee School of Medicine. The middle one is from 1916, where he served as a 1st lieutenant in the Medical Corps in France during WW I. The last picture was taken circa 1935 in Judsonia, Arkansas, where he served as Mayor and was also long-time president of the school board.

He and I share the same birthday but I never had the opportunity to meet him as he died sometime in November of 1955. On April 4th of that year he wrote a letter to me. It was typed on the letterhead of “Woodyard & Felts, Judsonia, Arkansas” which was the pharmacy he owned until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1952. The letter is reproduced below with spelling and punctuation faithfully followed. The “Shiner” that he mentions refers to the black eye I had at birth.

My Dear and Only Grand Child: I received your letter with Great pleasure and admiration, and mindful of the Genuine Love that Prompted you to Contact me so early. I must tell you how much I love you, every pound and ounce of you, And Say I am going to Let you in on our first Secret, You are larger than your Dady was at your age, Now Son don’t let that Shiner worry you, for sometimes the Stork gets a bit Carless, he has so many little ones to look after. Now if you will be quiet and listen I will tell you a True Story: Once upon a time, Long ago, Our Creator GOD Made His Creation and set it in Motion, and called it Good, and He being Lonesome Spat upon the Ground, made some Clay mud and made a man to be with him, in his Image and likeness, But he had no Sole or Spirit of Immortality, so he put the breath of life into the man, And that Breath became Immortal, kinda like he did you. God saw that the man he had Made, Adam he Called HIM, Was lonesome So he Mad A Woman to become a help Mete for Adam, and to become Mothers for you, me, and All of Us. Our Mother Was good and Precious, but one day a Serpant entered the Garden, and Begiled our Mother, So God Was angry, because She disobeyed him, so he Put a Curse Upon our Parents, and it is that Curse that causes you Dady to Work and your Mother to Labor, so that Explains your Black Eye, but Dont let that Worry you, for one Night GOD Sent His ONLY SON into the World, That through him all our of Our fathers and Mothers, might be Forgiven and Redeemed by His Precious Blood, for our Disobedience to him in the beginning. Of Course we will have to Believe on and Trust him, For Eternal Life, Beyond this one here on the Earth. Of Course I Could tell you the Story, how the Unbelieving Jews Killed This Son, Crucified Him Upon A CROSS, and Buried him, and on the Third Day He Came back to Life in a Spiritual and Ressurrected Body, but you will have a few years, to Listen to Your Father and Mother, Tell and teach you about Him. Now Son your Length and Features isnt too Important. But it is most Important What kind of Spirit Inhabits that Body, Or Temple it Is Called. Grandmother Tells me that you will be home today and I know you are going to be proud of your Home and your Father and Mother, for you together are what makes up what Society Calls the Family. And The one who was Crucified, Commands us to honor Father and Mother, and he also wants them to Love you, so that the Family you are part of will make a happy one. Now after I tell you that I love you will you remember me to Mother and Dad, and Grandmother, and Convey my love to them also. I must say that I deeply regret that I didn’t have the Pleasure of personally greeting you upon your arrival, but am Looking forward with fond anticipation, to meeting you soon, and in the Interim be a sweet little man. I must apologise for burdening you with so long, and random Message but guess it is My awkward way of Telling you that I Love you so very Much. I shall be looking forward to hearing from you often.

Paternally Yours
(signed) Dad
Grand Pa.

I didn’t receive this letter until, perhaps, 2001 or ’02. I suspect that my father was somewhat embarrassed by it. The spelling and grammar weren’t up to Grandfather’s standards, but he was laboring under a prior stroke. Too, Dad related that Granddad had become a “religious fanatic” late in life and religion was something that I think made Dad uncomfortable. But having travelled my own Damascus road this letter is a delight and treasure to me, errors of language and simple theology notwithstanding. I wonder what I’ll write to my grandchildren?