Helen grew up on a farm, the daughter of a share cropper who raised cotton and corn near Shawnee. Her parents, Marion Gibson and Ira Jane Spencer had seven children, Helen being their third child. She started to school in 1932 at South Rock Creek where she went through the 8th grade. She was an aggressive child, always coming to the rescue for her older sister who was much more timid than Helen.

Helen grew up on a farm, the daughter of a share cropper who raised cotton and corn near Shawnee. Her parents, Marion Gibson and Ira Jane Spencer had seven children, Helen being their third child. She started to school in 1932 at South Rock Creek where she went through the 8th grade. She was an aggressive child, always coming to the rescue for her older sister who was much more timid than Helen.

“I had my first case of puppy love when I was in the 7th grade. The boy was a fellow 7th grader and he had a crush on me too. He was always bringing me something. One time he gave me a big fancy valentine. I loved it. His mother loved me too. She asked me to wait for her son until we were older and to marry him. Even though I liked him a lot and thought he was really the one for me, I was not ready to think about marriage. I told her that was a long way off and we would see.”

After 8th grade graduation, it was off to Earlsboro High School. Helen said that she did not play ball or other activities in high school because she and her siblings had to work on the farm picking cotton, hoeing corn and taking care of the animals. They had a house with an upstairs but she could never sleep up there because she walked in her sleep. “One night”, Helen said, “my mother found me in the barn petting the horse.” They never knew where to find me.

Country kids used to have “play parties” on weekends for entertainment. They would go to one kids home where a big bucket of Kool-Aid and maybe some popcorn would be the treats and they would play games like “spin the bottle.” When Helen was a junior, this guy invited her to a play party. He told her that he had a friend who was home on leave from the army and he wanted to meet her. When they got to the party, she met Clifford Sikes. She said,” He was so handsome that I was attracted to him immediately. Some of my attraction may have been his uniform. We were playing ‘spin the bottle’ and the bottle pointed to me. My direction was to pick a guy and go for a walk. Well, I picked Clifford and we went walking behind the wood shed. We talked like we had been friends for a long time. He told me about being in the Army. We discussed what we wanted to do with our lives. We were gone a long time and some of the kids came looking for us. It was kind of embarrassing.”

The next evening Helen went out with Clifford. He met her family and they loved him. He had to go back to the Army in two weeks but they corresponded until he came home again.

After high school in 1944, Helen went to work at Douglas Aircraft Company in Midwest City where she was “Rosie the Riveter” building C-47 Bombers. She said, “I would climb up on the wing and rivet the sheets of metal covering the plane wings.”

Clifford came home on leave in September of 1944, and they were married in the parsonage by the pastor of Garden Grove Baptist Church just east of Prague.

When the war was over in 1945, Helen was laid off and she went to work as a dentist’s assistant for Dr. John Landrum, downtown Shawnee. She worked there until Clifford came home in 1946.

Clifford got work at General Motors in Shawnee where he worked until he retired. Helen quit working when they started their family. The couple had two boys. Helen said, “We traveled with the boys all the years that they were at home. Nearly every year we went to Colorado where we camped out and fished for trout in the South Fork River. We later built a cabin which was more comfortable and warmer. We also fished in Missouri.”

The Sikes family was faithful members of the Baptist Church in Tecumseh. Clifford was a deacon for forty years and he and Helen worked with the young people in the church.

Their older son joined the Air Force and the younger son was in the Navy. Helen and Clifford traveled around the country visiting the boys where they were stationed.

In 1979, Helen and Clifford went to Hawaii where General Motors was holding a yearly meeting. She said it was the high point in her life. When they were not in meetings, they were able to visit all the tourist places.

Helen said, “I thought we were the poorest people in the world just having enough income to get by.” Our sons thought we were the richest because they had everything they needed and we always made room at the table and a bed for any of their friends. We were a close family and had great vacation time in the summers.

The Sikes family lived in a small house in Shawnee for fifty-two years and they purchased a larger home on North Chapman where they lived eight years. When Clifford and Helen were both in poor health, they sold their home and moved into Primrose Retirement Community in 2013, right after it opened. Clifford passed away May 18, 2016.

Helen said, “We had a wonderful life together for seventy-two years. Our two sons have been our pride and joy.” Helen continues to make her home at Primrose.

Note: Story submitted by Pat Gaines on behalf of Primrose.