William Leverett Lawson, Tulsa Mechanic and Fisherman, 1900-1968

William Leverett Lawson was born Nov 5, 1900, in Wesley, Madison Co., Arkansas. His parents were John Calvin and Josephine Robbins Lawson. When he was born, his parents had just returned to Arkansas from living in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory (Township 22). William was born into a family with four other siblings: James H., born Sept 1888, Denver J, born Jan 1891, Clint, born Sept 1894, and Allie, sept 1896. John C. was a farmer; he and his wife and older children were literate. They rented their farm.

William did not serve in World War I, being exempted from the draft, per the 1917 Congressional Legislation that “exempted persons in certain classes or industries, including workmen in armories and those in agriculture whose work was ‘necessary to the maintenance of the Military Establishment’.”

William and Martha Susan Sorrels were married Dec. 15, 1920. He was 20, she was 17. At this time he was called “Will”.

The young couple became parents on Nov. 2, 1922, with the birth of Chloe Elnora. Soon after Will, Martha (or, Susie), and Chloe moved to the city of Tulsa. Six years later, living in Tulsa, their son Oliver Roy was born on July 27, 1928.

In the 1930 census, Will and Susie owned a radio, rented a house at 1520 N. Victor, and Will worked as a mechanic at an electrical shop. Soon after, the family moved to 1545 N. Birmingham Pl., where Oliver began kindergarten at Springdale Elementary, 2510 Pine St. They lived there for several years, then around 1936/37 relocated to West Tulsa, living a house they owned at 16 S. Santa Fe. This bungalow style home was long and narrow, atop a rising hill. The front steps went up a brief steep incline. There was a large porch and a porch swing. There was an ally next to the house that Will took to park his cars in the unattached garage at the back of the lot. The house had a deep basement.

In the 1940 census, Will was listed as an auto mechanic, working 48 hours per week, at Adams Motor Co, 5th and Detroit in Tulsa. He later worked as a mechanic at a Ford dealership, and retired in 1966 from Fred Jones Ford, 12th and Boston, in Tulsa. He drove a black 1950 Ford, then later invested in a ’63 white Mercury Comet.

Meanwhile, at some point after moving to Tulsa Will and Susie invested in real estate. Their son Oliver remembers, “I do know that my mother and father bought a 4-acre piece of land with run-down house on it in Sperry sometime when I was fairly young. I think they bought it at a tax auction. I had forgotten that my grandparents,” John Calvin and Josephine Lawson, “lived there at any time, but I think that I do now recollect them being there for a while, and I don’t remember their dying there. I do know that at some point in time, they rented the house and land to someone who eventually bought it from them.”

Will was a hunter, sometimes bagging squirrels that Susie prepared for dinner. He was an avid fisherman, and made his own fishing flies out of molded lead and small bright feathers. Will and Susie loved to fish at local lakes, such as Hominy Lake, Lake Spavinaw, and Keystone Lake. They caught bass, perch, and bluegill. They would take their two sons Chris and Rusty on weekend fishing trips.

Will, or as Susie grew to call him, “Bill,” was a quiet, reserved man. But he was a good man.

He died of cancer November 13, 1968, at age 68.

william leverett lawson 1967

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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