Frank Dittmeyer came to Pampa in 1911

Frank Dittmeyer, whose paternal ancestors emigrated from Hamburg , Germany in 1853, was born to George W. and Carrie C. ( Austin ) Dittmeyer on January 25, 1895 at Ringwood, Oklahoma. Frank’s father and grandfather had homesteaded on land in the Cherokee Strip land rush in 1893.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

Frank attended school at Meno , Oklahoma where he completed the eighth grade. He worked at various jobs around Meno, until 1911 when he came, at the age of 16, with a threshing crew to Gray County . Here he was employed by I.B. Hughey as a steam engineer and general ranch hand.

He worked as a mechanic for several persons until 1918 when he enlisted in the United States Army at Lefors , Texas . He served with the Nineteenth Ammunition Train stationed at Fort Sill , Oklahoma until he was discharged on February 7, 1919.

On December 9, 1919 he married Gracie Drake and they were the parents of Robert Cecil, born December 22, 1922. Gracie died in February 1923.

After his discharge from the army Frank worked for several persons as a steam engineer and mechanic until 1922 when he became a mechanic and general front-end man for W.E. Duncan, owner of the Texas Garage at 120 North Cuyler. From 1924 until 1927 he was an automobile mechanic and foreman for Tom Rose Motor Company at 121 North Ballard.

Soon after Frank began to work at Tom Rose Motor Company, he was called to aid a young lady whose car had stalled on Cuyler Street . She was Lona Smith, daughter of Charles W. and Georgia (Miller) Smith who lived at Kingsmill. Frank and Lona were married on December 20, 1924 at Panhandle, Texas .

Frank and Lona had three daughters: Geneva (Mrs. Bill Barton) born August 4, 1927; Juanita Laverne (Mrs. Doc Wood) born January 18, 1929 and Martha Lucille (Mrs. Jack E. Hilton) born July 9, 1933.

In 1927 Frank purchased Lots 2 and 3 of Block 10 in the South Side Addition and opened his own business, Craven Avenue Garage at 209 West Craven. His family lived west of the garage at 215 West Craven. The family of Harry and Esther Jennings lived east of the garage at 201 West Craven (corner of West Craven and South Russell).

The Dittmeyer children remember Matt Jennings, son of Harry and Esther, and Woody Guthrie as they picked and fiddled their music on the front porch of the Jennings home in the early 1930s. Woody and Mary Jennings, Matt’s sister, were married on October 28, 1933 and lived in a two-room house on the Jennings ‘ property.

Shortly before the Depression began in 1929, Frank moved his garage to 228 West Brown and renamed it Brown Street Garage. Although times were hard, he managed to stay in business and support his family by trading with the farmers. He never turned away anyone who needed help.

During a blizzard in 1934 Frank received word that a Mexican family, including ten children, was stranded in a truck near Laketon. He went to their aid, towed the truck to Pampa and kept the family in his home while he repaired the truck. Refusing any pay, he sent the family on their way when the weather cleared. About ten years later the man who had been helped returned to thank Frank again.

In 1935 the United States Government paid a bonus to the veterans of World War I. With his bonus Frank purchased the Thurmond Grocery at 228 West Brown and renamed it Brown Street Grocery. In 1938 he moved the grocery across the street to 311 West Brown where it remained for thirty-eight years. Frank at the garage and Lona at the grocery store, who never turned away any needy person, operated their businesses until their deaths. Frank died on June 2, 1962 and Lona died on September 3, 1965. Both are buried in Fairview Cemetery .

All of the Dittmeyer children, who helped Lona at the grocery store, attended Baker Elementary School , Pampa Junior High School and graduated from Pampa High School . Cecil died in 1990 and Martha died in 1991. Geneva and Juanita continue to live in Pampa where Frank Dittmeyer saw his dream of 1911 come true on Brown Street.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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