ElaineJAshley.com is a web site that celebrates the life and experiences of Elaine Jeannette Dockery Ashley. Here you will find history, stories, photos, movies, and links about Elaine and the people she loves. You will also find ElaineWiki - a wiki that attempts to document the collective family history of the Lees, Dockerys, Duttons, Ashleys and Wiggins families. This is a living web site that is updated often. Please bookmark this web site and return and contribute often.
The Elaine Ashley Story
by Elise Danielle Ashley
Elaine Dockery Ashley was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at Mercy Douglas Hospital, on June 22, 1931. Elaine’s parents are Zander Adam Dockery, who was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Ethel Lee Dockery. She has one sister and three brothers. Her sister’s name is Muriel, and her brothers’ names are Zander Jr., Ronald, and Dwight (nicknamed Jackie). She finds her grandfather on her mom’s side to be interesting because he was one of the first policemen ever to use a motorcycle. As a kid, Elaine did have a dog named Frisky, but that was all. She loved the fact that here grandparents lived only three blocks away from her house. She also liked going to a place called Camp Happy where she and other kids made cool crafts and played fun games. Her worst memory, though, was when she was ten and got scarlet fever. She was in the hospital for thirty days, and her mom could only visit her once a week. My grandma even had her eleventh birthday in the hospital.
Elaine really loved her elementary school. For one thing, it was only three blocks away, so she could walk to and from school every day. The school hours were from 9:00a.m. to 3:30p.m. At the school there was a girls’ gym and a boys’ gym, complete with lots of equipment. On the playground there was a maypole, and all of the kids loved to twist its ribbons on holidays. Elaine’s favorite subject in school was science. She got good grades. Her father was pretty strict, so she was always sure to do her homework. She never got in trouble at school, only scolded once for always wanting to play instead of work. Some of her friends were Meta Tisdale, Carolyn Liggins, and Inez Jones. She has known Inez since kindergarten, and is still friends with her today!
My grandma’s happiest childhood memory is when she was picked the school Door Guard. She got to make sure that once kids left school at the end of the day they didn’t come back in. For fun she liked to play hopscotch, jumprope, red rover, hide-and-go-seek, and use her doctor’s kit and chemistry set. She didn’t listen to any music, but her favorite movie was “Gone With the Wind”. Elaine does not remember when she got her first television, but she does know that her family preferred listening to the radio, and they liked to picture the stories in their heads.
Elaine Ashley went to Germantown High School. The school hours were from 9:00a.m. to 2:30p.m. She rode the trolley car to school every day. Her dad never let her go to any of the proms, parties, or dances, but she loved going to the football games. In school, some of the classes Elaine took were Latin, English, algebra, and botany. Before school she had choir, and after school she had Latin Club, softball, girls’ gym team, and girls’ basketball. She didn’t receive any big awards, except a few for softball. She had driven a few times before, but my grandma properly learned how to drive when she was twenty-eight years old in 1959. She learned on the snow in a pink 1957 Chevrolet Station Wagon. She doesn’t remember the fashions of the time, mainly because she made her own clothing.
Elaine went to Bittle University for college, the same college both her father and grandfather went to. Her first job was a bus girl (the person who clears off people’s tables) in a restaurant. Soon after that, she worked at Temple University Medical Hospital. She took people’s blood, and there she made $120 a month. This was a start for her dream. She wanted to be an army nurse in WWII and travel around the world. She will always remember when she was eating dinner on a Sunday, and the paperboy was running down the streets with a paper saying we had declared war on Japan.
My grandma first met her husband, Wendell Ashley, in 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her friend and his friend brought them together. They went to the movies, and afterward he walked her home. Elaine got married to Wendell on December 31, 1955 (New Years Eve). She was twenty-four and a half. Her wedding was a big one, and she had a long, white gown. It was held in a church by a minister, and her aunt’s friend got a big, long limousine to take my grandpa and her away after the wedding.
During her adulthood life, Elaine didn’t do too much working, and mainly stayed home with her two sons. At one point though, she worked for the United States Mint, which she enjoyed a lot. Her sons names are Wendell (nicknamed Reggie) who was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1957, and Anthony (nicknamed Tony) Ashley who was born in Tachikawa, Japan in 1960.
As an adult, Elaine lived in many places. In 1956 she and my grandpa moved to Mobile, Alabama. One year later they moved to Rome, New York. In 1960, they moved again, this time to Tachikawa, Japan, where they lived for four years. Afterwards, they moved to Clovis, New Mexico. In 1967, the family moved to Anchorage, Alaska for three years before moving to Dalton, Ohio. Next, they lived in Panama City, Florida, and in 1975, they moved to Edwards Airforce Base, here in California. They then moved to Munich, Germany in 1982. They later lived in Marysville, California and Sacramento, California. Today, my grandparents live in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. For fun, Elaine liked to do crafts, play bridge and mahjong, and make ceramics and dollhouses.
The major change in Elaine’s life as an adult was probably when she finally settled in a home in Maryland, since she was so used to moving all the time. Unfortunately, now her parents, aunts, and uncles have all passed away. Plus, one of her nieces was hit by a car and killed when she was only six. Elaine will always remember, though, the Civil Rights Movement. She thought, and still thinks, that everyone should be equal, and the movement was very important for the country and even the world.
Some of the changes in Elaine’s senior life were when she got grandchildren, stopped working and had lots of extra time, and was able to explore new hobbies. Today, she has two grandchildren: Nicholas and Elise Ashley (my brother and I). She doesn’t work anymore, and her husband retired three years ago in 2005.
Now Elaine likes to quill, make miniatures, and bowl. Other than the places she has lived, she has traveled to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, the Bahamas of Florida, here in Rancho Santa Margarita, Spain, and Morocco, North Africa, which was her favorite place. My grandma also says she loved the Beijing, China Olympics, and thought they really did a great job.
Some of the important things she has experienced in her life have been the Civil Rights Movement, watching her kids grow up, and Barack Obama being elected president. If she could change one thing in life, she would want to have more grandchildren. She also wishes she had better health, but other than that, she says,
“Life is marvelous, fabulous for me.” She doesn’t think it is easier to live in 2008, rather than when she was growing up, because she has always been content and happy. She does, however, think that the Palm Pilot and computer have been great steps forward in technology. One thing that surprised Elaine was that Barack Obama was elected for president. She never thought she would live to see a black man elected.
One thing Elaine likes to tell the people of the next generation is,
“You should always study hard, study long, and pay yourself first.” She says you should try to get a good education and always be careful with your money. Save it, don’t spend it all right away. I hope you will accept this advice offering.
From this interview, I have become closer to my grandma and learned so much more about her. I am very glad to understand and interpret that she has had a great life. I am sorry that her parents, aunts, and uncles have all died, but that is the circle of life. I had a really great time listening to all of her stories, though, and she said she really enjoyed remembering her childhood and all of her memories.
One thing somebody could learn from Elaine is that you should be careful with your money always. I am so happy that I was able to interview her and learn about all of her experiences, and I am happy to know how excited she was when I picked her to interview. My hopes for her are for her to live a long, good life, and always be happy. I hope you enjoyed my report about Elaine Dockery Ashley.