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HHS Class of 1939 graduate recalls years leading to WW II

Betty Curtis Mudd, a 1939 graduate of Hannibal High School, grew up on Bell Avenue in Hannibal and spent much time playing in Mahan woods behind her family’s house. She was the daughter of Bill and Nellie Curtis, and her father worked at the shoe factory.

Neighbor was Jim Ballinger. Wendell Richmond lived at the corner of Bell and Hawkins. While still in high school, Betty worked in the dry goods department at Sonnenbergs. “My teacher got me the job, because I knew a lot about sewing.” She remembers teaching the older women in town how to sew. “I made all of my own clothes, and after I was married I had two little girls, and made all of their clothes, too,” she said.

She left Sonnenbergs and went to work in the cosmetic department at the Kresge store across the street, making $20 per week. Her final job as a single woman was at Wendt-Sonis, a Hannibal company that won a large defense contract at the start of World War II, where she made $50. “I thought I was rich,” she said.

There she met “a wonderful, handsome man” – Lee Francis (Bud) Mudd - the foreman of her department. “We rode the same St. Mary’s bus to work. One day he sat next to me and asked me to go out to dinner.”

She accepted, and ultimately they married. When Bud was deployed to Germany during the war, she stayed with his mother.

Her in-laws owned a farm where the Huck Finn Shopping Center is now located, and after the war offered Betty and Bud the southernmost corner of their farmland.

They built a house roughly where Hardee’s now stands at the Huck Finn Shopping Center. Her mother-in-law’s house was located just to the north, on the site of the F&M Bank branch.

When the inlaws sold the property in the 1960s for construction of the shopping center, Betty and Bud, and her inlaws bought property two doors apart on Wyaconda.

Betty said that after they sold their home for shopping center development, her house was moved on a flat bed truck and relocated to West Ely Road. Her mother-in-law’s house was older, and was subsequently torn down.

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