Jack Horace SHELL Sr. [Parents] [scrapbook] was born on 1 Jul 1924 in Hamburg, Ashley Co, Arkansas. He died on 23 Apr 1950 in Crossett, Ashley Co., Arkansas. He was buried 1 in Hamburg Cemetery, Ashley Co., Arkansas. Jack married Ethyl Amelia SMITH on 2 Jul 1941 in El Dorado, Union Co., Arkansas.
Jack Horace Christmas was born July 1, 1924, in Hamburg, Ashley County, Arkansas. He was the son of Horace Jewell Christmas and Effie Mae Taylor Christmas. The details aren't fully known, but while Jack was very young Effie and Horace split, with Effie taking Jack with her. By the time Jack was age 5 (1930), Effie had remarried to Louie Shell, and Jack lived with them at 1504 Avenue L, in Lubbock, Texas. They were renting this house for $35 per month. The family remained in the Lubbock area until Jack was fourteen years old, and in 1938 they moved back to Hamburg, Arkansas.
In Hamburg, Jack was a Hamburg High School football player and a member of the band. Jack never excelled academically in high school. One year the high school superintendent told Jack he wasn't going to pass, and that he might as well quit and come back the following year. Jack did indeed quit, and at the age of 16 headed to Houston, Texas, with a total of three dollars in his pocket.
Once in Houston, a lady provided Jack a room until he got a job. Jack first worked as a service station attendant, then at a soda fountain of a Walgreen drug store. Jack's final Houston job was at the Dairyland Ice Cream Co. All the time in Houston, Jack's "steady", Ethyl Shell, had been writing him daily letters. As Jack put it, "at last I could stand it no longer," so he found his way back to Hamburg in May or June of 1941-with twenty dollars in his pocket this time. A little more than a month after Jack's return to Hamburg, he and Ethyl eloped to El Dorado, and were married on July 2, 1941. Jack was one day over seventeen, and Ethyl was sixteen years old.
Jack wrote Horace, his biological father in December, 1941, apologizing for not having written "all these years." After previously receiving a letter from Horace in 1940, Jack very much wanted to see his father, who was in California at the time. Jack packed his suitcase intent on leaving, but it upset Effie. Effie and his grandmother Taylor (Cora Jane Ray Taylor) talked him out of running off. It is known that Horace called Effie every Christmas to see how she was doing, even after Horace was happily remarried. Interestingly, Jack did not change his last name to Shell until after his marriage to Ethyl.
Five months after Jack's marriage to Ethyl, he wrote that he had "married the sweetest girl in the world. Never since we have been going together or since we have been married have we had the slightest fuss." Jack and Ethyl had their first child, a boy, in August 1942, soon after Ethyl's high school graduation.
Jack, still a teenager, held various jobs during their first few two years of marriage, with him employment influenced by the December, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. These jobs included working for the Hamburg Drug Company (August 1941-April 1942), working in Pine Bluff at the arsenal, as well as selling insurance there (May-June 1942), and a draftsman for an architectural engineering firm in Ruston, Louisiana, where an internment camp was being built (July-November 1942). Finally, Jack & Ethyl moved to Orange, Texas, where he worked as a draftsman for a ship building company, Consolidated Steel Corporation (December 1942-July 1943).
On July 5, 1943, in Orange Co., Texas, Jack enlisted for service in World War II, and officially joined the Army Air Force on August 4, 1943 with service number 02090046. Jack went through the Army Air Forces Twin-Engine Pilot School, a two year course with the first six months at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. After six months in Pennsylvania, Jack and Ethyl moved to Sherman, Texas where he would earn his flight wings. There was also a period of flight training time in Pampa, Texas. After his graduation and commissioning as a Second Lieutenant on May 23, 1945, he was made the Squadron Adjutant of Selman Field, Louisiana. After a brief stay at Selman Field, Jack went to Robins Field, Georgia, where he supervised the Drafting force. Duing this time, the war in the European theater ended (July 1945) and Jack was subsequently given orders to go to Germany. Jack was stationed at Erding, Germany, as a pilot in the 43rd Air Depot Group (ADG) of the 9th Air Force Service Command. He also had duty as the Base Utilities Officer of The European Air Depot. Jack's flight records indicate he flew the Stinson L-5 Sentinel, the Beech C-45 Expeditor, and the Douglas C-47 Skytrain (the military version of the first popular commercial airplane, the DC-3).
Jack was in Germany around six months before returning to Hamburg, and due to the military drawdown was forced to leave the Army Air Force on February 17, 1947 at the age of 22 with the rank of First Lieutenant. Jack then purchased an army surplus airplane, and had it converted into a crop duster. Jack also became the owner and operator of the Place Hotel Cafe in Hamburg, but only for a short period. In late 1949 Jack bought a cafe in North Crossett, and where he and Ethyl moved in order to run the restaurant.
Jack's life would tragically be cut short. Shortly after midnight on April 22, 1950, Jack was flying back from Little Rock having been to a job interview. He was attempting to land on the Crossett airfield, and mistook the lights of a farmer out repairing a fence as the airfield lights. Jack suffered head injuries, and was taken to the Crossett Health Center. He died on April 23, 1950, some 30 hours after the crash. He departed this life leaving Ethyl who was two months pregnant with their fourth child. Jack is buried in the Hamburg Cemetery, Ashley County, Arkansas.