Wilma “Billie” Garlett Provonsha
Interview by Detta Dahl
Q: What is your full name?
A: Wilma Lorene Garlett Provonsha but I’ve been “Billie” all my life.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born January 3, 1929, at home, on a farm in southern Missouri, in the Ozarks not far from the Arkansas line.
Q: When you were born, what were your parents doing?
A: My father was a farmer; my mother was taking care of kids. I was the fifth child in a family of nine. When I was two years old I had spinal meningitis. I had to learn how to talk and walk all over again; I lost all my hair.
Q: You were two years old, do you remember this?
A: No, I don’t; I’ve been told. My mother used to dress me in my brother’s clothes. He was two years older than I and made me into a boy until I got enough hair so she could put a dress back on me. My father had made a tomboy out of me since I was born because he wanted a boy. I was supposed to have been “William” after his brother, Will and my mother had a brother, Will. Since I wasn’t a boy, I became Wilma and was Billie all my life. When I was born, my father only had one son and three other daughters, so I became a tomboy. He taught me to hunt.