The Lewisville Quintuplets

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Lewisville became the talk of Texas in July 1975 when the state's first set of quintuplets (four girls and one boy) were born to Jerry and Debbie Davis on July 18. Newspaper stories below tell the story of their birth, and a follow-up 23 years later. 

 Mom and Babies Doing Fine
 (published Tuesday, July 22, 1975)
By PHIL STEPHENS / Lewisville Daily Leader

DALLAS – Monday, she had her first press conference, but Mrs. Debbie Davis handled it smoothly and calmly. After all, she’d just had five babies at one time, so a group of nosey reporters weren’t going to bother her.

And five babies? After getting over her initial shock a month ago when the doctor said she was going to have at least four, one more wasn’t that big a deal for her Friday. “It’s just one more baby to be proud of,” Mrs. Davis said.

So the Davis are as proud as they can be of their five but they don’t plan any more. “I don’t plan to have any more nannies,” the 20-year-old mother affirmed.

Mrs. Davis smiled prettily in a pink and black robe for the cameras, while her husband Jerry, joined her in answering questions about their future. She seemed to have the contented glow that all young mothers have when they have a chance to talk about their new babies.

Debbie also had the complete list of names for the quints. The boy is Casey Clifton. The girls are, Christa La June, Chanda Jannae, Charla Rae Ann and Chelsa Lynnae.

The young mother said she and her husband weren’t trying for a multiple birth when she took a fertility drug while she was under the care of Dr. Frank Knopp of Irving. In fact, they didn’t even know it was a fertility drug.

“The doctor told me the drug (Cloid) would regulate me,” the Lewisville mother said. “I only took it five days.”

After the couple were married June 23, 1972, they decided to have children a few months later. They were unsuccessful, and in December of that year she went to Dr. Knopp.

She remained under his care until two weeks before the birth, and transferred from Irving Community Hospital to Parkland because of complicities doctors knew would happen with the multiple birth.

Mrs. Davis wants to get home as soon as possible to fix up another nursery in their house. “We had one room ready with two beds. Then we arranged to get two more beds. Now we need to fix another nursery and get another bed.” The couple live in a three-bedroom rent home at 1007 Lakeshore Drive.

Her husband isn’t sure his house will ever be ready for five babies but Mrs. Davis doesn’t want to move until they have to. “The Boyntons (landlords) have been so nice to us.”

The couple hasn’t had the time since the multiple birth to be alone that they want. “There has always been a doctor with us or reporters,” Davis said. “As Debbie gets better we can be alone to discuss how we are going to handle five babies.”

The 21-yar-old husband is ready for his wife to come home. “I am staying at the hospital all the time,” he said. “I get here early and stay late. I just get a chance to sneak away to Lewisville very now and then.

“I went home the other night and opened the front door. I looked in and it was sure dark and lonely, and there wasn’t any supper ready either,” Davis recalled.

Mrs. Davis is expected to be able to come home in one or two weeks.

“We sure need some time together, alone to talk things over,” Davis said.

Some of the problems they face include a formula for the babies and bottles and feeding equipment. “Similac” has arranged to furnish formula for the babies as long as needed and “Evenflo” will furnish bottles and accessories, according to Davis.

Debbie admitted another bonus with he five kids. Christmas will seem like the Christmas’ she has always known.

“I come from a large family of four girls and a boy and have always enjoyed a big Christmas at home,” she said. “Christmas around our house has been a little empty but it will sure pick up now.”

Monday was also another “first” for the proud father. He bought his son’s first hat, a Diamond Rio cap from Bond Equipment Co. where he works.

When asked if the girls would pick on Casey, the boy, Davis quickly said, “no. Debbie will have lots to do with those girls, but I have a lot of plans for the boy.”

As they wheeled Mrs. Davis back down the halls at Parkland, the whole hospital came alive as smiling faces peeked from doors and around corners.

As one of the interns said, “The whole hospital is proud of them.”

 Now 23, North Texas first quintuplets are still close
 (published Monday, June 15, 1998)
 By JAN JARVIS / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

ARLINGTON, Texas - As babies, they were each assigned their own colors that identified everything from their blankets to the frosting on their birthday cakes.

Almost 23 years later, the colors of their childhood have not been forgotten by the Davis quintuplets, the first born in Texas.

"Yellow is still my favorite color," said Chanda Davis, who works as a bank teller in East Texas. "We all also had a letter that they gave us. Mine was 'C.' "

The letters, which were marked on the bottom of the children's shoes, were just one of the ways that Debbie Knox kept up with her five busy babies.

"If they got a spot on their shoe or a buckle was missing, you can bet that it didn't belong to anybody," she said, explaining how young children often don't admit when they've done something wrong. "I had to mark the bottom of their shoes 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' 'D,' 'E' based on their birth order."

Today the Davis quints - Christa, Casey, Chanda, Charla and Chelsa - have gone on to college, careers and lives of their own. Christa Felts, the eldest, and Chelsa Steele are married, and each has a child. Casey Davis is a college student studying psychology. The other two keep busy with their jobs. They all stay close despite living in different cities.

"They are my best friends," Christa Felts said.

The birth of the Zuniga quintuplets this week, the second set in North Texas, brought back many memories for the Davis family. Like the Zuniga quintuplets, who were born Monday, the Davis quints were delivered at Parkland Memorial Hospital and by the same physician. And like the Davis quints, the newest set of five babies were also first known as "A," "B." "C," "D," and "E."

One difference between the families is the sexes of the babies. The Davis quints are four girls and one boy. The Zuniga quints are four boys and one girl.

Since the Davis quints were born on July 18, 1975, Parkland officials say, 300,000 babies have been delivered there.

The Zuniga babies face a lifetime of fun and the unique challenges that being a quintuplet brings, the Davis family said.

Although they could hardly wait to move out on their own for the first time, all of the quints had a difficult time adjusting to life without their siblings close by, Ms. Knox said.

Charla Davis, who had always said she wished she were an only child, later told her mother that it was terrible being alone. Chanda Davis, who shared a room with her identical twin Chelsa, said she was lost without her. As children, they always played with each other and never had a moment alone, she said.

"The hardest thing was leaving and finding our own friends," she said.

But watching the quints move away was most difficult for their mother, who now lives in Irving and is learning to cope with a suddenly silent home.

"I had such a fun house with so many kids," said Ms. Knox, who is divorced from the quints' father. "Now I've adapted, but I think I prefer the way it used to be. It was a really, really special life."

It was a whirlwind world of strict bedtimes, sit-down dinners, soccer games and band practices. Along the way, there was the occasional commercial, talk-show interview or trip.

For Ms. Knox, who lived in Lewisville when the quints were born and returned to work full-time when they were about 3, keeping track of five busy children was always challenging and fun. The family moved to East Texas when the children were school-age to escape media attention.

From dawn until dusk, their lives were always hectic.

"I used to pick them up from day care, and all five would be talking at once telling me what they did," she said. "I would have a headache before I ever got out of the parking lot."

Bedtime was equally wild. Ms. Knox would close all the shades at 7 p.m. so they would go to sleep. When the children were little, they all played on the same soccer team so Ms. Knox had only one game to go to, but as they got older and they were involved in different activities, she faced new challenges.

"I wanted to go to everything they had," Ms. Knox said. "But I couldn't be in two places at the same time."

Christa Felts said she didn't get one-on-one attention with her parents simply because it wasn't possible. But they never lacked for anything, from clothes to a car, she said.

"The only thing I hated was having to share everything, even toothpaste," she said. "Now I'm not sharing with anybody - nothing."

Clothes played a surprisingly big part in the lives of the Davis quints, at least for the four girls.

Until the children started elementary school, Ms. Knox said, she dressed them all alike, something that always caused a commotion.

"People would make a big deal of it when we would go to the zoo," Ms. Knox said. "They'd line us up instead of the monkeys. It got old when we went to Pike's Peak and attracted more attention than Pike's Peak."

Chanda Davis said she recalls often sharing clothes and enjoying the advantages of having four other wardrobes to choose from.

But her mother recalls a different experience. A walk-in closet the size of some bedrooms was designed with four rods to give each girl her own section.

"Literally, it was a disaster," Ms. Knox said. "That was where they fought, because they had no privacy. There was no place they could stash their favorite top. If they put it in the closet, it was like putting it in a rack in the mall. Both mirrors in the closet were shattered within months."

As a boy, Casey Davis was the only quint with his own bedroom and bathroom. But he took his role a little too seriously, often trying to be the protective brother, Ms. Knox said. Eventually, he realized he had to back off, she said.

Looking back on the past 23 years, Ms. Knox said it went by too fast. She said she hopes the Zunigas enjoy some of the same extraordinary experiences that she had as a parent of quintuplets.

Among her most cherished memories is of her children's graduation from kindergarten, Ms. Knox said. Wearing caps and gowns, each child in the class walked down a runway and handed a rose to his or her mother.

"Then all five of mine walked side-by-side and handed me five roses," she said. "I thought I would die."
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Distributed by The Associated Press