memories: May 2005 Archives

Neighborhood kids

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I remember playing “Sheep Beard Down” with all the neighborhood kids: Manuel Abalos, David, Dennis, Michael Wolfe, Debbie, Eddie, Buddy Caulder, sometimes Jane Kay and Eddie Hood. Daddy Would sit on the porch and drink beer and make sure we didn’t argue with each other. We would play till it was too dark to see anything.

– Ruth

Cellar

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I remember spending many nights in the cellar. Daddy would stand on the porch and tell you what the clouds and weather might be going to do; then he would rush us off to the neighbors cellar. (He sometimes would wake us in the dead of night and say “Lets Go!”)

– Ruth

Doodle Bug

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Doodle Bug, Doodle Bug – How does that song go??

– Ruth

Garden

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I remember helping Daddy in the garden. I didn’t seem to mind pulling weeds or pickin’ beans. My love of gardening must have come from then.

– Ruth

Green onions

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I remember picking green onions straight out of the garden (don’t even remember washing them — just biting the end off and spitting it out) eating the whole thing like it was a piece of candy.

– Ruth

Horned Toads

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I remember Hunting Horned Toads (for Mrs. Sockwell? – fifth grade teacher – she was shipping them to Saudi Arabia to kill ants there). We got a nickel a piece for the. Would hunt and hunt. They seemed to be everywhere back then. I haven’t seen one in years. When we had enough money, we would go swimming at the city pool for 25 cents each person. We did the same thing with Coke Bottle – a nickel a piece!

– Ruth

Cars

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Hours and Hours of playing cars in the dirt. We made towns and streets out of everything we could find. Best playing I ever done!

– Ruth

Watermelon

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I remember getting to choose between a watermelon and ice cream on Sunday afternoons. Never knew you should cut pieces of watermelon for each person. Daddy just cut it in half and gave us all spoons and the salt.

– Ruth

Candy bar

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Every once in a while, Daddy would take us to the store and let us pick out a candy bar. We would stand there for who knows how long trying to decide which kind — it was hard to choose ‘cause you didn’t know when you were going to get another one.

– Ruth

Laundry

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I remember doing laundry at the laundry mat on “the hill” every Sunday afternoon. Ronnie talked us into using slugs instead of quarters that Daddy gave us. It worked for several weeks until the owner caught us and then we had to drive to Bronte to do our laundry. Daddy finally bought a brand new electric wringer washer that sat outside the back door. We were moving on up!

– Ruth

Martin

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I remember China Berry fights out behind (Grandpa) Martin’s house. I remember smelling sawdust in Martin’s garage. I remmeber a closet at Martin’s with toys in it. Always playing with a plastic stage coach a corral with cowboys and indian figures.

– Ruth

Pie

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I remember Aunt Brenda giving us Hot Pecan or Apple Pie with ice cream melted on it. I had never had anything that tasted so good. (I was probably about 6 or 7 years old).

– Ruth

Mice

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I Remember Daddy being afraid of mice. Ronnie tied a plastic play mouse to a string by the back door in the kitchen one time and when daddy walked in Ronnie pulled it across the floor slowly. I thought Daddy was going to break his neck trying to get out the back door.

– Ruth

Tow

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I remember helping Daddy tow an old broke down car once; steering and controlling the one being pulled. He cursed and screamed at me the whole way. When I married Steve we had to tow his Mom’s car. He did the same thing. I will never tow a car again! Never!!

– Ruth

Tools

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I remember helping Daddy with a broke down car. He’s underneath hollering for the tool he needed. By the time you where (sic) 4 or 5 years old, you better know the difference between a screwdriver, a crescent wrench, etc. ’Cause if you handed him the wrong one…

– Ruth

Reading

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I remember reading under the covers with a flash light ‘cause thought you went to bed when it got dark. Another reason I probably prefer summer over winter!

– Ruth

Shut my mouth

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I remember Cliff telling a story and Shorty had to go to the bathroom. When he came out, he/Shorty made a statement, “You need to set your mouse traps!” Cliff heard, “You better shut your mouth trap!”. Cliff jumped up and hit Shorty in the mouth and said “Don’t ever tell me to shut my mouth”. We all went to laughing, including Shorty.

– David F.

Trapping

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One morning, Daddy went to check his traps, (he was quite a trapper, you know), and these were old time steel traps, where if you weren’t careful…you might get a finger or hand caught — or maybe worse. Well, anyway and the best I remember, this trap line was out on the Smith Bros. ranch (Willis & Royce). He checked his traps and started back to Robert Lee which was some 15 to 20 miles from the house. The first 3 or 4 miles coming out of the ranch was dirt road, with all the pot holes and “rub boards” common to West Texas dirt roads. Then you hit pavement, (which was the highway to San Angelo). People kept passing him & pointing as they passed. Of course, Daddy thought they were just being rude & he would hollar some obscenity like “If you was in such a hurry, you shoulda started sooner, Damned Idiot”. Anyway, he finally got home and got out of his ‘ole Chevy pickup. Lo, and behold, there on top of the cab was his 22 rifle he used to shoot the animals he caught in his traps.

What a hoot!!! Can you imagine anyone driving that slow, making turns, hittin’ bumps for 20 miles and still getting home with a rifle perched on your roof — What are the odds?

– Chunky

Heat

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I remember having one heater in the living room during the cold winter months. You would get ready for bed in front of it and run like crazy to a freezing cold bed that had a 100 lobs of quilts on it. We slept three to a bed most of the time. If you were the one in the middle, you sometimes actually got hot. Every time someone wanted to turn over all three of you had to turn over at the same time. When it was time to get up, you ran like crazy to get the heater in the living room.

Biscuits

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Three hundred sixty-five days a year, every morning, Dorothy put the coffee on and made biscuits. Biscuits for breakfast, biscuits for lunch, biscuits for supper — the best biscuits I ever ate or will. She tried to teach me how to make them, but they never looked or tasted like hers. After school, the first thing anybody did, was go to the kitchen table, take the cup towel off the big bowel in the middle of the table, take a biscuit, dig out the middle. Eat that and fill the hole with syrup. Um-Um, good! I can almost taste them, now.

With money scarce, it was too expensive to buy bread from the store — shoot — it was probably 10 cents a loaf!! A loaf of bread didn’t go too far with a house full of kids. And 10 cents was about as much as a dollar or more, compared to today.

– Brenda

Towsacks of snakes

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The car came to a screeching halt in front of the house. The doors flew open — out poured kids and Dorothy. “Get the hoe! There’s a snake loose under the seats!” One of the snakes found a hole in the towsack. It wasn’t unusual to have two or three towsacks of snakes in the floorboard of the car or under the bed at home. They had to be kept warm and safe. And don’t hurt or kill it. Catch it & sack it up, again.

– Brenda

Groceries

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About once or twice a month, Dorothy, Mama, and I would go to San Angelo to get groceries. Cliff would allow Dorothy about $20.00. Half for groceries and half for beer. No matter how much she had, half was for beer. It would be an all-day trip. The speed limit was 45 mph. Boy! That was really speeding. You open the windows (no air conditioner), put your hand out the window and play airplane. I bet we were going, at least, 35 mph!

MaMa knew Dorothy didn’t have enough money for lunch, so she would suggest we needed to go over on North Chadbourne Street to the Better Burger Stand. She would buy the burgers and cokes. It was a treat for all of us. That was the only time we ever ate out. Dorothy said one time, that was the best day of all. She loved Better Burger burgers. I did, too (with lots of onions)!

By the way, I was 12 years old and would drive MaMa to San Angelo.

– Brenda

Family Day

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Every Sunday was Family Day — put on a pot of red beans and corn bread, make potato salad, fry the chicken or cook a roast. Make pies — always chocolate, and lemon or peach cobbler.

Cliff, Dorothy and all the kids would come to “MaMa and Nem’s”. Dinner was at 12:00 noon. The grown-ups would sit at the big table in the dining room and the kids would sit at the kitchen table in the kitchen. The grown-ups would have coffee, tea and milk. The kids usually always had Kool-Aid or milk. After dinner, the women would clean up, wash the dishes and go out on the front porch. The kids would go out and play. The men were already out there. In the winter, we could to to the living room — sit, talk, and visit. Sometimes, we would cut a watermelon or make homemade ice cream — everybody had a turn at the crank.

– Brenda

Gifts

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We would get one toy — mine was usually a doll. Frankie would get a truck or guns-with-holster. Anything else was homemade clothes or socks and underwear. That was when I would get my new flannel nightgown for that year — homemade.

I would save up the coffee cans all year. The week before Christmas, I would bake cookies. I’d wrap the cans in pretty paper and cut circles for dividers. In a big can, I would layer cookies, nuts, and candy — put a bow on it. That is what we would give to the kids for Christmas — couldn’t afford to buy gifts. It was so much fun to do. It was more fun to do that than to get a gift — it was a tradition.

– Brenda

Storms

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Well, I guess it’s just nature. Dorothy always was afraid of storms. She and Cliff would head up all the kids and head to the house to go to the cellar. We have a big ‘ole thunderhead building in the Northeast. I had to call Gary and the others to tell them to keep an eye on it — turn on the weather stations!!

We don’t have a cellar, but if I had one, I probably would get the jug of water, blankets, candles or ‘ole kerosene lamp and head for it. I get pretty nervous when a storm comes up—I worry over the kids—that’s probably why they get nervous.

MaMa and Daddy (MaMa Nem and Martin) had good reason to be afraid of the water—they got washed out a couple or so times when they lived on the farm—not to mention, burned out twice.

– Brenda (written 6/11/04 at 9:45 pm)

Remember

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Remember:

  1. The kitchen table and benches…
  2. Charlie, the lead goat—wouldn’t eat weeds—only the good stuff…
  3. Taking turns in the bathroom—and taking a tub bath…
  4. Getting dressed and ready for school…
  5. Sharing—when there was only a little—everybody got a taste…
  6. Playing “Hide & Seek” on a warm, summer evening…
  7. Getting new shoes—Dorothy would draw the outline of everybody’s foot and go buy shoes—couldn’t take everybody shopping at one time.
  8. Drinking Kool-Aid was a treat…
  9. “Hand-Me-Down” clothes…
  10. All the little things, that was taken for granted—that’s just the way it was—didn’t know any better.

– Brenda

Weekly Schedule

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I remember the days before television…

Monday:

Do chores: clean house, cook, etc. Wash Day: make a fire pit in the back yard. Fill the wash pot with water. Get it to boiling. Do the whites first. Stir around with a big stick. Take out with stick and put in the rinse water with the bluing. Take out, ring out & put into pot with clean rinse water. Ring out (by hand) & hang on line. Then, do the same with coloreds. Took all day, usually Monday. Later, we got a Maytag washer with a ringer that you cranked—it sat on the back porch.

Tuesday:

Do chores: clean house, cook, etc. Ironing day—set up ironing board. Do the shirts, dresses & pants. Blue jeans had to be creased. Sheets & pillow cases folded just right. Everything hung on hangers & put away. Took all day…

Wednesday:

Do chores: clean house, cook, etc. Wednesday was baking day. I was almost a teenager before we got rid of the wood cook stove and got a butane stove. That’s about the same time we got the bathroom built in the house. Before then, we bathed in a #3 washtub (same one we washed clothes in) in the kitchen, because we heated the water on the wood cook stove. If the water wasn’t too dirty, the next one would use the same water. Back to the baking on Wednesdays — bread— enough for the week. Cakes, cookies and any sweets for the week.

Thursday:

Do chores: Cook. Thorough house cleaning, such as taking mattresses, cushions, stuffed furniture outside to be beaten and sunned.

Friday:

…was grocery shopping (after you did your morning chores—cleaning house, cooking, etc) We did out own canning. Grew most vegetables, raised a couple of pigs and had a few chickens.

Saturday:

Our potty was out back in the outhouse. It was a “one-holer.” It was kept very clean, by using lime to break down the deposits and smell—Saturdays.

Sunday:

A day of rest. But first—your chores. Cook for a crowd ‘cause Sunday was “Family Day.”


Go to school (do your chores before and after)

Chores included: make breakfast, clean up afterwards, make the beds, sweep and mop. Make lunch, which was red beans and cornbread or any leftovers from the day before. Clean up. Start prepping for supper at 6:00pm. After supper, clean up, wash dishes, dry with a towel, and put away. Feed and water the chickens, gather eggs in the afternoon. Do the gardening because most of our vegetables were gathered, eaten and canned for the winter months—this included beans, peas, corn, okra, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes. Some years we grew peanuts. We had peaches, grapes and would do pecans on the halves—we pickup—keep half.

We would raise two hogs; which Daddy would butcher in the Fall. That had to last all year. We traded eggs for fresh cow’s milk—a friend had a cow. After MaMa and Daddy moved from the farm (before I was born) and moved up to the old house, we didn’t have a cow. Also, sold eggs to the grocery store in exchange for groceries. MaMa took in ironing and washing (when she was able). I helped. Daddy would go hunting for deer, rabbit, etc. He would trotline fish and gig for frogs. He trapped on the side, when he didn’t have much carpentry work and sharpened saws. Frankie went to work helping Daddy build houses, when he was about 10 to12 years old. When MaMa got too sick, I took over the household chores. I started cooking at about five years old. At night, after supper, we would gather around the radio and listen to Gunsmoke, The Shadow, Arthur Godfrey, Jack Benny, Amos and Andy and The Grand ‘Ole Opry.

We would listen to a couple of shows and go to bed about 8:00 – 9:00pm sometimes. Had to get up early—chores, schools and more chores. You know, I don’t remember being bored and having nothing to do. Didn’t do a whole lot of playing.

Some of the things we played was hide & seek, jump rope, jacks, make mud pies, make a lot of our toys out of wood scraps. After Frank went to work, he bought himself and me a bicycle. He had a BB gun, too. We’d go fishing, camp out, craft things, play cars in the dirt, Simon Says, Red Rover, I Spy, build a tree house/clubhouse, go swimming, ride bikes, play dress-up, string buttons, puzzles and board games. We always had 10 or 15 kids at our house in the evenings and weekends. I did a lot of baby-sitting, some of them as old as myself. We lived close to the school and all the school teachers and all their kids were at our house. They would leave me in charge. Well, I got off on another track, but it all worked in together because Dorothy’s kids were there too.

We didn’t have carpet—wood, splintery floors and luck if they had linoleum on them. You’d sweep the dirt into the cracks and then scrub with hot sudsy water—they were worn pretty slick, but once in a while you’d get a big ‘ole splinter in your foot. I had to have one cut out. Daddy cut part of it out, But ended up having to go to Shannon Hospital for surgery to get it all. That was a long trip. I had to stand up in the front seat with my foot on a towel (old ’49 Chevy 4-door with Suicide Doors). I couldn’t sit down or ride in the back because I would get carsick. So, here we went, speeding to San Angelo—I bet we were going 45 mph!

I guess we had it rough, but we didn’t know any better—actually, I think we were better off than most people. We were rich! We just had to work hard to have it. Frank and I would go around town and pick up coke bottles to sell for 3 cents each, so we could go to the movies—it cost 12 cents to get into the movies, so we would have 3 cents for the penny machines. One penny would buy a hand-full of candy—Boston Baked Beans, Gumballs or Milk Duds. Popcorn was 5 cents—that was a lot of money. We would look for coke bottles all week—we lived close to the school and football field. Early Saturday morning, we would go over to look under the bleechers (sic.) and kick the gravel around (all around the concession stand). Sometimes, we were lucky and would find money—nickels, dimes, pennies. People were pretty careful—they didn’t lose too much. Wending machines were a good place to find change, too. You need a good long stick to fit underneath and rake it out.

Babies

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Dorothy always said “One on the tit, and one on the way.” Seemed like she was always going to have a baby. Said she had rather be pregnant than go to the dentist. And every time she had a baby, she had to go to the dentist — tooth pulling or something. I don’t remember which one, but she was having trouble weaning off the breast. It had to be done before the new baby came. Bluing was used in the rinse water to whiten the clothes. So, she painted “blue” around the nipples. It didn’t really have too much effect. The baby just looked at them and sucked anyway — so, she had blue nipples and a kid with blue lips. She decided to be a little more drastic, so she dabbed jalapeño juice on them. That worked!

– Brenda

forts

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I remember building forts, digging for days, sometimes weeks till we had a huge hole dug — throwing old lumber or pieces of tin over the top — our clubhouse for the summer

– Ruth

Rain

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I remember playing in the rain; it rained so much our front drive would be a small pond. We would drag the old metal slide around. Muddy but what fun!

– Ruth

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