Looking Back – Texas and Seasons of the Heart – Volume III

By Sarah J. Walker 

Introduction: Well, hello everybody out there. I promised I’d be back again with some more of Looking Back, so with God’s help here I am.

Hope everyone had a good year. I certainly did, barring a few dizzy spells and other minor problems as old age creeps upon me.

Well, a few have come and gone since last we met. A new one came and another has gone. Just like the Seasons; they too come and go.

In the book of Ecclesiastes – Chapter 3, King Solomon enlightens us as to these seasons. He tells us that to everything there is a Season.

There is a time to sow and reap;

A time to come and go;

A time to talk and a time to be quiet;

And to everything under the sun, there is a time.

And I believe there is no other place under the sun than growing up on a farm in Texas that this is more evident. I think most of you can agree as well. You can see, hear, feel, and smell the seasons as they come and go. The Monarch butterflies as they migrate from Canada to Mexico each spring. Right on time there is a flock of geese flying to their winter home in the fall. The far-off crow of a rooster is there every morning at four o’clock out on the farm – right on time.

Did you ever stop and think how blessed we are to be able to revel in all the things the Season has to offer?

Summer: Corn and Wheat:

I remember when they used to station the Cook Shack (as we called it) (or the Chuck Wagon as the cowboys called it), out near the fields where the noon-day meal was cooked and served to the hungry workers during the Wheat Season. The wives of the workers, most of them, had this chore, and they were good cooks. These workers had the best of the best fresh, organic food from the gardens and orchards of the workers themselves.

The days were long and hot, and as the sun began sinking in the West they headed toward home for a shower and cooling of period on the front porch, where they browsed through the daily mail which contained some their periodicals, such as the Farm and Ranch, Oklahoma Farmer Stockman, and Saturday Evening Post.

This was a nich way to relax, plus sometimes they could hear the singing of the church choir during prayer meeting service as the evening breeze drifted that way. The church was just dow the road a ways.

Grandpa would usually have a chew of Red Mule to help bring on a restful night, I guess!

Corn Gathering: Well Winter is Coming On

Betty and I had the chore of feeding the chickens. We would go to the barn shell the corn and feed the chickens. Some of those evenings would become pretty chilly, especially if a Texas norther were blowing. On one such evening we decided we would just stay down there and sleep on the fresh cotton seed. It looked so warm and cozy. I was hoping a skunk or rattlesnake wouldn’t come in to sleep too!

The evenings were usually spent leaning back in cane-bottom chairs reading or listening to the Grand Old Opry. There was no TV. Sometimes we would play dominoes or 42 and pop some corn, or pull some taffy.

The nights would get pretty cold sometimes. There were no modern heating facilities, just the fireplace and wood burning stove. But there were plenty home-made quilts which worked well and all made by our Grandmother during the summer Quilting Bees.

Spring – Little Lambs and Baby Chicks:

“If Winter Comes Can Spring be Far Behind?”. I don’t think so. I remember the bunch Mama hatched in the incubator. She built a little pen for them outside the front gate for them to play in and scratch around for worms and bugs.

When they were about frying size, they were in their big pen out back when one of those Texas blue northers hit the pen and huddled up to keep warm.

When Mama went out to fed the next morning, she found all her little chicks dead of asphyxiation. How sad; no fried chicken that summer.

Well, that was the end of Mama’s chicken raising. However, she did raise some turkeys to fruiting one year.

Then as spring sprang along, there were the cries of the newly-born lambs wanting to be fed.and the cows bawling too. I loved those country sounds and smells of the Seasons – newly-mown hay, cotton blossoms and corn tassels. Freshly broken earth getting ready for planting and the sound of the tractor, and windmill squeaking in the breeze.

Well spring went by in a hurry – way too soon.

Fall and Pecans: Now it’s fall already in the middle or late October and the smell of pecans in the air. They have shed their green husks and their brown and black striped shells view. It is time to head to the Pecan Bottom as it is called. We have to have some Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving, you know.

There has been a good rain and still muddy out there but the sun is out and bright. It will soon warm up; just one of those bright, cold frosty morning in Texas.

Joe Takes a High dive: Joe Pierce is out there picking pecans on a high bank near the river. Then, all of a sudden he starts slipping. He slides and slides, grabbing a hold of everything he could to slow down – A branch from a tree, or clump of grass, but everything just came right off or up and he kept on going right into that icy, cold water – shoes, clothes and all. Gee – what a dip!

Well his father and uncle were in the area and they heard him hollering and came over to help fish him oout. So luckily, everything turned out OK. It was bad, bute could have been worse; just a little excitement to help break the monotony of pecan pickin’.

You can always tell when it s fall when you hear the chatter of birds on far-off horizon and look up and see a flock of Canadian Snow Geese winging their way in precision toward their winter homes Yes, this is Fall for sure.

October 1936: Our First Train Ride. The Season for Big Fairs

Back in August of 1936, I received a letter from my cousin in Dallas writing me to come to see her and go to the Centennial. To the What? I thought.

Well I never thought much about it really as Dallas seemed so far away back then that it just seemed a world away.

Then in school everyone began talking about that “thing” in Dallas, even the teachers got into the fray, saying school would be closed so anyone who wanted to could go.

So, I went home that evening and told Mom that we didn’t have to go to school that weekend because everyone was going that thing in Dallas that Maxine was telling me about.

Well, the next morning Melba and I were lying in bed reminiscing about everyone going to the “thing” except us. It was quiet outside. Then Mom came charging in saying “you girls get up from there – we’re going to the Centennial. “What ? What didja say Mom”? “I said we’re going to the Centennial and I’ve got to gitcha some clothes.” “Well, how we going’?” “We’re goin’ on the train, of course”. I knew we had to go on something because Dad just had that little old sawed off pickup that he mae out of the old Whippit he had been driving for so long. He made sort of a convertible, only it didn’t convert, just a permanent open top and, of course, I knew we couldn’t go to Dallas in that!

Mama bought Melba and me beautiful swagger suits, very high style back then. Brown and yellow, green and gray; Also new shoes.

Lois, Dad’s niece met us at the station. We had never had much contact with this side of the family due to distance and circumstances. And we were jut elated to get to see all of them again – some we had never met. We had a happy, little mini-reunion, when we first arrived at aunt Effies’.

The next morning is drove us out to the fair grounds and we got to experience the Centennial. We rode the Ferris wheel, hobby horses, and looked at some of the exhibits. I remember the pink cotton candy specifically.

About that time it was getting pretty chilly. One of those Blue Texas Northers blew in. If you have ever been on the streets of Dallas when one of those things came through, you know what I’m talking about.

We were glad to see Lois drive up and take us back to her place and set us down to a dinner fit for King Tut, I think.

We enjoyed the familys’ hospitality. It was a kind gesture and was something that is still remembered.

I kept in touch with Lois for many years and as time improved and we were able to communicate fore frequently we enjoyed more visits and took some interesting trips together. She passed away a few years ago at the age of 96.

Daddy met us at the station and Mom killed three birds with one stone that fall, bless her heart. 1. Our first train ride. 2. Meeting and enjoying the company of our long lost relatives again. 3 Going to that thing called the Centennial. The Fall of ’36 – the best one of all.

See you next year. Sarah…..

Editor’s Note – Sarah Janice Walker submitted this story for the 2009 Walker Reunion held at San Saba on July 11.   Sarah lives in Tucson.