November 28, 2016 - In the spring of 1938, Mother took this picture of me. It was my first picture and was taken on Maxwell Street in Center, Texas. This red clay street was too rough to drive on when dry and too slick to drive on when wet. As I studied this picture last week, memories popped up everywhere. I immediately spotted the hill where we had dug up arrowheads. We called it “the hill where the Indians used to live.”
My grandparents lived next door in a house that looked just like ours. All Maxwell Street houses looked alike. They had a water well, an outdoor toilet and a wash pot in the back yard. The well’s water bucket became our refrigerator when we loaded it with milk and butter and lowered in the well. A number 2 wash tub of sun-warmed water and a bar of Mama’s (my grandmother’s) home-made soap got us “clean as a whistle”. We didn’t bathe every day but had to wash our feet every night before going to bed.
We were overjoyed when Daddy brought a box of “Post Toasties” home one morning. When we asked for some, Daddy replied, “Yes, but you’ll have to eat your breakfast first”. So after gulping down our oatmeal, we ate our first-ever bowl of Post Toasties. Since none of us wore shoes, we often got painful bruises on our feet. These bruises (called “stone bruises”) were injuries to the bone and not the skin.
While Mother was visiting Mama one day, I saw smoke pouring from the windows of our house. When I screamed, “The house is on fire!” Mother and I ran into the house and grabbed my sleeping sister from a pallet on the floor. We got “Sissy” and her goldfish out just in time.
After our house burned, we moved to a house on Cotton Ford Road and eventually our family grew to ten children. I have vivid memories of all the years of my life, but none more vivid than the year of 1938. We were without doubt the poorest family on Maxwell Street, but in the ways that really matter….