"I Remember":  Memoirs of
Hattie Belle Arledge Milburn (1902-1982)
of Crockett, Houston County, Texas

Hattie Belle was the daughter of Henry Jones Arledge and his wife Jennie Bond. Her grandparents, John Fisher Arledge and Harriet Jones, had migrated with other family members from Limestone County, Alabama to Houston County, Texas, in late 1853. The Arledge House at 718 E. Houston Avenue (pictured above as it looked in 1905) was the center of the life of the Arledge family.

Hattie Belle was an avid family history researcher as well as a writer, and upon her death, her papers were deposited with the public library in Crockett, Texas. They have not been catalogued. Another descendant of the Crockett Arledges, Claire Younkin, has graciously transcribed some of Hattie Belle's memoirs for us. Many thanks to Claire for her contribution!

All material on this page submitted by Claire Younkin of Houston, Texas.
Page maintained by Pam Wilson for the Arledge Family History Project.

Be sure to peruse the Arledge Family History Project for other memoirs, stories, documents and genealogical information relating to the Arledge family of Houston County, TX.

The Water Tower and Other Memories
by Hattie Belle Arledge Milburn of Crockett, Texas
transcribed by Claire Craddock Younkin

The Water Tower is a curiosity on East Houston Avenue in Crockett, Texas. It was built back in the year 1909--or much earlier--and altho the original owners--the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Jones (H. J.) Arledge-- have gone, the Water Tower, built of hand-cut cedar shingles, STILL stands staunchly as a sort of monument to a mode of life back in the very early days of the 20th century. The Old House facing East Houston Avenue (which in earlier days was called El Camino Real--The King’s Highway) goes down in the History of Crockett as one of the First Twenty-five houses built on the main thoroughfare leading into the City of Crockett and the Old (and first) courthouse. So deserves a Texas Medallion (Historical) as such. The Old House has several ‘Firsts’ to its credit:

a)  It was one of the first houses in Crockett to be piped with plumbing. BUT for many, many years thereafter . . . in the Wintertime . . . the pipes froze and would burst; and the old galvanized washing tub would have to be drug out for a warm and steaming Bath before a roaring fire in the open fireplace (and, the back of you would freeze stiff, while the front of you practically burned-up!) . . . and then & only then you would have to gingerly pull yourself up, being very careful not to step upon a cake of Fairy Soap, then turn around and lower yourself into the tub again. It was No Fun taking a bath on a wintry cold night--or, any night that was cold, and the wind outside 'whistling' to let you know it was COLD outside, too.

b)  The little white house on the East side of the lawn first housed No. 20, the first large car in Crockett. It was a great 'big car' (to us), a comfortable riding grey car . . . an OAKLAND . . . and the boys of the family soon added a whistle that sounded like a real live wild-cat. It is needless to say that that 'wild-cat' whistle could be heard for miles, and quite often DID scare the inhabitants quite often into thinking there was a real-live wildcat roaming this area . . . for in those areas wildcats often came into town, to prey on the chickens and such.

c)  We had one of the first telephones. Dad was one of the first subscribers for a telephone that you cranked to get 'Central'. Our number was No. 58, and we kept that number for many, many years. Yes, our Central was one of the Best. If you phoned and couldn't get your party, you could phone back to her and she could tell you where you could likely locate them.

d)  With the buying of a car. (Dad, on one of his trips to Fort Worth to sell his carload of cattle at a good price . . . brought the Big Car...The Oakland... back with him, and he didn’t know HOW to drive!!) So for about a year . . . Dad hired an excellent chauffeur who was not only strictly hired as such, but got good lodging and board. The chauffeur drove him to town and on my Dad's trip down to the Trinity River Farm and Plantation . . . or to Dallas over terrible roads, hub-deep in black sticky gumbo roads, or over clay hills that you would slide back an inch or two (or three) before you could go forward again, and TRUST that you would go forward again, or hit deep sand that would cause the car wheels to spin. Sometimes the Oakland would 'get stuck' by sliding too far on a clay hill, or 'get stuck' in pulling up the embankments at the Trinity River ferry, and sometimes the car had to be pulled out of mud . . . or deep, deep ruts by a team of mules or horses by good neighbors (who were glad to lend a helping hand in those days). It is needless to say right here and now--if Dad owned a car, he needed a chauffeur to go with it! But . . . in time, his boys--Edgar, Roy (nicknamed the Judge) and Henry (nicknamed Cat)--learned to drive (that is around Grace Street, and around the Court House Square, up-town . . . and THAT is as far as there were ever allowed to drive around the city . . . in an era where we didn't have good roads.

The three-storied Water Tower (with a great big galvanized 200 gallon tank atop the Tower), as to the real usefulness, would not be complete without the tall windmill nearby, for together they served the purposes for which they were built . . . to have good well water for drinking purposes; for the plumbing system in the house, and, to fill the trough (to overflowing) in the barnlot, so that the horses, mules, cows, and such would not got thirsty. Along about four o'clock, the long chain that locked the huge blades (to keep them from turning) was unfastened . . . and then the Wind would catch the huge blades and make them spin 'round 'n 'round! Sometimes fast . . . then faster, and then again rather slowly, all according to the caprice and whim of the wind!! This type of 'power-plant' was just great for pumping the water in the deep earth, up to the tank . . . the huge 200 gallon galvanized tank, taking care of the surplus water so that we could have running water in the house! Later, Dad bought a gasoline pump, to aid the wind in its efforts to force the water up into the tank atop the tower. This needed to be done of course, when the air was very still . . . not all the time! But oh, that cool & refreshing water for drinking water. It was pure, and delicious to drink, and enjoy on a hot summer's day.

And too . . . as a child, I remember so well that the boys of the family then of high school age, used to take over the top floor of the Tower as their very own territory. (NO Girls Allowed!!) This law laid down by the boys used to exasperate the girls of the neighborhood (who wore their hair plaited, in pigtail fashion) who thought they were left out! Talk about Women's Lib!!! There wasn't any such thing in existence back in those days. And to see that KEEP OUT sign hoisted above a ladder leading to the The Office on the top floor served as a heated challenge as to whether the boys had a rightful right to say it was 'theirs' and to keep the girls out! The girls, then, in turn, developed their own ideas and rights. They blocked their entrance to the third floor and top of the tower (which you had to climb up to by a ladder, flat against the wall) by saying that the second floor area was theirs!! The called it The Princesses' Tower, and they charged the boys that they couldn't enter it to get to their top tower and office!! Mother, on many a morning's occasion, had to come to the rescue, and settle the dispute.

An Era for Tennis

This old home--on El Camino Real in the Crockett, Texas area can go down as a real old-fashioned American home--with parents who made a home in Crockett, Texas, took part in the religious, social and civic life of the community, and, who loved their children and, oftentimes 'joined in' in the activities that all members participated in. My parents believed in providing activities 'at home' for the children and, having six children, the homeplace often became a mecca for the young people of the neighborhood. There was a Tennis Court on the east side of the lawn, where every afternoon, at four o'clock, in the good-ole-summertime, the young people of the neighborhood would gather for tennis matches. A few who gathered here to play tennis were: Arch Baker, Dan Craddock, Harvey Bayne, Frank Chamberlain, LeRoy Moore, Hunter Warfield, Robert Reid Nunn, Grace and Sue Denney, Edgar, Roy and Henry Arledge, Genevieve Eichaelburger, Jack Beasley, Judith Arledge, and Bitsy Arledge, Hilllie Hart Johnson of Marlin, Texas, Seawillow Johnson of Marlin, Texas, Virginia Chamberlain, Ruth Warfield, Hallie Aldrich, Milton and Arthur Thomas, and a host of others.

There was a car, a Victrola with all the latest records from operas, or Bands: dance music, ballads, popular music, folk songs, heart songs and patriotic songs to enjoy anytime of the day and especially at night. There was a piano in the parlor where young folks gathered in the evening to sing those wonderful and beloved heart-songs of long ago. And on occasion, the boys brought along a box of candy--Norris Chocolates or Jacobs Chocolates that made the evening perfect. And on June 19th, we celebrated Emancipation Day along with the 'hired hands' as they celebrated Juneteenth down on the Trinity River Farm or Plantation. And what food!! There were huge platters of barbecued goat, huge platters of fried chicken, fried fish, fried to a golden brown, fried squirrel, great slices of watermelon that had been iced down before cutting, corn bread, hot biscuits the size of a teacup, home-made pies, jellies, cakes in a choice that was hard to make, strawberry soda-pop, orange soda-pop, cream sodas a-plenty, and barrels of ice cold lemonade, all you could drink. Besides home made cakes filled with blackberry jam, or loaf cake filled with a soft lemon filling, and just everything good that one can possibly imagine. There were other wonderful picnics down at the Trinity River Farm, or at Blue Lake, or at Mill Lake---these picnics planned for the family and a few friends, would sometimes expand into the family and some fifty to one hundred friends. There were truly wonderful occasions, indeed.

*** Informational notes from Claire Craddock Younkin: Of the youths who gathered to play tennis, Dan Craddock and Judith Arledge married in 1914; Ruth Warfield married Roy Arledge ; Frank Chamberlain's sister, Katie, married Henry Arledge; Hillie Hart Johnson and Seawillow Johnson, I think, were nieces of Florence Johnson, who married Samuel C. Arledge.

Memories of Father

I remember my father as he hovered over the open fireplace to place a large backlog, that would burn slowly throughout the night. I remember the black iron shovel that so oftentimes was also used to cover up the fiery-red embers with ashes, to tide the embers over until morning light! Dad was a fellow that “went to bed with the chickens, and got up with the chirping of the sparrows.” Dad would get up early and poke and punch the backlog into a bright flame and stir the ashes until the embers
burned brightly; then, he would reach into the firewood box for bits of rich pine kindling and place them over the embers. The kindling would soon burst into a flame. Then, he would carefully place the little logs of oak on the brass andirons and soon the fire-making process would be completed. Then he would go outside to fetch his morning newspaper [the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle--he took both newspapers!] and settle down to read it. By this time, the fire would be burning brightly, with warmth enough for the little folks of the family to come in and stand by the fireside to dress.

I remember nights in front of the fire when we popped corn with a long-handled corn popper, so long that it reached well inside and over the open fire. And how we ALL enjoyed feasting on the hot buttered popcorn on a long winter's night, and as we sat around listening to the folklore our parents talked about. I remember my dad getting down on the floor to wrestle with ‘his boys’ in fun. I remember the times he took them hunting--for deer, squirrels, dove, ducks or quail--all in plentiful supply in the days of the past. I remember how he loved to take members of his family down to the River plantation--to go fishing--and I remember the magnificent strings of fish he caught. Dad, along with other good citizens became a champion for getting good roads, for ever afterwards.

My father was considered a very wealthy citizen in Houston County. To this kind of public relations talk, he would laugh in a good-natured way, and exclaim: “Rich?!!, Well, I'm not so sure about THAT!” He owned many acres of land, that's for sure, some in timber, some in cotton, some land that was poor, and some fertile. As he used to say, It is good to own land, but it can be a game of chance!! The fluctuation of land prices, the prices to be gotten for timber, the prices (and the rise and fall of them) of cotton markets, World War I, taxes, the levee on the Trinity River to protect from flooding, all took its toll in many anxieties, one after another. With a great deal of longing in my heart for my Dad, all I can say is . . . Hearts give way under such a strain, and one wintry rainy day in February, 1923, my Dad had a sudden heart attack and was gone before anyone could get a doctor. Oh, but what memories!!

The Goat Ranch

“The Goat Ranch” out East of Town, on Kennard Highway, used to be the scene of some wonderful picnics, too. This ranch was about 7 miles from Crockett, and was, in fact, easier to get to than the Trinity River farm. [My parents--for love and
affection--gave me some 1,200 acres of land known as The Goat Ranch. When they gave me this land, they also gave each of the other (five) children tracts of land of equal value down on the river. The river farms had the fertile, rich black land (River bottom land), along with timber. The East Pastures land had an excellent growth of pine trees and other valued timber, and was known, also, as good grazing land.]

A. There was a Sugar Cane Syrup Mill out at the Goat Ranch. The syrup mill was in operation for several years, in the Fall seasons; and, the procedure the operators used in making syrup (so thick you could cut it with a knife!) was really something very special to witness by children and grown folks, alike.

B. There was a wonderful garden planted in the Spring and Fall seasons of the year. And there were all types of fresh vegetables to gather in bountiful basketsfull. There were golden ears of corn: the stalks looking as if they'd reach the sky! And squash, pole beans, bush beans, bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and gourds on the fence that were always a curiosity to see, and to marvel over as to size and shape.

C. There were horses to saddle and ride. The children, of course, would get a gentle horse that you practically didn't have to more the reins to guide. But, there were spirited horses to ride, too, and for those who could ‘stay on’ and not fall off! After a ride around an enclosed pasture, some gentle person was there to reach up and lift you off the horse if you were a little tot.

There was so much to see and so much to do out at the Goat Ranch. It was always a joy to go out there with Dad and Mother. And there were goats (thousands of them) and their kids to watch. The goats were bought out in West Texas, around San Angelo, and brought to Crockett to the Goat Ranch, where their usefulness was in eating and clearing out a lot of the green undergrowth that was not needed. It was really a sight to see, (and one never to be forgotten)--to watch them come up( in a mass of white wooled formation) and in slow motion, to the barn to be fed. This was a wonderful experience for me, as a child.

In the Fall of the year, it was fun to hunt a sweet gum tree for the hardened sap. And it had better be HARD--or else when you picked the gum from a slashed cut on the side of the tree, it got all over your teeth--and there was nothing stickier!! But when you chewed fast, and faster, the gum mellowed into a real nice chewing gum with an unusual flavor. Hunting sweet gum, and even in picking and chewing some was a very special treat for a little girl who lived in town, visiting in the country.

There is so many wonderful things that nature shows us. The fall leaves, which turned crimson, russet, and gold were always beautiful, and I know one little girl that always brought an armful of golden leaves back to town each time she came home following a trip to the Ranch! Hunting wild violets and Johnny-Jump-Ups in the spring was another delight. The main ranch house was atop a high hill, and from a vantage point on the front porch -- in the fall of the year, one could look out over across the land and feel a peacefulness with all the world. In the fast on-coming dusk and through the low-hanging clouds of grey smoke, one also became aware of the rapidly approach of day's end. Sometimes there was still light in the Western sky, as an orange red ball of sun seemingly lingered and lulled in its time before sinking behind the horizon to end a perfect day. The Perfect Day, the Perfect Afternoon at the Goat Ranch ended that way many times . . . . It was always with reluctance that I listened to my parents call “Come, Hattie Bell, it's time to go home!” I remember these things so well! I can remember many yesterdays at the Goat Ranch, and at the Trinity River Farm place, just as wonderful, and just as beautiful as those I have already described.

The Kitchen Back at Home

I remember a huge kitchen graced by a giant, old-fashioned, wood-burning range with wide and deep ovens with space large enough to bake a turkey, ham or roast. Mother has lifted many a golden brown loaf of bread from that stove. She baked a marvelous peach cobbler, or date loaf, or fruit cake . . . with loving care, and anticipation of her family's delight. Mother had a cook at all times, but mother was not satisfied to leave all the cooking to them. She was there to supervise! I well-remember the cooks that we had--some staying with the family “for years”, others would “come and go.” But those that stayed on and on were a joy to have around. They felt a responsibility in their duties as a cook. The hot biscuits, waffles, baked breads, sausage, bacon, fried chicken and steaks were always turned out in a very special way--SO temptingly good! And in the Winter months, the oysters shipped in, usually from the port of Galveston, were crisply fried and placed into huge platters of them. During the oyster seasons, we often were served oyster stew, or oyster pie, oyster cocktails, or just plain raw oysters. [But, UGH, no eating raw ones for me!!!] In the season for deer and squirrels, or dove, or quail--well, these things today are very rare treats, but in my days, there were plentiful and a very special treat.

I remember in this home, [when my parents lived here], that they joined in the gatherings with the young people to supervise a “Candy Pull” in the spacious kitchen and in pulling taffy candy. Sometimes the young folks made peanut brittle/or/pecan brittle. I remember the mugs of hot chocolate topped with thick whipped cream and served before a crackling open-fire in the fireplace and, around which we all gathered & hovered over for a night after night enjoyment of a ‘family togetherness’ on cold winter nights. I remember the huge back log, and the firewood box, and the poker & tongs & shovel; and how, when the embers died down, my Dad would take the poker or the tongs to re-arrange the wood into burning better. I remember the rich kindling and the firewood that was brought in by the houseboy every afternoon, and placed in the firewood box, in order that we have plenty of wood through the night, should we need it. I remember my father as he hovered over the open fireplace to place a large backlog that would burn slowly through the night. I remember that just before everyone settled down for a wintry night's “nap,” Dad would place the fire screen in a just-right position to keep, or help ward off hot sparks that might pop out and burn the rug, or perhaps start a fire!! Dad believed in caution! And he practiced what he preached! I even remember the black iron shovel that so often was used to cover up the fiery red embers to tide the embers over until morning light. Dad was a fellow that “went to bed when the chickens did and got up with the chirping of the sparrows.” Dad would get up early, and poke & punch the backlog into a bright flame, and stir the ashes until the embers burned again brightly; then, he would reach into the firewood box for bits of rich pine kindling and place over the embers. The kindling would soon burst into flame. Then, he would carefully place the little logs of oak on the brass andirons and soon the fire-making process would be completed. By this time the fire would be burning brightly with warmth enough for the little folks of the family to scramble out of bed, and come in and stand by the fireside to dress.

He would then go outside to “fetch” his morning newspapers [both the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle]. ‘Spot’ or ‘Scuddar’ was a bird dog . . . a real bird dog-of-talent to hunt birds, and to keep his point on them . . . a hunter's delight! He was a black ‘n’ white spotted dog, and he earned his place in the lives of family members, as a favorite pet. Spot adored Dad. Spot was trained to be an excellent bird dog, but when it wasn't the season for hunting dove or quail, Old Spot made an excellent dog to fetch the morning paper. One morning during World War I, and things were so dismal about our Boys” at the front, Dad missed his newspaper. It was an upsetting morning because the only news in those days was through the newspaper--not radio or TV--Dad roamed the front yard several times thinking he might have missed the paper somehow . . . and Ole Spot followed along with an inquiring expression. Perhaps it was more like a baffled look, for that dog knew that something was wrong! Well, the whole day was spoiled. Newspaper subscribers in the neighborhood in those days were not
plentiful, nor were extra copies of the paper available. He gave up the thought of reading the paper that morning. He never did locate a paper, altho he often wondered where on earth that paper could have gone to. The carrier (who drove a horse and buggy to deliver his papers) ‘vowed’ that he had thrown that newspaper that morning. Three months later, it was discovered beneath an old blanket that Spot used for a bed in the dog house. When it was found, Old Spot wiggled and wagged, as if he knew that had been the paper that had caused such a ruckus a few weeks before.

I remember nights in front of the fire when we popped popcorn with a long-handled corn popper, so long that it reached well inside and over the open fire. And how we ALL enjoyed feasting on the hot-buttered popcorn. Later we sat around the room, enjoying the cozy warmth of it, and listening to the folklore our parents told us of former days, interspersed with stories their parents and grandparents had told them. You see, in those days there wasn't a radio or TV, or Juke Box, or Dairy Queen . . .  to spend a great deal of time at. There was a movie, but folks didn't go---especially on school nights. Our parents just didn't allow us to go to a movie. That was a time for studying, and most of us did just that! so most homes, as well as at our home, was where young people stay, or gathered after dark on weekends, but not on a school night! I remember my dad getting down on the floor to wrestle with “his boys” in fun. I remember the times he took them hunting---for deer, squirrels, dove, ducks or quail--- all plentiful in those days. I remember being awakened early in the morning, and tripping down the stairway in my
long white flannel gown with long sleeves, and watching in wonderment as Mom hurriedly fixed a good hot breakfast “for her men” before they started out for a day's hunt. The boiling hot coffee smelled wonderful. Breakfast was cooked by the light of a kerosene lamp. There was just something very special about the whole thing. Double-barrelled shot-guns needed to be readied, and a lunch hurriedly packed. All the time, Mom would be cautioning over and over to her boys and Dad, to “Do be careful.” The dogs would be chained and put into the back of a hack (drawn by one horse.) And blankets tucked into the back in case a blue norther suddenly blew in. And then the house grew quiet once again, and Mother and I went back to bed to catch a few more winks of sleep before getting up again to great the sunrise of another day!

I remember how he loved to take members of his family down on the River Plantation--to go fishing--and I remember the magnificent strings of fish we caught! Sun perch, bream, fresh water trout, catfish a-plenty. I remember the insurance or real estate men from Dallas and Fort Worth, and other friends of my Dad's who he wanted to entertain by taking them hunting on
the River Farm. Great preparations were made for these people. That was just Dad's way. Sometimes “Camp” was set up for the hunters . . . and as for deer . . . they had plenty of good luck and were happy, contented hunters to show off their luck after bringing back their game to camp. Then, there was a feast of everything good to eat that anyone finds in country life, and at this time there wasn't any such thing as “frozen foods.”

The Cotton Gin

Dad had a cotton gin for many years down on Blue Lake Farm. For a long time, it was about the only cotton gin in that Trinity River area, and people brought their cotton to be baled from that gin--bringing the wagons full of cotton from miles around. I remember Dad taking the family on a tour of the Gin to watch the procedures used in making a wagonful of cotton into a bale of cotton. It was amazing to watch a great tin pipe blower suck up so quickly the cotton used in bailing the cotton. It's hard to forget!

Hog-Killing Time

I have memories of Hog Killing Time at home, in Crockett. I remember sitting on the top of a boarded fence to watch helpers sort out and spot a great big 200 pound hog, cornering him in a corner of the lot, and slaughter him; then drag him out of the pen, wash the hog off, by putting him in a wooden barrel of scalding hot water. Then hang him up, scrape him, then throw bucket after bucket of clear, clean water to cleanse him, and do all the things necessary to actively get down to the final stages of cutting the hog up to make sausage meat, or stuffed sausage, or preparing the huge hams to cure and smoke. The final procedure was to hang the large hams up on the rungs of the Water Tower, and let them slowly cure under the pungent smoke from hickory wood. Home-baked ham with a real honest-to-goodness hickory flavor is a delight that is hard to find! The weather in January had to be watched very carefully. No warm days for killing a hog! Meat spoils easily, and sometimes just that kind of bad luck took place, but not too often. But when there was a blue norther, accompanied by a dismal snow white frost of an early morning and ice in the trough (that had to be broken before the stock could get water), with predictions
that the day would get still colder and end in a Freeze . . . THAT was a good sign to “kill a hog.” The Negro [hired hands] working for Dad would busy themselves in making further preparations that were deemed necessary in killing a hog.

Out in the back lot near the huge barn they would hurriedly build a makeshift scaffold. This was to hang the hog on after he was first thoroughly scalded in a huge wooden barrel. The water was heated to scalding in a great big black iron washing pot; the fire under the pot was kept burning furiously by the sticks of hickory wood that the [hired hands] would chunk under the pot to keep the fire going and the water rolling at its boiling point . Those [hired hands] worked so fast and often grew so cold themselves that they would back up to the fire in an attempt to warm themselves at intervals when there was a slight break in preparing the hog to be cut up. Finally, the hog was hung up and cleaned and scraped enough to satisfy the boss--then he was stuck with a knife and slit from is throat to his tail . . . . A gruesome sight for a novice! When this was done, the innards were taken out and placed on a wooden table and the edible pieces placed in a separate pile by themselves . . . souce (a German delicacy), to pickle pigs’ feet, to stuff sausage with, etc. Who, me? Well, I would leave the procedure of looking on along about that time, and didn't usually come back!! But the meat had to be cut into hams, and there was a certain selection delegated to be the meat for the sausage to be ground and stuffed. I remember the big black sausage stuffer, and the big black iron wash pot filled with fat rinds, that soon dissolved into bubbling hot shortening and cracklin’s that were lifted from the hot shortening and placed on a long wooden table to dry. I would be right there when it came to eating the cracklin’s!!! And first at the table when there’d be Cracklin’ Bread!! Oh , soooo good.....an extra special treat!

Domestic Help

“Sudie” was our wash-woman for many, many years. She had a million dollar smile--and a disposition to match. Sudie came to our house, from ‘way across town, every Monday morning, rain or shine, sleet or snow, for the clothes to be washed. And what a heap of clothes she had to tote on top of her head back to her home to be washed and dried (by the sun) and later to be carefully ironed, each piece ‘just so.’ “Be careful of your ironing, Sudie, and please don't scorch anything,” Mother would often caution. And sometimes, Sudie would say, “Miss Jennie, I'm going to ‘haf to have’ a box of starch this week, and some Ivory Soap" (Dad bought that by the carton!). Or, maybe sometimes, it was “Little Fairy Soap” or “Fel’s Naphtha” that Sudie needed. When Sudie would come for the clothes, she had a certain routine of gathering them. First, she would spread out a big sheet, then count all the clothes and sheets, and towels, and ‘Union Suits” (in the wintertime) and drawers, petticoats (that needed to be starched just so) and so on down the line. All these articles would be accounted for on a piece of paper---and accounted for at the end of the week when she returned them in a great big wicker basket, all starched and ironed to perfection! Just one time in all the years that I knew Sudie as a wash-woman, do I ever remember things being “LOST”: only just one “temporary occasion when a “dress-up cotton dress” failed to be returned on time. Mother had to remind Sudie that the dress had not come back in the clothes that were washed and returned. Even with this reminder--the dress still was not returned. Eventually, I was sent (in the buggy) to go see Sudie, and wait till she ironed . . . or ‘found’ the dress. I've always believed that Sudie, who had a little girl and same age and size that I was, had let her little girl wear my dress for some special occasion before it was returned. But we will never know for sure!

Zaybird Fain was the hired hand on the place for twenty-five years or more! He also pinched-hit for the gardener, the milkman, the house boy, the driver of the Phaeton or Surrey when Mother decided to go to town (we lived one block from the square) and the Cook. He was a general handyman: a handy man Supreme in quality of his work! He'd even donned a white coat, in proper manner, to assist in serving in the dining room when company was coming. Once, one of the little girls got some flypaper
stuck in their hair! NOTHING would loosen the fly paper from her hair. Mom had to take the scissors and cut her hair to get rid of the flypaper. After that, Zaybird would tease, and call out to the children “Flypaper!! Nothing! No time! Nuthin’” And the little girls would go running to Mom's skirts! But he was a wonderful worker to pot mother's flowers each spring and put them on the front porch to bloom all summer long. He mowed the lawn, fed the chickens, milked the cows, cooked, groomed the horses. He was truly an all round hired man. Zaybird, late in life, decided to move to Houston . . . and eventually, we heard that he had landed a job as gardener for Miss Ima Hogg, prominent in the religious, social and cultural life of Houston.

Annie Washington was the cook for many years. She lived out in the country, and to arrive in Crockett in time to cook breakfast for “Miss Jennie” and her family, she must have had to get up by five o'clock and ‘catch-a-ride’ to town to be able to have breakfast ready by seven! Annie was a wonderful cook, and she knew the art of seasoning things in a perfect manner. He fluffy buttermilk biscuits were something out of this world. They took lots of home-made butter and thick syrup or honey or home-made preserves just to make the eating better! A funny thing--nobody worried about getting fat--and actually, nobody in the family really ever did back in those days! There many chores to be done around the kitchen. Bread had to be made and set behind the big black iron kitchen stove to rise gradually and uniformly, pies and cakes had to be made, the turnip greens from the garden had to be washed and re-washed through several waters before they were felt clean enough to put into a large black iron kettle to boil and boil with a ham hock, and the cornbread had to be made and a roast had to be baked, and the breakfast dishes had to be hand-washed (no dishwashers, back then!). And, pretty soon it was dinner time, and the table had to be laid, with immaculate white linen cloth and linen napkins, and the family silver, just so, and set (for twelve, usually) each meal. Mother sat at her usual place, presiding in gracious manner at the foot of the table, and Dad sat at the head of the table where, if there was some kind of meat, he would carve it. Once, when my older sister had company, and in little girl fashion, they (3 little girls) began to giggle at the table, when Dad was in the process of saying the blessing. Dad felt with his heart and soul . . . that this moment was reverent, and simply NO TIME for giggling! I caught the reprimand! Quietly, but firmly, I was excused from the table. It was a lesson that I never, ever forgot. Dad could be quite stern and to the point in his discipline! Annie Washington I'll never forget. She stayed with us for many years, and later went to Tyler, Texas to live and go to college for an education.

If you enjoyed this, visit:

CENTER FOR LIFE STORIES PRESERVATION http://www.storypreservation.com/

Texas GenWeb Project http://www.rootsweb.com/~txgenweb/

Houston County, TX GenWeb page http://www.io.com/~dwhite/more.html

Arledge House Bed and Breakfast, Crockett, TX, 718 E Houston Avenue, Crockett, TX 75835 Phone: (409) 544-3955

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