HAMILTON COUNTY IN THE 1950S AS SEEN BY A FIRST GRADER

                    
Search Engine for the Gazetteer

   Search this site      powered by FreeFind
 
 

                     

HAMILTON COUNTY IN THE 1950'S AS SEEN BY A FIRST GRADER

 

Dawn Moorehead Street

We moved to Hamilton County when I was a 6-year old. Our farm was 2 miles outside of Aleman between Aleman and Ireland. I went to school at Aleman School, we went to church in Ireland and we shopped in Hamilton.

I walked about a half mile to the bus stop on the FM road that ran past our place. It was a long dusty walk for a little girl and my mother watched me until I reached the end of the lane.

The school was housed in a large 2-story building. There were 4 large rooms on the first floor, 2 on either side of a hallway that cut the building in half. On the second floor, there was a large auditorium complete with a stage and curtain and I think I remember a dressing room on either side. I was impressed with the size.

There were 6 girls in my first grade class - Frances Busch, Wanda Snyder, Lou Ann Collier, Rita Klatt, Priscilla Schrank ( I think that was the spelling), and me. I was the odd man out, a little Irish lass in a class of Germans, but they accepted me. The kids called me Blackie because my hair was black, my eyes were brown and my skin was darker - no freckles on this kid. Classes were held in the first classroom on the right as we entered the building. The room housed several grades (1-5, I think). Older students were taught in the other 2 classrooms and the 4th one was our lunchroom. It was a large kitchen type room with a couple of long tables and chairs.

There was no running water in the building. We had a 3-hole outhouse for the girls way back behind the school on the left and another outhouse on the right for the boys. There was a long concrete and stone water fountain with 4 spigots out front of the building. When the weather was cold and the outside pipes were frozen, water was hauled in. We used a common dipper. Strep throat ran rampant in the school. I had it 3 times one year. The treatment was penicillin injected in the gluteus maximus. Ouch!!! The cook was a carrier of strep.

A lot of the kids at the school came to school without shoes when the weather was warm. The boys wore jeans or overalls and a lot of the girls wore dresses made from feed or flour sacks - me included. Mom would go to the feed store with Dad when he went to buy feed. She picked out the material for our clothes. Most of our mothers sewed and made our clothes. The exception was Rita, an only child, who had storebought stuff. I thought her family must be rich.

We listened to the older classes recitations. We learned from eavesdropping on their classes. Once our own lessons were finished, we could read. The library was a large closet in our classroom. We were free to read any books in the closet and I think I read them all, perhaps more than once.

Playground equipment consisted of swings and a merry-go-round. Before we started the school year, the schoolyard had to be cleaned off. Tall dry weeds and the rocks had to go. One year during the cleanup, I picked up a rock that was a hiding place for a scorpion that quickly attached himself to my dress and began laboriously climbing up. I stood still and stared in horror, screaming. Lou Ann was as frightened at I and began dropping rocks down the front of my dress to knock it off. One of the older boys saw my plight, ran up, brushed the scorpion off and stepped on it.

Names that I recall from my short 3 years there are Linda and Junior Bottlinger. I called her Linda Bottlinda at first. Marvin Kunkle, Wanda and Delton Erie, Mr. Massengill (principal), Miss Limmer and Mrs. Williams (teachers) and Joy Blanchard are others. There was a boy named Charles but I forget his last name.

Stanley parties were popular and I remember Mom having one. A lot of my classmates' moms came and brought the kids. Who had ever heard of childcare back then. The boys started for the barn and I started to tag along until one of the girls stopped me. The boys were going out the cow lot to use the bathroom. I was appalled, "but we have a bathroom inside." They weren't used to farmhouses with indoor plumbing.

Our farmhouse was built on stilts (rock pillars) we called them. The house did not sit flat on the ground. I could walk under the house standing upright until I was almost under the front porch. The yard was fenced with the usual range fencing, not barbed wire, and cedar posts with sagging gates on three sides. I remember old flat irons used as as weights on the gates. There were cedar trees in the front yard and they were infested with bumblebees. The adults kept fly swatters on the front porch to swat the bees away. My brothers used to hold tow sacks over the bee holes and then would hit the tree to make the bees fly into the sacks.

There was a long front porch across the front of the house and a set of wide wooden steps leading up to the front door. The dirt "walk" leading from the front gate to the steps was lined with white rocks. The front door was flanked by 2 tall skinny windows. Before we bought it, the house was a modified "dog run" design. A hallway ran between the front door and the screened back porch. The "dog run" was enclosed to become our bathroom and an entry hall. To the right was a large bedroom that my younger brothers and I shared. There was a smaller room attached to the bedroom and it opened up onto the back porch. I was told it may have been a wardrobe room in previous years. To the left of the hallway and bathroom was the living room. Behind this room was the dining room, my parents' bedroom. In the back of the house was the kitchen. Three of the five rooms opened up on to the "L" shaped backporch. The house was not insulated at all. The wallpaper covering the walls was backed with cheesecloth and that and the wood in the walls was all that was between us and the North Pole in winter and the Equator in the summer. We had a wall heater in the bathroom, a space heater in the living room and the kitchen stove. We heated with butane.

We had electricity but no phone because we could not afford to pay for the lines to be

strung from town to the farm. Mom or Dad had to go to town, Ireland or Aleman, or to the only neighbor with a phone in emergencies. Newspapers were not daily and were a luxury. Television? Who had that on a farm in the early 1950s?!! Radio was the thing. We listened to The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and Amos 'n Andy.

We sold milk, butter, eggs and crops to purchase the things we needed that farm did not produce. There was a root cellar under the kitchen and it was filled with jars of canned vegetables. My younger brother and I washed and dried the eggs in the cool of the cellar in the summer and in the warmth of it in the winter.

Moving from the farm to San Angelo, Texas was a shock to my system. I moved from a class of 6 little girls to a class of over 60 and half of those were boys. I was behind in math and science, but not in reading!! I was lost. My teacher was not as patient or as kind as Ms. Limmer and Mrs. Williams had been.

My best memories of childhood are set in Hamilton County, at Aleman School, and on a dryland farm where the wildflowers grew in great abundance. My memories include the buzz of the honey bees as they worked the flowers, the sight of a field of golden oats with red poppies waving defiantly here and there, the large mulberry trees in the back yard with berries of different hues and the green grass over the sewer line to the septic tank. I see barefoot kids with stained feet and mouths (mulberries) and clothes hanging on the line. I can still hear the creaking strain of the windmill as it pumped the water up and into the tanks. I hear the low of cows callling to their calves. I can still see the turkeys ganging up on my younger brother and chasing him across the yard. Kittens were born in the outhouse and under the barn. The dogs chased, caught and killed interlopers to the hen house and the odor of a polecat always brings those two dogs to my mind. We took them to town with us. I had to leave Olie, the lamb, behind, as well as my little red hen.

I drove back about 10 years ago. The farmhouse is gone. It burned down. I couldn't see any cedar trees or the mulberry trees. The barn and the out buildings are also gone. In fact, I had to drive to Aleman School, a residence now, and clock myself back down the road 2 miles. The Krueger's old house and buildings are gone. Nothing is the same, but the memory lives on. I'll never forget. The stories of my childhood days have been favorites of my children and grandchildren. Thanks for the memories.

 

ALEMAN

 

 


People and Places: Gazetteer of Hamilton County, TX
Search this site powered by FreeFind

Copyright March, 1998
by Elreeta Crain Weathers, B.A., M.Ed.,  
(also Mrs.,  Mom, and Ph. T.)

A Work In Progress