Growing Up in Turkey Creek, Henderson Co., TX

Here are some of the stories in the little book my mother wrote for my kids.  They were 6 and 10 at the time.  Because we lived on opposite coastlines they didn't get to see their grandparents that often.  Mom wanted them to know something about her and wrote down all these little tales about her childhood between 1990 and 1991.  They cover the period between 1930 to 1937 roughly. - Vicki Bullard

Growing Up in Turkey Creek

(For my Grandchildren)

By Alma Lee Whitlock

Transcribed by Vicki Bullard

We were ten in all.  Sadie was the oldest.  Etheridge was the brother after Sadie, then Drucilla and Lorene; then Edith, Alta Irvin, my youngest brother, Ruth and Dorothy.  Then I was born and 3years later was Amy.

My Dad lost everything when the stock market crashed.  We moved from our ranch to a place called Turkey Creek.  This is where we were to live until I was about 12 years old.

When we first moved to Turkey Creek, my dad and some others in the country built a log cabin.  We had one big room and a kitchen with a long table in it and a cook stove.  We had a big tree in the front yard and Papa made us a swing with an old casing from a tire for a car.  I use to spend lots of hours daydreaming in that swing.

In the evening after supper, Mama and Papa use to tell us stories.  I liked Papa’s stories because his always made us laugh.  Then we would go running around catching lightening bugs.  We would put them in a jar and watch them light for a while; then we would open the jar and let them fly away.

Mama use to sing songs to us.  She sang ballads.  Some of them were very sad

There were seven of us living in that two room cabin so needless to say we were crowded.  I never knew what it was to have a bed to myself.  It was always three to a bed.  Sometimes in the summer, when it got very hot, we would pull our bed outside and sleep under the stars.  Boy I loved that.  Then it wasn’t crowded or hot.

Sometimes at night when we were suppose to be sleeping, my sister Dorothy would hiss at me and say, “Tell me what you’re doing.”, and I would make up this long, drawn-out story for her about what I was doing.  It was all imaginary.  I would make it up as I would go-all about the beautiful house I lived in and the kids I had.  I named my imaginary friend Imogene and I would tell her all about what Imogene had been doing.  Then Dorothy would tell me her story about her family and we would laugh and giggle till Ruth or Amy got mad at us.

There were lots of nights I would go to sleep listening to the baying of someone’s old coon dog that would have a coon or opossum treed.

Blackberry Cobbler & Ice Cream

We had a thick forest behind the log cabin.  Some days we would go looking for wild blackberries.  We would come home sometimes with our pails filled to the brim and Mama would make a blackberry cobbler.

I remember a few times that my oldest sister Sadie and her husband Perry and their kids, P.L. and Doug would come down.  We would be so excited because that meant we were going to make home made ice cream!  I would stand and watch while they poured the milk sugar and vanilla flavoring and eggs together, heat it on the stove, then put it in the middle part of the freezer, and pack ice and salt around it.  Then we would all get a turn cranking the freezer until it got so hard to turn we would have to turn it over to Papa.  When it was finally ready to eat, we would fight over who got to lick the clasher.  That was the best tasting ice cream in the world and we would eat until our tummies hurt!

School Days

I started school in Turkey Creek.  I was suppose to have been in the first grade.  My teacher Miss Goldie told me to read and I read for her and she said, “You should be in 2nd grade”.  So I was put up a grade.

We had a two room school house with first grade to fourth in one room and fifth & Sixth in the other.  Some of the other kids names I can recall were Joyce Allen, Willie Tom Wallace, Nola Mae Leopard, Francis Carter, Laura Mae McGee, Margaret McGee, the Ballard kids, and others I can’t remember.

We were very poor so I didn’t always have food to take to school for lunch.  Willie Tom always had a good lunch.  So I would trade her my biscuit and mustard sandwich for her peanut butter.  I would convince her how good my biscuit was.  I was a real con-artist.

We would make a whole village in the dirt under the old school house.  We would use bottles for our cars.  We had paper dolls that we would cut out of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue for our people.  We spent hours playing at this.

After Mama and Papa died, we kids actually were allowed to move into one room of the school house for a while.  They no longer had school there.  We had to catch a bus and go to a school called Cross Roads.


Joyce Allen and I became real friends.  We use to hide up in her mother’s peanut barn and read magazines—real racy ones called “True Story”.

We had a playhouse in the woods all fixed up with separate rooms all marked off.  We would make dolls out of sticks and pretend they were our kids.

Joyce had two brothers named Newall and Adolph.  They liked to chase us with dead snakes.  We would find huge great big ones in the woods behind our house.  Some were dangerous like Copperheads and Rattlers.  But the little ones we would kill with a stick

One day we went Crawdad fishing in Grandma Leopards old watering hole.  We caught some big Crawdads, cut their heads off and Adolph cooked them in an old tin can.  We all tried to eat some but they were real salty.  Bye the way that old tank had copperhead snakes in it.  Joyce was bitten by a copperhead and she had a big rotting place on one foot.

The Leopard family had lots of kids and lived about 2 miles through the woods from us.  We would meet half way to see each other.  So we would start blowing a sound through our fists to let each other know we were coming.

We had an old swimming hole we all would go to.  We would climb up a small sapling tree and ride it down over the water and drop in.  I didn’t even know how to swim.

We had an Indian mound that we knew about so we would go there to find arrowheads.

We use to put a big long board across a log and one of us would get on one end and whoever was close to the same weight would get on the other.  We would jump on the board sending each other way high in the air.

I remember playing outside when the sun went down.  We would play Mother May I and Kick the Can, Hide and Go Seek and Annie Over.

I remember Laura Mae McGee and I tried to sneak away to go to a house party.  After we were about a mile down the road we looked behind us and there were her sister Margaret and my sister Amy following behind us.  We were so angry because now we had to take them with us.

 Pink Eye

Our house was next to a family named McGee.  The kid’s names were Margaret, who was called Tince, Laura Mae and Junior.  One day Junior had the pink eye and I told him if he peed in a walnut shell and put it in his eye it would cure it.  So he went behind the house and did it.  Oh boy, did we laugh.

I got the pink eye and my sister Drucilla would have to get up with me at night to take me to the outhouse because my eyes would get glued together and I couldn’t see. 

When my eyes got better, I would still wake up at night and keep my eyes closed real tight and pretend they were stuck together so my sister would go with me.  I was afraid of the dark and I knew if she thought I could see she would make me go alone.  I didn’t fool her for too long.  She caught on one night when I said, “Oh, look at the falling star.  Make a wish!”  Oops!

Old Letters Henderson Co. TX

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