Billie Winberg
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Memoirs of Billie Winberg

By Billie Winberg

These are Billie Winberg’s recollections of life on the Will Block farm or a Sunday afternoon at the Koelemay grandparents’ home on Koelemay Road in Nederland (now the 2200 Block of Helena St.).

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"Dad sitting in the swing by the kitchen window, putting a little one to sleep. He kept an eye on youngsters, washing and drying dishes. (Sisters) squabbling because one didn’t wash clean or one dipped in rinse water again after the dish had been dried. ‘That’ll do!’ Dad quieted them, but never raised his voice."

Dad getting out of bed and putting on his trousers as he walked. He picked up his shotgun. ‘Dad, is there a burglar?’ ‘No, there is a ‘possum in the chicken house.’"

"The sheriff is coming this morning. Had to make coffee and straighten up the house. Sam (presumably Sam Esclavon) is coming to take us down the river. ‘Oh, Dad, is there a criminal hiding in the marsh?’ ‘No, I spotted smoke in the sea cane, which means a whiskey still is in business there. I called the sheriff.’"

"When Dad told you about something to do, and he said, ‘See to it!’ You never doubted that he meant it, but his voice was never raised."

"We were old enough that we wanted to wear shoes to school. The road had been worked on - and it had rained and was very muddy. Dad was then on the grand jury. So we carried our shoes and stockings to Uncle Abbie’s house on Port Neches Avenue. We then wiped our feet with paper, put on our shoes and stockings, and went on to school."

"In those days, farmers were never called to serve on the grand jury until the crops were harvested, and (in our case) syrup was made."

"Katie was smarter than I and could get studies done earlier than I. I complained, but Dad explained very carefully that he did not compare his children. He wanted each to do the best that he (or she) could do. There were some things that each of us could do better than some other child."

"I complained less about field work - mostly because I loved him so much and missed my mother so much. I was eight years old when she died. Also milking the cows was no big deal. I just preferred outside work to be near my Dad."

"With Dad, it was either right or wrong - there was no in between. Dad was very active in church functions and bank promotion. I remember decorating a big pine tree for our Christmas celebration. People often came to Dad for food. He gave them food for one day, and paid so much per day for field workers. If they needed more, they could work for it."

"Mother was an excellent housekeeper and cook. She made all our clothes as well as hers. She always cooked dinner for the harvest hands working in the field. Sometimes she hitched up a horse and buggy to carry the noon meal to the field workers. I do not remember where all those fields were."

"During the summer months, she often filled a tub of water on the back porch to bathe us in. Once after staying in the tub, we went out to a pond in back and played some more. Can’t you imagine finding us in the pond after having gotten us nice and clean in the tub?"

"Regarding the zither (of Dora Block, which remained idle above a closet in a bedroom for years after her death). Yes, she played it. Also the ladies sang a lot. Tanta Anna (Koelemay) and her sisters (maiden name Westerterp) were sitting and singing under the crepe myrtle’s on a pretty Sunday afternoon. At ‘Omu’s (Grandmother Koelemay’s) house on a Sunday afternoon (before the house burned down), the men in the living area, where they visited and played pool on a pool table. The ladies sat around a table, with their needles ‘flying,’ to make squares for a bedspread or tablecloth, or a sweater for a tiny tot, or baby clothes. The kids would be playing ‘hide and seek’ or ‘Annie over,’ over the big warehouse or barn." (A history of the Koelemay families of Nederland is deposited in the Nederland Public Library)."

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