Mary Lou
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Some Memories of Papa I Can Share

By Mary Lou Tullos

The following are memoirs of Mary Lou Tullos of Houston, entitled "Some Memories of Papa I Can Share," as follows:

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"I like to remember times when papa seemed relaxed, or happy, or times of special caring for us."

"Papa sitting in the swing on the screened porch, just outside the window of the kitchen. It was his favorite place to sit and relax in the ‘cool of the evening.’ Usually the current ‘two-year-old’ was beside him and being put to sleep with Papa whistling. The song I remember most often was No. 35 in the Cokesbury Hymnal, ‘He Leadeth Me.’ I always hear his whistle when that tune is played."

"While sitting in that same swing on other occasions, when the light was good for reading, Papa read from his favorite magazine of the time, The Literary Digest. When he saw items of particular interest to him, or things happening in the ‘outside world,’ he read them aloud to any of us who happened to be in the kitchen. (With wonder in his voice about things that were happening outside of his world!) I was often in that kitchen, preparing food or cleaning up after a meal since I was the ‘oldest girl at home’ during all my High School years."

"Each autumn Papa took us to the ‘County Fair’ in Beaumont. He really enjoyed the exhibits of farm produce and animals shown there. (He did not participate in any ‘games of chance.’) As Papa got older, I remember him walking at the Fair, walking with a hand on his right hip, as if it hurt him to walk. But he still let us stay and walk long enough to see everything."

"I also remember and think about the special attention and care he gave when we were sick, although I did detest the taste of liquor over ‘rock candy,’ given as a remedy for croup. (The rock candy formed in the bottom of the buckets of sugar cane molasses when they sat for a long time.) Papa also felt such caring for his sisters and other members of his extended family. He made frequent trips to check on their well being. I remember that he took Aunt Ivy Dearing on a train to the Scott-White Clinic in Temple to try to get medical help for her kidney disease."

"I remember Papa in church, always there with us, and always expected to make sufficient monetary donations to keep the preacher paid and the church running. (I was responsible to iron that white shirt for church...with the iron heated over the stove. Papa and his sisters helped start the church.) And I remember Papa’s way of saying ‘Good-bye’ to us was ‘Behave yourself!’"

"I remember Papa taking us for a Sunday afternoon visit at Omu Koelemay’s house, where several members of the family gathered to exchange news and relax from work. Men gathered in the living room, where there was one of those earliest phonographs, and I think there was a pool table for billiards. The women sat around the dining room, drinking their tea or cocoa and working on needlework. These visits kept us in touch with our Koelemay family. I remember the laughter among the Koelemay brothers and brothers-in-law. These same Koelemay families visited us at the homestead on the river, and the many pictures we have are due to efforts of Uncle Klaas Koelemay, who studied photography in Holland."

"Before the days of pollution from oil tank farms, etc., we were allowed to take a swim in Block’s Bayou, on our property near the ‘shell-bank.’ When the water in the bayou was low, Papa sometimes took us in a rowboat across the Neches River to a sandbank he thought was safe for us. (This was before the oil tanker traffic on the river made it unsafe.)"

"During earlier days, Papa and his brothers, Albert and Martin, owned land across the river from the home place. They ran a herd of beef cattle on that land. The milk cows that were kept on home pastures for our family milk supply were alternately moved to that pasture too. Before the days when dams were built in various spots along the Neches, some parts of our land would flood in the spring. The land across the river had some fairly high "hummucks" (small hills, the result of mud pumped from dredge boats), but some years the floods were so bad that the cattle had to be moved across to the pastures on the home place. A cattle barge was kept in the ‘boat landing slip’ down in front of the house, along with a motor boat and skiff. The cattle barge would not hold all the cattle, and some cattle were roped and tied to the back of the barge and made to swim their way across the flooded river. Sometimes I still hear the mournful lowing of the cattle as the men herded them across the river!"

"That land across the river was later sold to the Brown family of Orange, who were enriched by the discovery of oil on that land."

"When ‘butchering day’ came, the three brothers shared the meat among the families, since we had no freezer for the meat. (We had a smokehouse for the pork from our hogs.) We did have refrigerators that held 100# blocks of ice delivered to us on an ‘as needed’ basis, and our milk, butter, and meat was kept cold."

"Our food storage cabinets were kept filled with home-cooked jams, jellies, preserves, grape juice, figs, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, pickles, relish, peaches, pears, plums, etc. Wild berries, mayhaws, and grapes grew among the trees in our pasture, and the pear orchard had a profusion of hard pears."

"I remember Papa the day we drove to Denton for Katie’s graduation from C. I. A. (College of Industrial Arts, now Texas Women’s University at Denton). We had a new model Ford. Brother Albert was the driver, and I was a back seat observer, wearing one of those dresses I made for myself in Home Economics class in High School! Papa’s wonder and enjoyment at seeing all the lush farm lands and different crops growing along the highways to Dallas and Denton stayed with me, and I think of it when I ride the highway to Dallas. He was so proud to have Katie graduating from college!"

"I remember Papa the day he took me to buy a real ‘store-boughten’ dress! (I could describe it for you.) Made of silk, I think. My older sisters made our clothes at home until I learned to do it for myself. I remember making my first dress at eleven years of age."

"I remember Papa taking me to stay at Anna’s house when Earl was a baby, and Jarvis was a two-year-old. I was supposed to stay with her and help with the babies until she was stronger. I went to school from her house. (The walk was not as long as it was from our home place.)"

"One day as I was walking from school to Anna’s house, I saw Papa’s car driving along the street, where I walked from school. He had come to pick me up and check on how I was getting along at Anna’s. And that made me feel good to know that he was checking on me, and I also enjoyed the ride with him! He was not in the habit of picking any of us up from school! ‘Some of the foods that Papa liked (and he grew most of it).’"

"1. "Pecan cake - a rich butter cake with toasted pecans in it. (We had plenty of pecans and butter.) 2. Sweet potatoes - baked and any way you cook them in a pie. 3. Corn-on-the-cob (with lots of butter). 4. Chili - hot (especially when he had a sore throat). 5. Cornstarch pudding, served with a sauce made from homemade grape juice. 6. Cornbread - made with meal from corn he grew. 7. Watermelon preserves - made from melons he grew. 8. Pear preserves - from our homegrown pears. 9. Cucumber pickles - from his homegrown cucumbers. 10. Strawberries arid cream - from berries grown in our garden. 11. Mayhaw jelly on cornbread. 12. Teacakes - a cookie made with butter and sugar (baked by Mary Lou, whose regular Saturday duty was to bake some things - by order of Papa. 13. Fried chicken - from our homegrown chickens. 14. Bacon and sausage from our smokehouse. 15. Beef from his cattle. 16. Sugar cane syrup - made from cane he grew and cooked in the mill at his house or at Uncle Martin’s mill. 17. Peaches canned or preserved or in a cobbler - made from peaches he bought by the bushel wherever he could find him. 18. Watermelons - he grew, but especially those special Bolivar melons. He would drive to Bolivar to buy some of those. 19. Lima beans - from his own patch. 20. Irish potatoes - from his harvest. 21. Mustard greens, collards, or homegrown cabbage. 22. Cream peas, black-eyed peas, crowder peas (We ate them fresh, canned, or dried them for winter eating.) 23. Tomatoes - stewed with okra, peppers, etc."

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