I don’t remember a lot about our move from Cisco to Gainesville. I just know that we had Smokey living on a vacant Lot back of the parsonage and I had to take care of him even when he had big ol’ ticks on his body. Those ticks sucked blood and swelled up turning purple. Smokey’s undercarriage thingy swelled up so big that we had to get stuff that Grandpa had, so everything turned out OK.
Wednesday nights were always so horrible. We had to go to prayer meeting at the church. I think I loved Jesus, but I sure didn’t like prayer meeting. Most of the reason was because people stood up and testified. It was just awful. Brother Chillywaters – no, that wasn’t his real name, it’s just a name we gave him – he always stood up at testimony time and started off by saying with shaky voice, “When I cross those chilly waters of Jordon … blah, blah, blah (only he didn’t say blahblahblah). Then everybody would get down on their knees to pray and it hurt so much on my knees I thought I would die. We had to stay there sometimes for a hunnerd hours. There was an outhouse behind the church – it was a one holer for all the church to use – so sometimes I thought I had to go peepee. It got me out of stayin’ on my knees for so long.
Daddy traded in the ’40 model Dodge and bought a Kaiser since this was after the war and they began to build cars again. Everyone was wide-eyed looking at those new cars. The cars of 1946 through 1950 were absolutely amazing; DeSotos, Lincolns, Packards, Fords, Chevys, Hudsons, Nashs, Plymouths, Chryslers, Oldsomobiles, Cadillacs, Studebakers, Mercurys, Fraziers and Kaisers. The cars began to look like airplanes. If you get pictures of them, you’ll jump for joy even today as everyone did back in those days.
Well, Daddy bought a Kaiser. It was the cheaper of the twins, Kaiser and Frazier. Mr. Kaiser built ships for the war and started a hospital company to take care of his workers. I think he was rich. The good part about those cars, most of the parts were interchangeable (I didn’t know that word back then). The Fraziers were more expensive than the Kaisers.
Lloyd Davis was NanthaLee’s boyfriend. He had come home from the war in his white Navy suit and won NanthaLee’s heart, but she was only 16 years old by that time. In order to keep me from seeing them, Lloyd always – always – gave me at least a quarter, and sometimes a whole dollar, so I could run down to the new Dairy Queen and buy an ice cream cone. Do you know how much a dollar would be today? About $10.00! WOW! This gave them time to kiss and stuff like that.
You know what? The drug store was on the corner of the court house square and they sold Coca Colas and ice cream and lots of other stuff, but it was just too far for me to go all the way to downtown on the square from Richey Street. Musta been at least 10 blocks. It wasn’t dangerous to go there because people real drove slow, maybe 25 miles an hour. Gainesville had a lot of old people. I could buy more ice cream at Dairy Queen than at the drug store plus it was only about 3 or 4 blocks.
MartinLuther met Joy Whisenant when he came home from the war. He came home before we left Cisco and was attending embalming college in Dallas. They got married and I think MartinLuther took her back to embalming school for a short while. Maybe it scared her so much she decided to have a baby.
Late one night while Joy was having their first child – his name was gonna be EdwardLuther – Lloyd was taking coffee to the hospital on Richey Street in the Kaiser. The coffee pot was sitting on the seat next to him and the front seat was like a sofa. Hospitals didn’t have cafeterias in those days. The pot started to turn over in the seat and he grabbed for it slightly turning to the right and slammed into the back of another car or a tree or something. It tore the whole front-end of the Kaiser away. No problem except Lloyd got all cut up. Daddy went to a junk yard and bought a wrecked Frazier for parts. Night after night Daddy put it all together – and suddenly we had a Kaiser that looked like a Frazier.
Next door to the parsonage was a little house where Mary lived with her real old mother. Mary was disabled. She had no legs and her arms were twisted. She opened a little store in her house – it looked just like a 7-11 Store – only thing was, it was in her house and Gainesville didn’t have 7-11’s in 1948. Things were different back then. I don’t think they had welfare so she started her own little business. All us kids went in there and bought ice cream and candy and lots of other stuff. The grownups also bought things from her.
Sometimes she got grouchy cuz some of the kids would steal candy from her and since she didn’t have any legs she couldn’t chase ‘em. I didn’t blame her and I didn’t steal anything. Jesus would get me and my daddy would whupp the life outta me with his razor strop. Daddy and Mama were nice to her and her mama, too, even though her mama was really, really grouchy. In fact, Mary didn’t really like the Nazarenes. Daddy was a happy guy and Mama was sweet and even though the bread and stuff was more expensive at Mary’s they bought stuff cuz they felt sorry for her. Before long, Mary changed her attitude toward Jesus and the Nazarenes. I think she started loving Jesus – anyway, she changed things and even came to church once in a while ‘cause I pushed her in her wheel chair because she didn’t have legs and her arms couldn’t do much of anything either. This was in about 1948 or ’49. It was fun doing that.
My friend and pretty close relative, LulaBelle, tells me a story about Mary. The story goes that Mary and her mother had some property out west of town and when Mary died, she willed the mineral rights to that property to the Nazarene Church. After all those years, almost 70 years, they struck oil there – millions of dollars – and the Nazarenes will be getting a check every month for as long as there is oil in the ground. What comes to my mind about this is, it’s always better to be nice to people and love them through Jesus, whether you get anything for it or not, ‘cause you never know how the Lord will use it.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
For thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)
You know what hurts? That church only has about 10 people who attend!
It was in Gainesville that I talked that guy who had a hay farm into letting me drive his Allis-Chalmers tractor and pull his hay bailer. His name was “Skinny” Roach. I guess he was skinny. I don’t know why or where he got Roach from. The Sisson’s were there too, and they had a boy who was crippled, but he could drive their Pontiac. The Adair’s had a son who was into things – a little guy. He went with his daddy to work at the flour mill and he was looking over the side of the elevator when they were going up to the next floor. It crushed his head. It was awful – just awful!
Daddy made the national news all over the United States. The night when NanthaLee and Lloyd were getting married, Daddy was on the back porch cleaning his pants with something called naphta. There weren’t cleaning stores in Gainesville owned by Koreans or anybody else so Daddy cleaned his Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes with naphta. It was kinda like gasoline; at least it smelled like it. Maybe that’s why he smelled like gasoline when he preached. Well, anyway, Daddy had a pan full of naphta and he put his pants in there and shwooooosh – the fumes caught fire from the gas water heater on the back porch and started the house on fire. The headlines all over the world read: “Preacher burns pants at wedding.”
By that time, I was about 11 years old and I guess I was a talker back then. People used to say I would argy (argue) with a sign post. The Shasteen boys lived out on a cotton farm and I helped them pick cotton. You talk about work …; whooee! Those Shasteen boys grew up and made something of themselves. In fact, one of them married a Whisenant girl – Freddie, I think. Marrying a Whisenant girl meant you were top of the line!
LulaBelle didn’t marry a Shasteen. Her sister, Joy, married MartinLuther and her other sister married that Shasteen boy who got a doctor’s degree. LulaBelle was my girlfriend sometimes – on again, off again. I really didn’t know what it was all about, but we had fun. It was good smelling her mother’s food though. It’s hard to say what happiness really is, but I was so happy. LulaBelle stayed in Gainesville, lived a happy life, married a good man, had a wonderful family, and became a school teacher. She sits on her front porch in the swing and is happy as a lark. Sometimes I long for those days.
The rug was pulled out from underneath me when we had to move to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We couldn’t take Smokey so Daddy sold him. All in all, Gainesville made an indelible impression on our whole family because both MartinLuther and NanthaLee married kids from there. Would you believe I don’t have one memory of our move to Carlsbad! I think maybe the sand was sinking a little, maybe a lot!