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Reminiscing: Aunt Clare’s memories of childhood
Clare Goode and Lois Zook (circa 1941)
Clare Goode Fussell is my aunt. She has shared her memories with me many times. Clare is my only living aunt, both on my mother’s and daddy’s side. She lives in Georgia. She was born in April 1931, the year after the Goodes moved from Coleman to a farm in the Camp Ranch community. The house is still there today. She was only 4 years old in 1935 when she remembers a trip to Floresville in a wagon.
Clare said, “I remember going into Floresville in a wagon with your daddy, mama, you, Margaret, and Junior. Your daddy tied up the mules to a post under this big shade tree and there were these big barrels of water for the horses to drink.”
If she was about 4 years old, I was about 3, Margaret 2, and Lawrence Jr, 1 year old! We lived down the road from them in the Camp Ranch community. Going to town in a wagon and mules with four little kids (under 4 years old), I hope my grandma came with them! But Clare doesn’t remember her mother being there -- it was just my mother and daddy and the little kids. Maybe Mother took Clare (age 4) to help her with the baby and toddlers! I guess Mother carried the baby, Lawrence and Clare held my hand, and I held Margaret’s hand. I am sure Clare was the boss!! But I was the boss of Margaret!
My grandparents moved from the Camp Ranch community to the Fairview community shortly after that. They lived there a couple of years before they moved to San Antonio in 1937. Clare has one more memory of living at the farm in Fairview, one where her mama and daddy made homemade ice cream and the Connally brothers, who were teens, came down the road that night to eat ice cream with the family. I shared that story in another column.
Clare, the baby of the family, started school there in San Antonio. Her mother, my grandma, got a job at a sewing factory. My grandpa didn’t work because of ill health. Her older sisters had to quit school and go to work. Her brothers got summer jobs pushing ice cream carts. They were 14 and 15 years old then. It was in the early 1940s.
Clare went to grade school at Robert E. Lee Elementary and then Emerson Junior High. She worked for a lady down the street after school and on weekends. She cleaned the fish pond out back, and did little chores around the house, and answered the phone if the lady was gone. She gave the money she earned to her daddy to save for her school clothes.
My grandmother died unexpectedly in 1943. She fell stepping down from a transit bus on the ice, breaking her hip. She got pneumonia and passed away in Robert B. Green Hospital. Clare was only 12 years old. She was the baby, and had been her mother’s pride and joy. After that time, Clare’s life spiraled into grief, sorrow, and loneliness as the family split apart trying to survive. When Clare was about 14 or 15, she went to Kingsville to live with her married sister and her husband.
I went to spend a few weeks with her after Grandma died, when they lived at the house on Mesquite Street in San Antonio. That was a special summer for me. What I remember was walking downtown to Sommers Drug Store and going to the Aztec or Majestic theaters to matinees, and just hanging out in her neighborhood, going for walks around the block at night, and sitting on the front porch steps with her friends. It was heaven to me because if I had been at home on the farm, I would have been working in the hot fields all day.
I remember that summer as the one that changed my life. Determining to leave the farm after finishing school and moving to a city where there was a different world and life, I did just that, because graduating from Poth High, leaving the farm, I returned 60 years later to Wilson County. I have lived in big cities, and I have seen things and experienced things, just like I would daydream when I lived on the farm. My Aunt Clare always was an adventurer. She had a very hard, difficult life, but despite that, she is the most optimistic person I know, and she has a sense of humor that keeps me laughing every time I talk to her. I will always be grateful for her, for showing me the other side of life that summer when we were just kids, just on the verge of growing up! I am so glad she has a good memory and has shared many of them with me.
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. After many years living in other parts of Texas, she now lives and writes in Floresville. Her two books are available from the Wilson County News office. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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