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South Texas Living

Old house full of memories

Old house full of memories
Mack and Leona Harrell and Bertie Lee Goode and Lawrence Zook in their dating days, 1931.

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Rainy Days and Starry Nights
November 7, 2012
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Last week, we took our friend Eleanora Talley out to lunch and then went driving in the country, back to the old home place in the Camp Ranch community. Eleanora grew up in the area too, so she knew more about it than I did -- about how it used to be. We drove by the old Zook farm, where I was born and where my grandparents, the Rev. Samuel Zook and Lizzie Zook, and Daddy and all his brothers and sisters used to live on F.M. 144. I think they finally tore the house down, because we couldn’t see it anymore. It was still standing around 2005. It made me sad.

But the old Goode house up the road is still there. Winston and Joanne Southern bought it many years ago, and fixed it up for a retirement place. He plants hay and raises cattle on it now. He is always out there, and Joanne wants to take a vacation and stay there soon. It is right down the road from the old Zook place. We saw the house glistening in the sunlight, all painted white, with a red tin roof. It made me feel so good, when I thought about how my grandparents moved there in 1930, with all those kids (my mother Bertie Lee, who was 18, then it was William, Ellen, Ada Mae, Sallie, Fay, H. E., and Johnny). The house still looks so small and I wonder where they all slept in the house back then.

Then Eleanora informed me that her grandparents, Roman and Mary Jasek, lived in the house too. She remembers when she visited them when she was 4 years old in 1922. They moved out in 1926.

She said, “I remember my grandpa and grandma’s bedroom was on the south side of the house, right there and where that window is, there was a chimney there,” as she pointed to the house.

Eleanora then said, “I remember that old oak tree was there when I was a little girl when I visited my grandpa and grandma there!” I bet that oak tree is 200 years old.

Then I talked to Joanne George Southern this week, and she told me about how she grew up in that house. Her father was Victor George. It had two bedrooms in the front and two rooms in the back, which were the kitchen and dining rooms. There was a back porch, which was a screened-in porch later on. Her daddy turned it into a living room later too.

I sat in the car and suddenly remembered something my mother told me. She said when she was dating my daddy, he used to come over to see her, and play dominoes with my grandpa, and she would be hanging over daddy’s shoulder very close and Grandpa would chew her out when Daddy left, for being so “familiar with that man.” I thought that happened right in that very house. I envisioned Mother laughing and flirting with Daddy as he played dominoes in that house.

Mack and Leona Harrell were Mother and Daddy’s best friends in those early days. They double-dated and then when Mother and Daddy married, they continued to be best friends. I am so glad my mother had a best friend back then. Because when the children started coming for Mother, starting with me in 1932, then one baby a year, till they sold the farm in 1936, and with four babies under the age of 4, they moved miles away to the Kasper community, where Mother had no friends and was very lonely. Except for more children every other year!

When they married in the spring of 1931, I was born the next March. I probably played in the little house down the road when I was a toddler -- when I visited my grandma and grandpa there and was spoiled by my crowd of aunts and uncles!

As we drove down the narrow country road again, and passed the little white house again, I heard the sound of voices and laughter of children and adults, and a warm feeling came over me, because I felt the love from my ancestors wrapped around me.

All of them are gone now, but that little house still stands with their memories passed on to the future generations to come -- the Jasek, Goode, George, and Southern families. And whoever lived there before the Jaseks, and in between the Goodes and Georges. I am sure if those walls could talk, they would have some stories to tell.

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