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Ada Mae — a life of challenge and joy
Rainy Days and Starry NightsApril 24, 2013 | 2,520 views | Post a comment
Ada Mae Goode was my aunt, my mother’s younger sister. I remember how much fun she was to talk to. She experienced her first loss in 1918 when she was 2 years old. Her twin brother, “Sonny Boy,” died at that time of Bright’s disease. Little Ada Mae felt that she lost a part of herself that day. She and Sonny Boy had been together since they were in the womb of their mama. That was a sad time for all in the family. They were living in Lee County, Texas, near Lexington. There were three children, Bertie Lee (my mother), William, and Ellen, who was born in 1919.
That year my grandfather decided to move to Coleman County, where some of my grandmother’s family (the Evers family) had settled on farms. Maybe he felt that it would get her mind off losing her baby boy. So in 1919 Ada Mae, 3 years old, moved to Coleman County with her family. Her daddy took the family on a train where they loaded all their household goods and furniture and farm equipment on it too.
Uncle Ben picked them up at the train station. He had gotten my grandpa Earl a job working for a farmer. They had a little two-room house to live in on the man’s ranch, and that winter Grandpa hunted and worked for the man. But the family was happy because they had kinfolk near and they were snug and warm with the five of them in that two-room cabin.
But then Grandpa decided to move again. Uncle Ben and Aunt Mary lived in a community called “Down in the Bend of the River” in McCullough County. A few months later they moved to that community. The children started school in a little two-room schoolhouse.
The next year they consolidated that little school with a bigger three-room school and called it Harding School. Ada Mae started school there, along with Bertie Lee and William.
But my grandpa decided to move again! This time they moved to Waldrip -- still in McCullough County. Waldrip was a small town with a church, school, drugstore, and a mercantile store. It was 1 mile from the Colorado River, and the kids loved that place. Also they liked the Waldrip School and had a lot of friends. They were not too far from Uncle Ben and his family. They had cousins to play with. The children and Grandma were hoping they could live there forever. But it was not to be.
It was in 1926 that Earl moved his family again, back to Coleman, but it was to a farm again out in the country. The kids had to go 3 miles into town to Coleman School. Bertie Lee and William talked their parents into letting them quit school. They were 14 and 15 and Grandpa needed them to work with him in the fields. The younger kids -- Ada Mae had several more brothers and sisters by then -- walked the 3 miles into Coleman to go to school and 3 miles home.
Ada Mae was struggling in school. It was hard to understand her speech, and she had trouble learning how to read. Perhaps she had a lisp or stuttered. She must have had a learning disability but in those days they didn’t know how to help these kinds of kids. The other children always made fun of Ada Mae when she talked.
She was so miserable in school her parents took her out of school. She went to work in the fields instead of going to school. She was only 10 years old.
They lived there in that house for about four years where Earl rented the farm on shares and the family picked cotton in the fall for cotton farmers in Central Texas, to make extra money.
The Depression came and in the fall of 1930, when Ada Mae was 14 years old, the Goode family moved again -- near Floresville in Wilson County.
The younger kids walked to Green School and home again. The younger kids started school in January but Ada Mae stayed home to help with the younger children and to work on the farm.
When she was 17, she married Otha Heathcock from near Elmendorf. But that’s what happened to most children with farming parents during the Depression years. As soon as they could, they got married and began a life again of hard work. Times were very hard for everyone at that time in America. My aunt Ada Mae’s life the next 30 or 40 years was not easy. But she never lost her ability to laugh and bring joy to those around her!
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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