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Recalling memories of Schneider’s Store in Dewees
Schneider’s Store is still open for business in the community of Dewees.
The Dewees Store is also known as Schneider’s because Alfred Schneider and his wife, Helen, owned and operated the store and a cotton gin next to it in Dewees beginning in the 1930s. The cotton gin was in use for years as long as cotton was grown in Wilson County. I guess in 1950, there were still farmers that grew cotton.
My little brother, Sammy, was just a young kid in the 1950s. Being the baby of the family, he got a lot of attention. He tagged along with Daddy everywhere he went. He listened to a lot of grown-up conversations. Going over to Schneider’s store at Dewees, on the way to Poth, was fun for him.
Cotton gins are big and noisy and scary, if you are a little boy. We didn’t have cotton then, but some farmers did, and it was going loud and long in the early ’50s. Sammy walked down toward the gin from the little general store and filling station, while Daddy was inside drinking a beer and catching up on the local farm news.
The cotton gin was fascinating but scary. He watched the cotton going up that long chute, being gathered into the big machinery up so high, and he couldn’t take his eyes away from it, yet he trembled with fear at the deafening noise. He imagined somehow he might be caught up in that chute and be eaten up by the machine that was so loud to Sammy.
My brother Bob said when he was a little boy Mother and Daddy would stop by there and get ice cream cones for the kids. Back then an ice cream cone was 5 cents! Well, you can still get an ice cream cone there, but in 60 years it has gone up a little bit.
Helen and Alfred ranched and built a house near the store. Helen built a log home after Alfred passed away in 1967. The cotton gin continued running as long as people grew cotton in the county. My daddy grew his last crop of cotton in 1952. By then the drought had set in and nobody was making cotton after that. So finally the gin was shut down.
The Dewees Store is still there today. They have a patio in back for parties and events -- even weddings. Since the oil people have come, they have built an RV park on the property in back. They still serve sandwiches and hamburgers during the lunch hour.
The parishioners from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church still come after Mass on Saturday evening to drink beer at Schneider’s Store at Dewees. It is still a place to meet friends and catch up on local news like “How much rain did you get last week?” or “I heard those durn Pirates beat Nixon last night! Did you see that game?”
My brother, Bob, and I went to Dewees the other day during the lunch hour. We ate delicious hamburgers and had ice cold Cokes and as we sat there we were transported back in time, 65 years ago, when I was 14 and Bob was 11, and I felt the same warm friendly vibes as I asked Bob if he wanted an ice cream cone. We did each have one!
Sometimes it is good when nothing has changed. Helen Schneider’s store at Dewees is still the same after all these years. I hope Alene Pawelek keeps Helen’s vision alive for many more years. I talked to Alene one day. She wants to show me some old pictures of the cotton gin that Helen Schneider gave her when she bought the place from her. I hope to write another story of the history of the gin.
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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