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At Schneider’s Store you can go home again
A little boy poses by the old gas pumps at Schneider’s Store.
Rainy Days and Starry NightsAugust 28, 2013 3,376 views 1 comment
Something keeps drawing me back to Schneider’s Store, the little filling station on F.M. 541 at Dewees, in the southwest part of Wilson County. It has been there for more than 80 years.
I think I feel attached to the store because it is the only business or school left in that part of the county that I remember from 75 years ago. Before television and Internet came in, it was the era of small farmers living out there, and small schools that were the meeting places for all the families in that part of the county. Now the small farmer is a thing of the past. It is so sad.
I read a book called You Can’t Go Home Again. Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can’t go home again, but he also wrote: “Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. The voice of forest water in the night, a woman’s laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children’s voices in bright air -- these things will never change.” He is right -- some things never change.
Schneider’s Store is the only link to my past when we lived on a 100-acre farm by Kasper School west of Poth on the road, and that store is still standing and in business today! All the schools have been torn down and mesquite brush and cactus is all that is there on the site of Kasper School. You can’t even see the old cistern that sat near the school. Eight years ago, I was out there and the cistern was still there, and I think I took a picture of it. And a barren field is all that remains on the site of Dewees School across the road from Schneider’s Store.
Last week I visited with Alene Pawelek, the owner, who bought the store and land around it from Helen Schneider in 1997. She first met Miss Helen when she would come with a group of friends from the Catholic church in Poth after Mass on Saturday night. Miss Helen was going to sell the place, so Alene put her name in the hat with three other persons who wanted to buy it too. They had more money than she did, so she didn’t think she would get it. Alene Pawelek was the one Miss Helen chose to buy the store. But Miss Helen owned and operated Schneider’s Store for more than 65 years!
During cotton ginning season, the old cotton gin was a busy place with wagons pulled up and in line with their loads of cotton waiting to be ginned and baled. Miss Helen would begin in the early morning cooking up big pots of stew or chili. The farmers could come in the store all day long to get a bowl of stew or chili for 50 cents and a bottle of soda pop for 5 cents. She would also cut up cheese and sausage and weigh it on a scale and sell it with soda crackers for $1. It was a full meal! I am sure the old-timers still around that part of the county remember those days!
John Steinbeck wrote, “Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memories.”
Sometimes I go to Schneider’s Store, sit, and drink a cold soda pop or cold beer, and listen to the sound of voices and laughter and the radio playing, and I feel I have come home again.
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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