Marguerite Wood Graham was graduating from Morton High School in 1937. I was finishing the first grade when this happened. Marguerite was leaving the nest. She was the oldest of the siblings. In Marguerite’s book “Growing up with Eight Siblings During the Depression” she details in Chapter X her frustration about schooling after High School. Dad said he could not afford to send her to Abilene Christian College because of the expense. He suggested Beauty School. Dad had the philosophy that someone should not go to college unless they had a specific major outlined. She enrolled at Arlene’s Beauty School in Lubbock.
I wanted to clear a date up in Marguerite’s book about when Andrew (Dad) was elected to office. She said that it was 1937. I called the Cochran County Court House and talked to Connie Jo Baker. She was kind enough to go to the County Judge’s Office and look at Dad’s picture. She told me that he was county judge there the years 1935-1938. The county judge now serves 4 year terms in Texas. I am still trying to find out if the terms then were for two years instead of 4.
When Dad lost the election in 1938 he had to start planning for a new occupation. There was no way that he was going back to farming. He decided to open a café on the east side of the square. I remember Bob and Bill Deaver helping to clean out the attic in this old building. Dirt from sand storms had pilled up 6 to 8 inches and had to be taken out with buckets. The place was up and running as Graham’s Café in January 1939. We did not move to town right away but continued to live at the White House which was a mile and half from down town Morton.
Mother would get up every morning about 5 am and trudge down to the café to start the preparations for breakfast. My sisters would get me and Bob up and we would trudge to school. Dad was out looking for work elsewhere. We would all stop at the café on the way home to eat supper. Mother would trudge home about 7 or 8 pm and start over the next morning.
Business was slow until the Mexican workers came to harvest the crops. We were all enlisted to help in the café. My sisters were waitresses and me and Bob washed the dishes. Janie sat back in the back booth and played with her dolls. I got tired of café work and wandered down to the Wallace Theatre a few doors north on the east side of the square. They usually had circulars that I could deliver to the neighborhood.
About a year after we opened the Graham Café, Dad had the old hotel from Bledsoe, Texas moved behind the café. We had an outhouse behind this that we had to keep locked because other people would try to use it. We still had to haul our water from the café to the house so we could take our baths. The two buildings were separated by about 10 feet, so that was not too inconvenient. That was a lot better than walking out to the White House a couple of miles away.
We tried family style meals in the café for awhile. We had these long tables and everything was set up and usually Dad or a substitute would get out on the sidewalk, facing the courthouse and ring a bell to tell the population that lunch was ready. We finally stopped the family style meals when a drunk came in to eat and vomited on the table. This of coarse ruined everybody’s lunch.
George was still sickly with his rheumatic fever and not able to help much in the restaurant. He would take care of the chores at the house as much as he could tolerate.