George Andrew Graham, Jr. was sickly as I remember him during the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. He got pretty sick after driving the cows from the farm about 5 miles outside of Morton, Texas to the White House nearer to Morton. I remember Mother Bess putting some kind of poultices on the back of his neck to get the boils or abscesses to open. I watched as she would pick at these with one of those sewing needles that she burned over a candle to get the germs off the needle. She did this before she used it on his neck.
He missed a lot of school. After we moved from this White House into Morton city limits behind the café he was in some sort of hospital or doctor’s office where he had overnight beds. In fact, George was in that house for several weeks on one occasion. I did not like going there because it smelled like ether. I hated ether ever since the doctor gave me that stuff to sedate me while he operated on my left foot. Mother visited him there daily. One day she was so busy she could not take him some clean clothes so she begged me to go. She finally convinced me that I should go see George because he had asked to see me.
I must have been eight or nine at the time and that would make George sixteen or seventeen. He was about nine years my senior. This time they had to put him to bed because he went out for the football team and went into some kind of heart leakage. After my medical training years later, I found out he had an aortic heart valve that leaked badly. I took him the clean clothes and we talked some and he wanted me to come see him more. I noticed he had a bunch of books there on the floor by his hospital like bed and he told me the teacher had brought those so he could keep up his studies.
When George finally got out of that place the doctor warned him never to play sports again because it could kill him. Friends in town would take him to school in their cars and pickup trucks to keep him from having to walk very far.
George did finally graduate from high school and after the WWII started he went to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and worked in the defense plants. There were several of the young men who had gone there to work because they heard it would keep them out of the war.
After a couple of years working there we got some unsettling news. Some of these young men got into trouble and had to join the Army anyhow. George was one of this group but because he had this heart problem, he was sent to a work camp in Seagoville, Texas.
This was all very hush, hush in our family and I just assumed that George was being punished because of his heart disease. He did not have to stay there very long and then came back to Lubbock, Texas and went to Texas Tech and met a beautiful young lady by the name of Zylphia Neely. They became the parents of two neat young boys by the name of George Andrew Graham, III (Andy) and Clifford Dale Graham.
George finally got his heart valve replaced and lived to the ripe age of 87. The family is so proud of George and his accomplishments.
Living behind the café in Morton, Texas had its challenges as well as conveniences. Mother Bess did not have to travel that far for work. The kids had a lot more neighbors to play with. Dad even bought a booth from a traveling circus where you could throw baseballs at objects on a shelf about 30 feet away and if one was successful in knocking the object off the shelf a prize was to be awarded.
Dad of course let his two young sons man the booth most of the time. One day two older boys came to the booth and instead of paying the 25 cents for three throws, they just started throwing the balls anyhow. Dad heard the commotion while he was in the café working and came out rapidly and caught the arm of one of the boys while he was winding up to throw. His friend saw that an older person was actually in charge of the place and he came up behind Dad and was about to leap up and grab Dad around the neck when Bob tacked that boy. These rapscallions saw that they were outnumbered and fled the premises.
Another disadvantage was all that extra noise made by traffic around the square and extra peeping toms. I had some beautiful sisters and this fact seemed to attract young male wanders especially at night. There was no air-conditioning in the sleeping quarters so the windows had to be left open for survival. Not a problem on the farm but a hazard in the city. My sisters became quiet adept at using noise and flashlights and rocks to distract the attention these stalkers caused.
One night I awoke from a sound sleep and thought I was witnessing a break-in at my bedroom window. I made a lot of noise and nearly scared “Fluffy” the Persian cat to death. She was climbing through a hole in the screen to get back in the house after doing her prowling. I repaired that screen the next morning and wondered when this hole had been made and who or what had made it.
In 1940 or 1941 a new fellow came to town to open a drycleaners. His name was R. B. Ford. He had a brother who came to help him. This brother’s name was Gilbert Ford. Gilbert and Leola started dating and Mother did not like Gilbert too much. Leola however did like Gilbert and they eventually got married. They were married April 7, 1941. They moved to New Mexico where Gilbert got a job. Out of this marriage came Paul Douglas and Gail Ford.
Bob had a lot of fun with Paul when they came to visit. When Paul was about 2 years of age Bob was trying to train Paul to say “pepper belly” when he saw someone of the Hispanic descent. Bob got thoroughly scolded by Leola when she heard what he was doing. Charles would NEVER have participated in anything like that!!!
Mother had a green thumb deluxe. She planted some morning glories at the back of the café and they were the highlight of the short trip of 10 to 15 feet from the old hotel (our Morton house) and the café. I hated to see fall come and those flowers go to seed. She would always harvest the seed and reuse them. Such a blessing to have Mother the gardener around.
The 11 degree temperature this morning reminded me of the small porch/ bedroom that I shared with my two brothers, George and Bob. We were living in the White House near Morton at the time. The porch had a leaning roof. There was no insulation in the walls. Needless to say, this was a very cold room on nights like we had last night.
Mother Bess had to entice her sons to go to bed with a bed warming technique. We had a large wood/coal stove in the living room. The living room substituted for a master bedroom for my parents. Mother Bess would warm some bricks on the top of this stove and wrap them with a towel. She would then take them to the lean-to bedroom and place the bricks at appropriate areas between the sheets. This took about 30 minutes to get the bed warm enough to allow her sons to venture out into the lean-to.
I was usually sandwiched in between Bob and George. We had tons of blankets on the bed and stayed reasonably warm in sub freezing temperatures. I do not recall being cold after I got under the covers. Did I ever wet the bed? I suspect that I did on occasions when I refused to get out of bed to use the “slop jar”.
We did not have to worry about the pipes freezing up. We had no pipes. Our piping system was a bucket out to the well and back. A bath took a 3 bucket trip. Drinking water was one bucket at a time.
As I was taking to Mary (92 going on 93 as of January 30) today she reminded me of the time she saved the day. It was morning time and I was searching for my one missing boot. Someone suggested to me that it might be under the couch. I got me a match to look under the couch with. A lit match I might inform you. Me and a lit match – a bad combination. Some of the strands under the couch got in the way of my match and promptly caught on fire.
Mary, conveniently was taking a bath in a number 3 tub behind a curtain and heard the commotion of everyone evacuating the house. She took her bath water and promptly saved the day by putting the smoldering fabric out.
Me, Leola, Bob and Janie were standing on the south side of the house out of harms way when Mary called us and said we could come back in.