My Story, page 5

by Dorothy (James) Reddell

Uncle Ben was a cotton farmer, a good one. He never owned his farm, but they always lived in a big old house and had plenty to eat. 

After we returned to Texas from New Mexico, my dad settled down to farming on the Culbertson farm. It was a large section of land cut up into smaller farms.

 Our house was a large, old two-story place. It is the first house I can remember living in. Uncle Ben's house was a few hundred yards east of us. I can remember four more houses nearby. Each family farmed a part of the Culbertson farms. 

In one of these homes northeast of us lived my dad's cousin, Walter Self (grandma's family), his wife, Mary, and their four sons, Roy, Charley, Herman, and J. C. Herman was my age and one of my first playmates. I remember thinking all these cousins were good looking. They had black hair, dark eyes, and olive complexions. I never saw any of them after I was 14 when we moved away from that area. They were the only relatives of my dad's I ever knew, outside of his immediate family. 

My sister Esta Lee was born while we lived here. I was five years, seven months old. My oldest half sister, Rosey, and oldest half brother, Artie, both were married during this time. I barely remember either event. 

From the Culbertson farm, we moved a few miles north to another farm. The house was much smaller, far too small for our big family. My half brother, Otha, had to use the dugout for his bedroom.

 Two events stand out in my memory that occurred while we lived here. One, I started to school; the other was the most wonderful Christmas we ever had. We never got to have a Christmas tree, but this Christmas, my dad helped a neighbor get a tree and trim it. 

We and the neighbor's children didn't get to see it until Christmas Eve night. I had asked for a baby doll and my half sister, Lorene, who is four years older than I, asked for a mama doll (one that could say "Mama"). When we finally got to see the tree, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And wonder of wonders, there was a beautiful baby doll nestled in its branches, and nearby was a big mama doll. There was no doubt in my mind who they belonged to. 

My only other memory of this night was that I took my doll to bed with me and the next morning when I awakened, it was gone. I was really upset until my mother explained she took it out of my bed after I went to sleep so I wouldn't accidentally push it out of the bed. 

When I was nine years and eight months old, my little sister, Leatrice Joy, was born. She was mother's fourth child and her last. I thought she was a beautiful baby and I adored her. When she was about two, the depression started. We were always so poor it didn't seem to make much difference, except up to then dad seemed to always have a job of some sort. Now he was out of one and couldn't seem to find one.

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Email Dan Reddell: bayshoredan@aol.com