Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Dad

     On this day, 1890, my father was born to William Floyd Anderson and Sarah Clementine Colville Anderson; he lived until October 29, 1974. His early years were spent in Hill County, in a little community named Vaughan, located south of Hillsboro, Texas. He was the first son in a family of six girls, followed later by a brother, Clark and sister Fannie.
     He never denied the family claim that he was spoiled outrageously and accepted it as his due after his marriage to my mother.
     Spoiled or not, he enjoyed his childhood in the black land of Hill County, and often spoke fondly of those years. He told of making wagon trips in the late summer or early fall to what he spoke of as “the timber” to stock their winter supply of wood and he also spoke of bluebonnets growing knee high and of the children playing and rolling around in their lush growth.
     Christmas was celebrated happily in his family but drastically different from today’s extravaganza. Each child received a toy or other appropriate gift and fruits, candy and nuts filled their stockings. His favorite gift was a small saw which he kept all his life, and which has been passed on to one of his granddaughters with do-it-yourself carpentry inclinations.
     He often spoke of an older cousin trying to trade various items in an effort to relieve him of that little saw.
     There was a traditional Christmas cake baked by his older sisters; one he described as stacks of “teacake-like” layers decorated with icing and candies such as gumdrops and jellybeans. He declared that it was so dry as to be almost inedible but year after year it appeared as a traditional Christmas goodie Obviously, it was memorable.
     Dad’s most prized possession was a covered pocket watch of white gold or platinum passed down from his father. I am now very curious about its metal; it did not darken as silver would, it did not turn yellowish as I am told white gold does, but I see no old pocket watches of platinum.  One of Dad’s great grandsons is now the owner so perhaps he can find the answer.
     His greatest regret of lost or destroyed family pieces was the thoughtless destruction of the old grandfather clock which he found lying shattered on the floor of a storeroom. Old things were not always valued and cared for, as they should have been.
      Dad spoke of a school he attended in Ft. Worth as the old Polytechnic school, which now is Texas Wesleyan. If some of his old textbooks were an accurate indication of its curriculum, most of us would be in trouble taking the courses. I never saw any signs of him absorbing any Latin so I expect he soon moved on to other interests!
      From Ft. Worth he joined other family members in West Texas. There were two sisters living in Sweetwater and he spent a short time working for a brother-in-law there in a dry cleaning business but soon decided that dealing with the public was not his life-time goal and invested in a farm in a nearby community named Eskota. There he became a successful cotton farmer until the Crash of ‘29, which wiped him out. Cotton, was too cheap to pay for its picking and lay wasting in the fields.
     He and my mother had become acquainted upon the urging of a niece who knew my mother as a teacher and prevailed upon her uncle and friend to write each other. They became acquainted via the U.S. Mail and later married in 1925, only four years before the world changed for the United States with the onset of the Great Depression.
     With no cash crop and a wife and child to support, (My mother was a teacher but as a married woman she no longer was allowed to teach) Dad was more fortunate than some, finding a place to live in Parker County and after moving there, it became his home for the rest of his life.
     I remember him as a roll-your-own cigarette smoker; one who strictly limited himself to two smokes per day, always from his can of Prince Albert tobacco. He was a voracious reader and somehow managed, even in those depression days, to subscribe to The Saturday Evening Post and a few other periodicals, which were probably part of a trade, magazine salesmen being desperate to take anything they might be able to turn into money. Until he declared I was old enough to read for myself, he read to me from those magazines and filled many hours of my life with bits of information concerning all phases of nature which he loved.
     He was a hard worker and a very independent man, determined to continue his life as a farmer, for he loved the country. He had chosen the life of a farmer for its freedom and chafed under the Government intrusions into his life as laws were passed to help the nation recover from the Depression.
      Nevertheless, together he and my mother had worked their way up from being sharecroppers to once more owning their own place and saw their daughter married to a young man who promised to take care of her.