Monday, July 6, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities (Towns)


Traveling home from Muleshoe, Dan wanted to drive through the town of Lorenzo. His grandfather Baker farmed cotton in three Texas communities (or possibly four). He lived in Haskell when he was married and when Dan's mother, Vera, was born. We don't know for sure whether he farmed there. By 1910 he lived in Oenaville, near Temple, where he definitely did farm. Three of his children, JM, Leo and Wiley, were born there. By 1930 he had moved to Lorenzo, where his son, Jacque, was born. And, finally, he moved his family to Muleshoe to continue farming cotton.

Before this trip, Dan had been to three of the four places his grandfather lived as an adult, but he had never been to Lorenzo. So we came home a different route than usual, just so we could see Lorenzo. It was a typical, quaint little west Texas farming town.


On our way home rom Lorenzo, as we headed south toward Abilene, we drove through Anson. Anson is the town where Dan and I lived during the 1970-71 school year. Dan was teaching school at Anson High School, and I was commuting to Abilene to do my student teaching and finish up my coursework at Abilene Christian College (now University).

We lived in a little, white clapboard house on the edge of town. It was old, but we were happy to live there. It was the first time we had lived in a single-family house. We bought paint and curtains, and lovingly decorated our little cottage. It had a washing machine (in the kitchen), which was really "up town" for us. No dryer, though. To dry the clothes we had to hang them on the lines at the back of the house. That worked okay on a good day. On a bad day, when the wind was blowing the wrong way, our clothes came in with West Texas dust all over them and, even worse, smelling like the chickens next door. Because of the dust and the distasteful aroma, I usually washed the clothes at home and carried them, wet, across town to dry them at the laundromat.

Mrs. Orr was our landlady. She was an 80-something-year-old widow lady who usually wore baggy denim overalls, work boots and a big, broad-brimmed straw hat. She loved to work in her garden and take care of her chickens - yes, those stinky chickens! She also had never heard of landlord/tenant rules. To her, "our" house was "her" house, and she came bursting in through the back door, hollering, "Yoohoo! Comin' in!", any time she wished. Back then no one locked doors, but Mrs. Orr's "visits" to our little newly-wed nest were an impetus for us to do so. That didn't really help though. She had a key in her pocket at all times, and still barged in whenever the urge struck her.

Spring of 1971 was an important time for me. I was to graduate with my degree in Elementary Ed, from ACC. And, of course, my parents were coming for the big event. No problem . . . we had TWO bedrooms in our little white house. And Mrs. Orr said she had a spare bed in her storage shed. In preparation for Mom and Dad's visit, Dan and a friend moved the bed from the shed to our extra room. It was an iron frame and an old mattress that was so flexible it could almost be folded in half. You could feel every spring, just below the ticking, and it made loud squwking noises whenever you moved on it. But it was a BED, and we were proud to beat the dust out of the mattress and dress it up for Mom and Dad's visit. It was years later when Mom told me how miserable they were trying to sleep on that thing. But at the time, they made us believe that they couldn't have been more comfortable, even at the Hilton.

So, coming through Anson on our way home this weekend, we both felt a strong urge to find our little house. Working together, we were able to drive to it with no trouble. But it didn't really look like the tidy little white clapboard cottage we had been so proud of. The dirt road it sits on hasn't changed at all, but the house has undergone years of neglect and stands unloved and vacant at the corner of 7th and Ave. G.

1 comment:

Lois said...

We also took a tour of our first home this summer. It was the first time back in fifty years We enjoyed the memories that flooded back.