A tremendous thank you goes out to Carol Teich of Gustine, Texas for sharing her memories of her grandmother, Alice Jenkins.
One of my earliest memories is of Alice, my grandmother. She was always there, and I think of her as a woman of strong independent character, serious by nature, yet always pleasant in spirit.
Alice Jenkins was born in Comanche County on May 6, 1876. I know very little of her childhood years, but I do know that she and her sister, Mary, dated brothers, Rufus and Frank Adcock, later marrying them. Rufus and Alice were married in 1897 at the Jenkins’ home in the Creamer Community. They eventually became the parents of Addie, J.B., and twins, Floyd and Fred.
At times, Alice entertained her guests by reading Shakespeare. That tells us that she must have studied the Bard in depth sometime in her younger years. Having borne four children in five years after her marriage pretty much guarantees that she had no time in her adult life for studying!
Alice was a lady ahead of her times. She had been a teen in the 1920s, and she reached adulthood at a time when no women worked outside of the home. But Alice did! She would walk from her home near the school house to the Adcock Mercantile to help her husband in the store, leaving Addie to care for Floyd and J.B. to see after Fred.
The Adcock children were obedient to their mother. She would allow the twins to come to meet her in the afternoon when she was walking home from the store, but she drew the line at the end of the lane and told them they could not go one step further. They would walk to the end of the lane, put their toes on the line, and wait for her to come! Sometimes one of them might put one, but only one, foot over the line in order to lean out and look down the street to watch for her.
The Adcock Mercantile became a successful operation in Old Gustine due to the business acumen of both Rufus and Alice. The store was a grocery store on one side along with other needed items for the home. The other side of this large building carried sewing notions, material, a ready-to-wear department, a shoe department, and a millinery department.
Some of these may not be familiar to younger people today so I will pause here to say that many women sewed the clothing for her family instead of buying clothing that was “ready to wear.” Also, a millinery department is simply a place where hats are sold (or made).
Alice did the buying for all of the goods for the ladies. She would board the train at the Cottonbelt Depot in Old Gustine and go to Dallas to buy hats, etc. for the store. She probably did this twice per year, spring and fall, since that was when most ladies did the shopping for their families’ summer and winter clothing.
There was a period of time when a Mr. Catter had a clothing store in the Adcock building, and Alice traveled to Dallas to do his buying as well. Young people today may not think anything of heading off to Dallas, but in the early part of the 20th century, that was no small undertaking.
Yes, Alice was ahead of her time!
When the Adcocks no longer owned the mercantile, their children grown and gone, Alice did not sit on her laurels. She was a lover of flowers so she built flower beds, pretty little paths, and fish ponds in her yard. She made her yard quite a showplace.
Her largest venture was building two greenhouses by her home where she grew flowers year round, therefore, becoming the first florist in Gustine. It must have been more of a hobby than a profitable business because in the 1930s, flowers were not bought every day as they are now.
The mercantile was no more, but the Adcock store lived on. Later, and for years, Fred and his wife, Onda, operated a grocery store and flower shop on the same corner where his parents had conducted business for so many years.
My Grandmother Alice Jenkins Adcock was certainly a lady before her time. -Carol Teich