Helen Croft & Bits Of Long Ago Proctor, Texas

Alexander Watson Proctor

Alexander Watson Proctor

When I was growing up, Helen Croft was the Post Master of the little community of Proctor, Texas. Being allowed to walk “down” to the Post Office for the mail was a huge treat for a country girl whose own family mail was delivered into a big silver box at the end of the lane…no romance at all in that.

But that’s not how they did it at Proctor!

No, at Proctor was an actual Post Office, old, of course, which made it all the better, and inside were those beautiful gold boxes that held all kinds of treasures for a little girl with an imagination. So what if only the light bill, as my grandfather called it, was in the box. It had become sanctified simply by having been allowed into the box at all, you see.

Also at the Proctor Post Office was a beautiful woman who was never to busy to hand out a kind word to those who came for their mail….even if one of them was only a little girl with no news to share. That beautiful woman was named Helen Croft…Mrs. John Croft of Proctor, Texas. When I recently happened upon an interview Helen did years ago with Jewell Dukes Huddleston in the Comanche Chief, I knew that I wanted to share her memories and the memories of those long gone from Proctor with you.

Helen Croft was appointed the Post Master of Proctor in 1964, a time when so many of the “old timers,” as she called them, were still living. Of course, when they came for their mail, they also came with a story to tell the young woman. One of the men who told her about the early days in the Proctor area was Lonzo Kay who related tales of the drought of 1886.

After leaving the town of Dublin, the old stage road to San Angelo, if one could even call it a road, followed Walnut Creek to the Leon River crossing. As the drought of the 1880s worsened, Walnut Creek (like others across the state) completely dried. According to Mr. Kay, the only water then to be had came from a spring on the Kay place.

“Mr. Kay could remember the small Spanish stage ponies being brought to the water hole to drink. He could still see them in his mind’s eye – prancing in excitement and thirst, wading in and rolling the water to muddiness as they drank. This upset his mother who had to wait until it settled to be fit for use in household chores.”

It was a very different life, wasn’t it? Horses in the drinking water…

By the turn of the century, life was definitely easier than it had been for those original settlers to the area. Proctor’s Mae Reid, who would eventually become Helen Croft’s mother-in-law, remembered being allowed to take herself and two younger sisters all the way to Dublin on a shopping trip. What an outing for the day!

The girls, of course, traveled in a buggy, and as her father had directed, Mae drove straight to the livery stable/wagon yard. When the stable boy asked Mae what services she would like for the horse and buggy, she did what any girl of any generation (who had no idea what to say) would have done. She bluffed it!

“Oh, twenty-five cents worth,” Mae told the young man.

Of course, poor Mae was very embarrassed to later learn from her father that the normal charge should have been a nickel and certainly no more than a dime!

And we can thank the Comanche Chief, Jewel Dukes Huddleston, and Helen Croft for these bits of long ago lore as well as for the photos* found here.

Proctor Well

Proctor Well

County Champs Back: Jo Scarborough, Nelda Court, Velda Stephens, Lawanda Stephens, Nita Fay Abernathy Middle: Billie Ruth Abernathy, Polly Salyer, Coach Perry Moring, Leslie Boyd, Marjorie Trimble, Lila Mae Johnson Front: Mary Hughes, June Pinson, Helen Hughes, Jo Ann Collinsworth

1944-45 County Champs
Back: Jo Scarborough, Nelda Court, Velda Stephens, Lawanda Stephens, Nita Fay Abernathy
Middle: Billie Ruth Abernathy, Polly Salyer, Coach Perry Moring, Leslie Boyd, Marjorie Trimble, Lila Mae Johnson
Front: Mary Hughes, June Pinson, Helen Hughes, Jo Ann Collinsworth

I believe the names of the boys below are correct; however, I would love to know exactly which name goes with which boy. Please use the comment boxes below if you can help. Thanks!

Coach J.W. Hornburg Boys (I'm not sure the order) Derrel Whitehead, J.H. Graham, Fred Rackley, Ernest Myers, W.P. Brown, Wayne Gossage

Coach J.W. Hornburg
Boys (I’m not sure the order) Derrel Whitehead, J.H. Graham, Fred Rackley, Ernest Myers, W.P. Brown, Wayne Gossage

Don’t you just love old stories and old photos? :)

*If any of you have these photographs or others like them in your collection, Texansunited.com in conjunction with the Comanche County Historical Museum would love a chance to copy them. 325-280-9083

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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22 Responses to Helen Croft & Bits Of Long Ago Proctor, Texas

  1. Chuck Ratliff says:

    Nelda Court in your picture of the Proctor girls basketball team was my Mother’s sister.


  2. Traci says:

    Mom told me that Mr Kay was my great grandmother’s brother.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Who was your great-grandmother?

      • RoxAnna Rackley Fuquay says:

        Our Great Grandmother (mine and Traci’s) was Fay (Kay) Pinson and her daughter was Reva Rackley married to Fred Rackley.


        • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

          Thanks, RoxAnna! I don’t know if I ever told you that when I owned my first health club…(we called them spas back then; today, I suppose they would be gyms)…your mom worked out with me there. I just loved her! And you can believe me when I tell you that I knew all about you and just how special you really were long before we ever met!! :)

          • RoxAnna Rackley Fuquay says:

            Thank you. This means a lot to me especially considering my mother and I share October 5th as our birthdays and I get a little sensitive this time of year not being able to celebrate with her.

  3. Traci says:

    Fay Pinson

  4. Ruth Cattles Cottrell says:

    The article about the Proctor Post Office reminds me of some other Proctor Bits I’ve thought about. During the 1950s, there was a telephone exchange in Proctor. The office with the switchboard was across the street from the Post Office and would have almost backed up to the big Davis house. Apparently someone in the area could afford a telephone, certainly not the Cattles family though. It was a small metal building almost next to the big mercantile building and directly across from the well. I don’t recall if it is still there. In 1951 when I joined Mrs. Hately’s first grade class (I was 5 but she said come on in – no K back then of course,) one of my classmates was Judy Hickey. Her mother was the switchboard operator and she had a slightly older sister named Gloria. They lived in that building. Shortly after that, the family moved to Dublin, I think to live with the grandparents, and sometime after that they had a brother. Probably the telephone service was closed about then because I don’t recall it being there in the later 1950s. The telephone line finally got to our farm about 1961 and we got one. I’ve often wondered what happened to the family and if anyone is still in touch with Judy or Gloria.

  5. Sue Evans Darwin says:

    I was raised in Proctor. Our PO Box was PO 98. However, it was not necessary to use the number as Helen knew which box was ours. Daddy got mail addressed to: Claude Evans, Proctor, Texas. I love looking at the old Census records and seeing those people that I thought had just always been old were once up a time only 22. When sister and I were very small, we lived in Gustine. Our grandpa Evans would walk down to the Telephone office and call us. We got so excited. When my great-uncle Virgil died in 1947, my Daddy went to the Telephone office and made the long distance calls to his uncle in Kansas and his aunt in Oklahoma to inform them of the death. The operator wrote up receipts for the cost of the calls. My grandma Evans saved them and I still have them. I can scan them for you if you are interested. I love that I grew up in Proctor and was privileged to go to Proctor school. What I remember about Mr. Kay is that he revved his car up a LOT before he actually got going.

  6. Randy Russell says:

    I grew up in Proctor as well. Lila Mae Johnson in the basketball picture is my mom. I remember going by to visit Fay Pinson in my earlier years. The well in the middle of the road, the old feed store on the corner, if I remember right Ward Woods used to run it I think. Joyce Powells mom lived right down the street from us. Going to the peanut dryers where mom worked and unload trailers and trucks loaded up with peanuts. Riding bicycles and gathering soda bottles to sell to the store that McCameys ran and the day when Leslie was killed in a motorcycle wreck crossing the highway. Lots of memories growing up there could go on and on.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      I don’t think I know who Leslie was. Thanks so much for your comment; I have so many memories of Proctor!

      • Randy Russell says:

        Leslie was McCameys, I can’t remember the parents name, youngest son, I think the accident was around the summer of 1975 area. I was out of school for the summer and had started working at Wolf Pecans, like most kids did for the summer, I was about 13 at the time. Remember feeling really strange, kinda sick that morning. Found out later that day what had happened

        • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

          Randy, I can’t place what accident you are referring to here. If you happen to see my question, I would love to know.

          • Randy Russell says:

            Leslie was riding his motorcycle and went across HWY377 one day. On his way back across 377 to the town side he somehow pulled out in the path of a 18-wheeler. Seems there was a dirt road behind the community center area that went across 377 cant place the road right now , been a while since I’ve looked for it..

  7. RoxAnna Rackley Fuquay says:

    I remember those peanut dryers, but we didn’t dry ours there. We had dryers at our house, well not right at the house but close enough, and I remember going up into the trailers of peanuts. I’m not sure if I was suppose to do that or not. My Dad has been a bit of a camera nut for as long as I can remember and he has some neat pictures of the dryers all fired up and drying the peanuts.

  8. steve biggs says:

    I grew up in proctor, lived there until 3rd grade. moved 9 miles south toward Comanche in 1967. countless memories, wouldn’t know where to start. love the history here! thank you Fredda for posting this!

  9. Gary Harbin says:

    I also grew up in Proctor. Lived with my grandparents Ponnie (WWI vet), and Pearl Smith from 1949 until 1958. Played with Ritchie Croft and went to school with Sue and Claudia Evans. I would walk to the post office barefooted weather permitting to get the mail and hopefully a softdrink if I had any money. It was a good place to grow up.

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