• Rucker, Texas And The Great Depression

    The memories that Patty Hirst shares with us today are not hers but rather those of her mother who remembered the Great Depression years in Rucker, Texas.

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    A number of years ago when we were experiencing yet another dry summer and were lamenting the failure of our garden, my mother, Lavoyce Wallace Hirst, reminisced about the summers when she was a youngster growing up near Rucker during the Great Depression.

    Even though rain was sparse, she exclaimed, “They were the depression years, EVERYTHING was sparse!” It seemed that the family was blessed with an abundant garden year after year despite little rainfall.

    There were peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, onions, and one particular year, a bumper crop of potatoes. Her family lived back off the road on the north side of the railroad track; however they had a garden spot on the south side of the railroad and the bounty of the vegetables had to be hauled or usually carried in bushel baskets back to the house.

    She remembered especially the bountiful potato crop and remembered how heavy those tubers were. She wished she could have remembered how many bushel baskets of potatoes they carried and stored in their cellar for winter use. Things that could be canned, preserved, dried or in any way saved to eat during the winter were “put by.”

    My mother and grandparents didn’t have close neighbors, but they were never at a loss for company. As the nearest house to the railroad tracks in that area they had a steady stream of hobos at their back door asking for something to eat, and my mom said that her mother never sent a man away without giving something.

    It might have been a piece of cold cornbread or a biscuit, but she always came up with some morsel to ease the hunger just a bit, offered water from the well, and a place to take a moment’s rest.

    One day while a man was sitting out back eating my grandmother told him that she knew that other people in the community didn’t have the volume of men who came to her family’s farm. She said, “Why do so many people come here?”

    The hobo smiled and said, “Lady, we hobos have our own system of markings and symbols; your house is marked. There is a ‘sign’ in the fence row in front of your house that you’ll give food.”

    He continued, “We know which houses to stop at and which ones will run us off.”

    With this knowledge, my grandmother continued to share with whoever came to the door and as my mother remembered those lean years, they were never hungry themselves and continued to share with the folks that came to their door asking for food.

    Such was life in Rucker,Texasin the 1930’s…Patty Hirst

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    About Patty Hirst

    It doesn’t take long to discover that Patty Hirst loves Dublin, Texas, and the people who live in Dublin. She is also one of the reasons that Texansunited.com has been able to show the world just how special this Irish Texas town actually is. Quite often here on Texans United, you will find Patty in our News section, weighing in on what is happening in Dublin. But Patty Hirst is also a thinker, maybe even a dreamer,if you will. She sees the beauty in things that others never see...whether it be a rock, a single rose, or the stranger sitting on the park bench. Yes, Patty thinks good thoughts, and we've asked her to share thosse thoughts with all of us.
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    5 Responses to Rucker, Texas And The Great Depression

    1. Monty Johnson says:

      When I was 6 years old, My granny Winnie Ellis would let me walk down the dirt road to Rucker, and buy a Frostie root beer from Jesse James, the proprietor at the Lightfoot gas station. Across the road stood the ruins of the old cotton gin. The soda cost a dime, and sometimes Jesse would ‘cover my tab’. Our farm was owned by Sam and Viola Noel, across the road from the Grisham place.
      Kathy Grisham, she was my first crush.

    2. missy.jones says:

      Today, Tuesday morning, June 25th, I did a program on KCOM at 8:30 am here in Comanche. I talked about our gardens when I was a child. And how hard we all worked to have a good garden, with vegetables of all kinds that we canned and put on shelves in the cellar. I remember standing down in the cellar and seeing all of the jars, not just vegetables canned, but jellies and jams, such as plum thicket jelly, blackberry jelly, grape jelly, sweet pickled peaches (they looked like jewels, along with beets, pickled in vinegar, water, sugar and spices). We were rich and didn’t know it. We worked hard, and lazy people who didn’t, went hungry. I also talked about the fact that I do not remember a garden that suffered for want of rain. My daddy would water new tomato plants that he set out in the garden, but that was all of the watering that we did. We had the garden spot, and down in the field south of our house, on long rows, we had corn, black eyed peas and pinto beans. We were rich and didn’t know it. Missy Jones

    3. missy.jones says:

      One other comment. Regarding the hobos, it is hard to think that so many men wanted to work, but there were no jobs to be had. And, they were, lots of times, riding the rails. In about 1936, we lived off of highway 36 to Gustine, to the right of the CR 222 turn off. I remember hobos (hitchhikers) coming by our house. My mother always had some left over biscuits during the morning, and she always had several to give out, maybe with a sausage patty in the biscuits. I remember she would slice open these biscuits, put maybe sausage patties in them, and also put pear preserves in between the biscuit slices. Maybe she helped some poor man on his journey. MJ

    4. Missy Jones says:

      Fredda, one more comment about the “hobos”. People now can not even comprehend just how terrible the times were during the “Great Depression.” I talked about the men coming to our house, they would have been willing to work for a meal, but no one had jobs, and no money to pay anyone to work for them. We had a “Victrola”, a wind-up record player and one of the old records, probably from 1930 or before was “Hallelujah, I’m a bum”. and here are some of the words:
      “I went to a house and I knocked on the door
      and the lady said, “bum, bum, you’ve been here before”
      Hallelujah, give us a hand out
      Hallelujah, amen
      Hallelujah, give us a hand out
      and revive us again”.

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