Dec 5, 2016

Old Putt-Putt

Pin ItOur mother was room mother for Bobby Joe or me every year. This involved making cookies and punch for parties, and being chaperone for field trips. All the kids wanted to go in our car, which was a '28 Model A roadster with a rumble seat. We didn't open the rumble seat, but I recall one time it was open and Uncle Frank, Sissy, Bobby Joe, and I rode in the rumble seat and sang "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean" along Fredericksburg Road. Uncle Frank was a veteran of World War I, and that song dates from that era. The kids at school called our car Old Putt-Putt.

Daddy had promised to buy Mama a brand new car if she married him in 1938, and in the 1960s he still hadn't. I think he forgot about telling her that, but she didn't forget. After a series of used Chevrolets and Old Putt-Putt we finally got a new car when the Japanese came out with a four-cylinder. Daddy never would drive the Model A outside of town, but the mother of the lady next door bought it from us and she took it quite often out of town to see her other daughter, so it was road-worthy.

At school, for Valentine's parties the teacher made a Valentine's box covered with paper lace and hearts. Everyone put their Valentines in the box to be handed out at the party. We brought a Valentine for everybody because Mama said it wasn't fair if somebody didn't get any. We spent hours deciding which card to give to whom. We had the little hearts that had the sayings on them.

For Halloween we wore costumes, At Christmas we each brought a gift and each of us took one home. There were days off for military parades, and every year we had a Wednesday off for the stock shows and Southwestern Days, and they had a parade. We also had off for San Jacinto Day; there were events all week and the Battle of Flowers parade Friday afternoon. They had the river parade on Monday and Fiesta Flambeau was a lighted parade on Saturday night. All these matched up to the Rose Bowl parade at that time. The only difference was ours used paper flowers where they use real flowers.

Nov 27, 2016

Superstitions and Sayings

Mama knew every superstition that was known to man. Whether she believed them or not, she knew them. But some people took them seriously. One night, Bobby Joe and I were going out with Uncle Tuffy and Sissy, and Uncle Tuffy turned the car around and went around the block rather than cross the path of a black cat. That's supposed to be bad luck.

One night Grandma and Aunt Oakie were trying to keep me busy and said, "If you put salt on a bird's tail, you can catch it!" It must have worked because I spent hours trying to catch a bird with a salt shaker!

Another thing Mama said was if you spill salt, you should throw it over your left shoulder "to undo the bad luck." When you throw it over your left shoulder, you're throwing the salt in the Devil's face.
She said if you're working with silverware and you drop a knife, it means a man is coming; if you drop a fork, a woman's coming. If you drop a spoon, you'll be disappointed!

We also heard if you break a mirror you will have 7 years of bad luck. It was bad luck to walk under a ladder, I can see how that was bad luck or could be. It was also bad luck to open an umbrella indoors. Grandma (Vina Anna Wood) had an old umbrella that was tattered to strings, that she called a parasol. It was brown, and I don't know how many times she told me not to open it in the house.

Daddy had a number of sayings. One of them was when someone left in a hurry, he said "they were off like a jug handle" We weren't sure how a jug handle was off, so maybe that was from before our time. Another one was if something involved a lot of red tape or they asked a lot of questions, he would comment that they had to "smell your socks."  It occurred to me after I was well grown that he may have adapted that saying for polite company.

Daddy always said someone was a blooming idiot if they were in love. He called cannas "Raymond flowers" because my cousin's husband was named Raymond and he gave the first ones that Daddy had to him.

Daddy told me many times that I had  a "yarn by the tale" when I was engrossed in a book.

Another saying I really didn't understand was one that some of the Young cousins told about at a reunion. They said that one time they thought it was their brother coming back to get something. They told him that he could come inside if his nose was clean. But instead of the brother, it was the preacher come to visit. I don't know what it means to have your nose clean.

One superstition we would remember for a long time was, "If you see a red bird, company is coming that you are not expecting." One summer we--Daddy, Mama, Bobby Joe, and I--went fishing and we saw red birds everywhere. When we got back to town we found out that my aunt was coming from Arkansas with my two cousins and the cousins' kids. Then, Daddy's boyhood friend from Tarpley, who lived in California then, was going to be in town with his family. We still think a red bird means unexpected company.

We also heard things like "kicking the bucket," "putting your nose to the grind stone," and "helping your neighbors."

Grandma and Aunt Oakie were quick to tell you that thunder was bowling pins that God was using to make the noise! This was supposed to make young kids feel better when they heard thunder. Mama would also say it was the old man throwing potatoes in his wheelbarrow. At Grandma's they also kept nest eggs in the chickens' nests. I thought nest eggs told the chickens where to lay eggs, but they were really to keep snakes from getting the eggs. The glass eggs would break inside the snake after he ate them.

Oct 10, 2016

Holiday Celebrations

Pin ItWe spent a lot of Thanksgiving dinners at Grandma's and Aunt Oakie's house, but sometimes Mama would have everybody to her house, including her family. I remember one time we had duck for dinner and Uncle Frank made jokes about it that Mama didn't appreciate. We had the tables in the living room. Mama always got out her glasses and bowls and things that were her good dishes.

One Thanksgiving when we were at Grandma's, I remember the older people arguing about how FDR had changed Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of the month from the last Thursday to give an extra week for shopping. Back then, nobody shopped until after Thanksgiving. 

On Christmas, we always asked for things to be brought to our house and things to be brought to Grandma's house. Daddy always got upset because he didn't see why we had to spend so much money for Christmas. It is too bad he couldn't just enjoy us enjoying the holiday. Mama always took us to Wolff & Marx downtown to shop because they had a Santa that had a real beard, and they let the kids play in the aisles with the toys. Aunt Oakie always took us to Joske's to see the Christmas scenes in the windows. I thought that Santa Claus went from one store to the other.

The biggest Christmas we had was getting the new bicycles. Another year I got a bride doll. She also had roller skates and all kinds of clothes. Her name was Nanette. All my dolls had names and later all my daughters' dolls did, too. Some kids just call their dolls "Baby," but all ours had names, even the rag dolls.

On Christmas Eve, Mama and Bobby Joe and I always went to the Christmas program at church. It was a children's program. Sometimes Daddy stayed home and played Santa Claus. On Christmas morning, we went to Grandma's and Aunt Oakie's house. At their house, they had a saying that whoever said "Christmas gift" first got the gifts from everybody else. You had to say it first thing out of your mouth when you came in. I don't remember anybody ever getting the gifts, so it was just a saying.

Mama was from a German background, and in their traditions Santa Claus put the Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve and it would stay up until January 6th for the 12 days of Christmas. Daddy convinced Mama that it was bad luck to leave the tree up past New Year's, but it was really because he was afraid of fire.

On Easter we dyed eggs and made an Easter nest. Sometimes we got baby chicks at the feed store that were colored for Easter. They usually ended up at Aunt Ellie's or Grandma's because they both had chickens. Later, when he was in business, Bobby Joe tried giving away colored chicks, but no one would take them. I think they didn't like the fact that they were colored, and also by then they couldn't have livestock in town.

For Halloween, we had costumes and went trick-or-treating door-to-door at the neighbors--way far spread. I remember one year Aunt Oakie made us costumes that I called the Orange Witch and Wizard. It had a witch's hat and orange skirt and black top. Another year I remember going to Winn's and picking out a costume. When my own children were dressing up years later, the costumes were much more creative.

On Valentine's each classroom had a Valentine box and we gave cards to everybody in school.

Jul 25, 2016

Changing Traffic Patterns

Pin ItWe used to travel Zarzarmora Street to go to Grandma's. Later, they built freeways, and the downtown area where they didn't have freeway yet had traffic lights. They were set for a certain speed so if you went down at that speed, they would all be green. Bobby Joe and I would say, "Pop, pop, pop," and watch the lights change as we went through the area. 

The first freeway across San Antonio was Highway 87 that goes up to Fredericksburg to the north and Laredo on the other end. They built the north and south sections on each side of downtown first and left the middle in downtown to be built later. That was the section that had the traffic lights. We called the freeway the 'speedway'.

Way back when, there were horse-drawn wagons in the traffic. As time went by, there were fewer and fewer of them until there was a time when there were no horses.

One Christmas when I was in about sixth grade, I decided to learn to ride a bicycle. Mama went to work in the sewing factory to get Bobby Joe and me each a bicycle. Mine was a 24-inch bicycle, and it is the only bicycle I ever had. I dreamed about getting that bicycle until I actually had it.

I rode around the neighborhood on all the gravel streets, and to the store. It was a little store called Duran's where we got bread and milk. I rode some around the school and to the five-and-dime called Winn's. Their slogan was, "Save a trip to town, shop at Winn's!" They had stores in all the shopping centers in the suburbs. Later on, I worked for them.

San Antonio always had good bus service. One day it was 80 degrees or higher out on the Fairgrounds at the stockshow, but that night it was freezing, so ice formed on the power lines. Mama sent me to school on the bus that afternoon.

We rode the bus downtown, and when I was older, I rode it to the junior college, which was San Antonio College, called SAC. When I got off the bus, I walked across San Pedro Park to the college. Later, when Bobby Joe went to SAC, he couldn't find the car once he had parked it there.

When I went to San Marcos to university, one of the professors used to come in on the train. If you wanted to see who was coming to school, you would go to the train station. Later, people went on the Greyhound bus or the Continental bus. That's how I went to school a lot. Even later, people came in their own cars.

Jul 22, 2016

Games People Played: A Typical Day

Pin It In the mornings, we played with Sharon and Jimmy Fanscki, who lived three doors down from us. One summer we had stilts. We walked back and forth from our house to theirs on stilts. Daddy made my stilts the same height as the porch so I could just walk off onto them.

When we moved over to Grandma's house we played Pitching Washers, Daddy and I against Bobby Joe and Mama. We played in the driveway. You had a hole and stood 'just so far' from it and pitched washers and tried to get them in the hole. We played every evening after supper. 

After lunch we had a siesta and then played outside between the houses in the shade. One day when my school friends came over, we did gymnastics on the quilt between the houses. 

Bobby Joe and Ray Berry, who lived next door and was a few years older than Bobby Joe, made a movie with a camera. They took still shots of westerns and used ketchup as the blood, but the pictures were black and white so they didn't turn out like they expected and they were disappointed.

One morning, Bobby Joe and I had a circus. Our Mama was our most important guest. We had a clown and Bobby Joe did tricks. Bobby Joe thought he was going to get rich selling tickets. Mama was the only paying customer, along with possibly three or four kids. Needless to say, we didn't get rich!

Daddy talked about playing Mumblety Peg when he was young. It was a game boys used to play with pocket knives. It was where they went through a whole series of things, like we did with jacks. I think Daddy thought he must have grown up in the best time to grow up in rural Bandera County. 

Sometimes after supper we got out the croquet set. Some evenings Mama and Daddy would play, along with whatever kids were there. Daddy was notorious for almost winning and then using his club to hit people's balls all over the yard. 

At night we had a street light in front of our house that made our house and the one across the street the gathering place. We played games like Colored Eggs (see previous post about that game) and Button, Button, Who Got the Button? as well as Hide and Seek, and Freeze Tag. In Hide and Seek, we counted by fives to a hundred. I always thought counting by ones was the easy way out. 

Moms would call their kids home to bed, and we often listened to the San Antonio Missions, minor league baseball's Texas league, on the radio. Jim Wiggins was the announcer. Their phenomenal shortstop Brooks Robinson played for them during this time. More about that in this blog post.

Later, we had bicycles and roller skates, and went roller skating downtown at the roller rink and to the movies. We rode the bus for a nickel and went to the movie for nine cents, so for a quarter you could get a Coke and popcorn and everything.

Jun 11, 2016

Animal Stories

Tippy (as we called Ring Tip) and the rabbits lived in the backyard. The backyard was fenced and the rabbits lived in coops or hutches. The fence went to the front of the house and was made of hogwire. It had big blocks in it where chicken wire is made of wire but has small hexagon shapes. A Mexican who walked back and forth in front of our house told us one time that Tippy could jump that fence if he wanted to. This probably deterred the amount of teasing Tippy got. He never went out the gate unless Mama called him.

One of the rabbits was named Wide-High. He was a New Zealand Red rabbit. That means he was brown with brown eyes. The New Zealand Whites had white fur and pink eyes. Daddy named Wide-High that because he was as wide as he was high. He had been the runt. Daddy usually didn't let us play with the bunnies because he said they were not strong like kittens and puppies to be played with. Bobby Joe got to play with Wide-High since he was the runt. He also had a cat. Mama didn't like cats but she brought the cat home and let it have kittens. The cat took all its babies and put them on Bobby Joe's bed. Mama thought that was cute.

One day, close to Easter, a lady from the Express News, one of the evening papers, came over at Aunt Oakie's request and took my picture with some bunnies. We took the picture in the neighbor's yard.

Adolf-She. One day Daddy took us to a coworker's to see his fox terrier. They said every family where they lived had an Adolf, so they named their dog Adolf. They wanted to get rid of the dog, so we took it. We named it Adolf-She because it was a girl.

May 25, 2016

Some Childhood Memories

Pin It             Some Childhood Memories                                                                  

The house where we lived was on the edge of a barrio. It was technically on a corner lot. The street in front was gravel. Every so often Mama and another mother down the street whose child had asthma would collect money from everyone on the street and have the road oiled. The side street was a dirt street and every time it rained Daddy had to use the Model A to pull people out of the mud. They insisted on going through the mud.

I was named after my Aunt Oakie, Daddy's sister whose official name was Hazel Oak Wood. Bobby Joe was named after Daddy's uncle, Joe Young. Daddy always called Bobby Joe "Joe" and me "Pat" because my feet went "pitty-pat" across the floor when I was little, and so everyone in the neighborhood called me "Patty." One family across the street changed it and called me "Betty."

In addition to collecting ladybugs, I collected horned toads. Daddy called them horny lizards, and he said as a small child I called them horny gizzards.

When we had fried chicken for dinner, I ate the gizzard and the legs. Grandma got the chicken wings, especially after her brother got married a second time late in life. He brought his wife to visit, and she and Grandma argued over the chicken wings. Grandma got them, so I thought grandmas always got the wings.

May 22, 2016

Goats in the backyard

Goats in the back yard, a roadster in the entryway, and trumpets in the bathtub

I was born in October of 1942 in San Antonio, Texas. This was one of the best places and times to grow up. A military town in post World War II times, we grew up calling it and thinking of it as "THE war." It was the war we knew. All the boys at school drew pictures of airplanes all the time and every girl drew and thought of pretty ladies and what they would become.  It was the very heart of our homes and our community. Our boys, our dads, our brothers.

Growing up, we went to Messiah Lutheran School until the sixth grade and then we went to Harlandale Junior High, which was two miles from our house. It was just me (Hazel Jane) and my little brother, Bobby Joe Wood. Mama took us to school or we rode the city bus for a nickel. If you rode the regular bus it took forever because you had to ride downtown before it would bring you home. One time I got detention for talking in class and it took forever till I finally got home.  

My daddy raised rabbits for meat and to show. They won a lot, and he and my Aunt Oakie were real involved in the rabbit club. We rented our house, and all the houses had a rent cap so our landlord rented us the house for one price and our lot (where we played baseball) for another price. Daddy accepted the house over the phone because he was afraid the house would be taken before he would get there. Houses were in short supply with everyone coming to town for the war. My uncle lived down the street and he told Daddy it was available. I spent hours looking for ladybugs on the sunflowers near our house. 

One time, we went to visit my Daddy's cousins in the Hill Country north of town and we brought home a goat. Those cousins raised angora goats for the wool and the meat. We went to visit Uncle Thomas and Uncle Malcolm and Aunt Elma. Daddy, Bobby Joe, Aunt Oakie, Mama, and I went. We spent the night and had a good barbecued goat supper with the folks, and the mule pulled us around in the cart .One of the baby goats was an orphan and the mama wouldn't take it, so we decided to take it home. Aunt Oakie thought it would be a good pet and Mama agreed, and Daddy didn't care one way or the other, so home it came. It lived in the backyard with the rabbits and our collie dog named Ring Tip. He had a ring around his neck and a white tip on his tail. The goat was the funniest little thing. It would get on the back porch and bounce up and down! It was funny until it got big enough to eat Mama's potted plants. Then it was decided that it would go in the deep freeze or go back to the country. Enough is enough. When we took it back, it lived with the cows. The goats never would take an orphan, even after it was bigger.