Virginia Field Park Calvert, Texas
Saturday morning. A quick breakfast of Rice Krispies, a banana, and fresh squeezed orange juice, or, my favorite, Pablum. Maybe toast, biscuits, bacon, eggs, ham, french toast, doughnuts, or whatever Mama fixed that day. Playing with the cats for a little while, arranging my dolls on my bed, dressing in girls bluejeans or shorts, then draping myself over the chair with the nailheads around the edges, to listen to "Buster Brown", "Jack Armstrong" and "Sky King" on the radio.
I rolled my bike that Daddy had bought from Jane, and I painted with a 10 cent can of enamel from Fink's Variety Store, out from the garage out back and into the front yard. "I'm going to the library," I shouted over my shoulder as I rolled the bike down the little hill in our front yard to the street. I rode around the streets outside the park to avoid the sand in the road inside the park, and on to the little library that had once been a club house for women. It was just like it had always been, from my grandmother's day.
I looked through the books for what seemed like hours and picked out a stack of books to take home for the week. I probably would never read all those books, but I had good intentions. During the school year, I also had all those books from school, plus those I checked out of the school library, and books that I had of my own to read.
I loaded my books into the basket of my bike and thought of how I would curl up in a chair, in front of the stove in the living room, in winter, or by a window in hot weather and read so many books. And I would also buy some comic books and movie magazines from the drugstore to read. And, I would spread out on the floor to read the funny papers from the newspaper and magazines. A lot of reading, but I think I did more dreaming than actual reading.
I rode up the gentle hill toward home. I pedaled my bike up the street, avoiding gravel on the side, and between the two large white rocks at the entrance to the park. I pushed my bike over the hard walk up to the old fashioned bandstand and leaned it against the steps while I walked over to the birdbath/drinking fountain for a cold drink of water. I never was sure it it was a birdbath, although that's what it looked like to me. I guess we humans had to share it with the birds! It did have steps on the sides for short people to stand on, and a couple of metal drinking faucets, so it would seem to be for people to drink from. But it was concrete and curved to hold water, which would have served the birds, too.
I looked into the large structure to see if anybody was there to talk to and play with, yet. No one was there, so I got on my bike and pedaled out the east side over the walk, past the clay tennis court and the huge glider swing. I walked my bike carefully as I crossed the drive way that surrounded the park. Spots of sand made walking difficult and could turn a car that was going too fast, completely around.
I passed Edie's house and the empty lots between us, and pushed the bike up the hill to my house, and left the bike on the small front porch. With my books parked safely on top of the chest of drawers, I still had a long time before dinner when Daddy would come home from the store to eat. I could have read one of those books, I guess, but, no. This was Saturday. No school! Time for friends, relaxing, and a good shoot-em-up at the Eloia followed by a trip to Taliaferro's Drug Store for an ice cream cone or Coke and reading the latest movie magazines and funny books.
Mama was busy in the kitchen, and I walked back over to the park. This was a good place to be with friends. Not so much fun, alone. It was kind of big, spooky, and overwhelming, for a kid alone. No telling what might be there. A spider, a snake, a monster or a ghost! Not to mention those weird horney toads and the big red ants that had some good sized beds in certain places in the park. We never thought that there could be anyone lurking in the park who might harm us.
"Are you going to the show this afternoon?" I met a friend from school inside the bandstand. Light reflected off the blue gray floor as I sat down on a bench beside her.
"I don't know. Is anyone else going?" She asked.
"Probably so, but I haven't talked to anyone. Do you know what's on?"
"I don't know. It's in the paper that they send out at the post office."
"Yeah, I know that. But I just wondered."
" Think there'll be any cute boys there? Or will it just be the dumb old boys from school?"
" You know that all the cute boys are somewhere else!" I laughed.
"Let's save our money and go on the bus to the Chatmas, and to Waco!"
"Okay. Think we can go?" I asked, thinking of our shopping trips to other places, but always with adults.
"Sure! I do it all the time!"
It was hard to believe, but other kids, all of whom were older than I was, did take the bus and go to Hearne or Bryan or Waco, to shop, eat, and go to a movie.
"Well, I have to go home and wash my hair before I can go to the show," I said. "And Daddy is going to be home for dinner soon."
"I've got to wash my hair, too." She walked to the edge of the wooden floor and down the steps. "I'll see you later at the show. I don't think that Tim Holt is on today. It may even be Tarzan, or the Three Stooges. Or, I think I saw that they are going to have Whip Wilson one Saturday."
We both doubled up with laughter. "Whip Wilson!" (That's what we called one of our algebra teachers/coaches. He seemed to be quick on the draw with his paddle for misbehaving kids. )
"Just so it isn't Victor Mature. Kathryn said he looks like someone just threw a bucket of slop in his face, and he does!"
Daddy's little coupe chugged and clattered past the park and I ran home to eat dinner.
The park was a nice place to spend time with friends. The bandstand, with its sturdy enameled floor. was a good place to get out of the sun or weather, away from the eyes of grownups, where secrets, hopes, and dreams could be shared. Towering Crepe Myrtles all around the sides of the park and beds filled with flowers, assured some privacy from passing cars, as well as neighbors. A basketball hoop on one of the posts provided a place for the boys to practice before we had a gym, or for the kids to come and try their skill at playing basketball, if they could find a basketball. The floor made a good roller rink and a place to settle in and play games like jacks. Benches provided a place for an audience where we could practice acting, singing, and dancing, or they might become seats in an airplane, a boat, a train, or whatever object we could imagine. The sides of the bandstand made a good place to hide from pirates or the bad guys while we played with our toy guns. Some were even brave enough to venture a little way under the bandstand to play house, complete with mudpies.
Last weekend was another Saturday, many years later. My sister and I descended on the park, not with our cap pistols or toy dishes, or jacks, or bikes, but with folding chairs, sketchbooks, and pens and pencils, and a cold drink. She picked a spot in the bandstand overlooking the west entrance, while I went to the opposite side, picked a bench to settle on , and looked out toward the school and our old neighborhood, the merry-go-round, and one of the two remaining small pavillions on the norhtheast corner.
After beginning our day with a kolache and a visit with Jody at Zamykal Kolaches, we spent the morning in the park, sketching the place where we spent a lot of time playing, when we were growing up. It was a hot day, but the bandstand provided us with a lot of shade, and there was a little breeze to cool us off.
I worked in pencil on a watercolor pad, while my sister used her sketchbook and a pen. I had thoughts of, at some time, painting my drawing later. I also chose to take some photos of where we were working. All the while, I was thinking of the things that we used to do in the park, and how it is still so much the same. A real comfort as so many people love that park, and have over the years. Our great-grandfather came over from Prussia the year before the park and the town became official.
I thought of the friends we knew and the events that took place in the park and I missed the cold water in the fountain, the great Crepe Myrtles around the park, the baseball field where almost nightly summer ball games were held, (and, in between, we brought out our bats and balls and had games of our own), the children's swings, the big white glider and the bench made from a plank that had been placed between two oak trees, years ago, the clay tennis court, the road around the park, and my sister noticed that even the concrete ping pong table is gone. It's still a nice place with so much potential.
As we sketched, two young girls came into the bandstand to exercise and enjoy each other's company. They laughed, giggled, and talked softly, ran up and down the steps a few times, then drank bottled water. (I thought how handy the drinking fountain would have been for them! After all, people come from cities just to drink some of that good Calvert water!) They sat on the benches, talking softly and I thought of young girls sharing their time and their secrets, over many years, there in the park. Eventually, they asked if I was through sketching the merry-go-round, and, when I told them I was, they wandered over to the playground area where they took a few spins around on the merry-go-round. Returning to the bandstand, they sat on benches opposite each other, to talk.
"Aha! There's some pictures!" I thought. Kids talking on a Saturday in the park, playing on the merry-go-round, and the way that it used to be. Saturdays used to seem so long and we did so much, with no rush. I placed the girls in my sketch, looking at them, but used the photo above to finish the placement of things like posts and dividers. I added in the baseball field, concession stand, and the little road around the park in the background. I thought of styles of the past and gave my girls pigtails and a pony tail.
I couldn't help but wonder what they were talking about. Was it anything like the conversations that we had? How much have the thoughts and feelings of the young girls changed from my grandmother's day to now?
I do suspect that they were not talking about going to the Saturday afternoon picture show at the Eloia, since it is not operatong. And I do know that it was refreshing to see such nice, respectful young ladies. I don't know who they are, but it gave me a little scarey thought for a story. They walked away toward the cemetery across the street. Now there's an idea for a story. I think I have watched ghost programs with my daughter, too much!
I have more pictures that I took during our last Saturday sketch crawl to share, and some more sketches that I have been doing.
Speaking of Calvert, they are looking forward to the big Victorian Tea and Gala with a Street Fair Octobler 4. Jody Powers told me that they are still looking for vendors for the street fair. They have a lot of things lined up, but they need more vendors. So, if you like to sell your wares that can be considered Victorian , look at their website for more information, or contact Jody at Zamykal Kolache Shop in Calvert. If you make aprons, quilts, make jewelry, paint, demonstrate how to do something, have a civic group that would like to participate, or whatever it is that you do, get in touch with her. I have a link to her shop in my sidebar, or, you could just call her. There is also an online application. I do believe that they want everyone to dress in Victorian attire. It isn't require of people attending, but it is encouraged, if you would like to dress up.
Did you see "On The Road" on KBTX tv Thursday? If not, you can go to their website and take a look at the video. They reported on the news from Robertson County as part of their "On The Road" weekly series. They had to pack up early, though, because rain with thunder and lightning were coming. It was an interesting segment.
If you missed it, you can go to the KBTX website and, on the right, there is a place to click to see "On The Road" for the previous weeks. The segment on Robertson County, included quite a bit about Calvert. They don't have the whole program online, but do show Hammond House, Jody in costume showing fan ettiquette, and taught one of the anchors how to waltz, the old Calvert Hotel, the cemetery, and some of the stores downtown. I wish they would have left in the part where Jody is in her shop, talking and singing.
One thing that was not correct was that children have never lived in the Calvert Hotel. The Dirr family, who originally owned the hotel, had children and grandchildren living there. I practically lived there, myself when my cousins were at their grandmother's hotel. That made such a great place to play!
Another thing that I noticed was that the front of the buildings on Main Street were actually the back, by the railroad. They did load freight from the trains through there and had entrances at the back, but the fronts were where they are now, on Main Street. I have pictures from the early days, and there are the Sanford Fire Insurance Maps. Main Street once had cisterns and water wells in the middle, but the street was very wide allowing big wagons with teams to turn around easily. There was also another track that ran behind the buildings on the west side of the street, and freight was loaded from there. When I was young, there were still tracks visible in the street where little spurs were built on the side streets to busy stores . There were also tracks by the Fagan house. I was told those were trolley tracks. Calvert had a trolley while Dallas and Ft. Worth were not much more than an Army outpost.
Calvert was said to have been almost wiped out by the Yellow Fever Epidemic. About half the population died and left a population of 2,5oo, which is what it was still, all the years that I was growing up. They could never know how many died exactly because people were being buried day and night. I'm sure that they missed where some people were actually buried. But, they did make sure to bury people with the fever at an angle so that no one would ever try to dig them up and release whatever caused the epidemic into the atmosphere to make more people sick. They didn't know what caused it. Even doctors died. There probably is some record from the City Cemetery of most of the people in that one cemetery. But, apparently, records were not kept for some other burial places.
My great-grandfather had a "Chinaman" working for him in his cobbler shop. The man was among those who died. None of my family caught it, though. What a scarey time that was!
Tonight is the Scottish Invasion with events in Dallas Ft. Worth, and Houston, that I know of.
We lost another of our schoolmates this week. Linda was the prettiest little girl, and the prettiest and sweetest lady when she grew up! She worked so hard in her chosen career and was devoted to her family. It was so nice to talk to her and to have her fix my hair. I know that she is going to be greatly missed.
Here is a sketch of an angel for Linda. I tried it in watercolors, but I'm not happy with it. Wrong kind of paper, I think. I'll have to try it again.