Sunday, January 10, 2010

A New Year-A New Decade

New Years Day at Toot's
8.5 " x 11"
I don't know anyone who really celebrated New Years Day in Calvert, when I was growing up. A lot of people did eat their black eyed peas and cornbread and watch a football game or two on tv
but that didn't seem like a big celebration, to me. I just tried to avoid anyone who was eating vegetables that day and just hung around the house.
Most people went to bed after the news, or, perhaps stayed up to watch Dick Clark or listen to the famous orchestra playing "Auld Lang Syne" when we got tv. But, then it was off to sleep. There was no champagne toasts or revelry. Someone on the outskirts of town might set off firecrackers and start dogs in town barking. And, the Briggs went outside at midnight and rang the large old school bell that was in their yard. After that, we knew that it was the new year, and fell back to a deep sleep.
The only person I knew who seemed to really work at having a traditional New Years Day was Toot. She and Honey lived across the street from us, and I spent a lot of time there-practically a second home.
Honey got up every morning, except Sunday, at 4 a.m. and drove to Waco for fresh produce for his grocery store in Calvert. And Toot got up before him, to have a nice breakfast ready for him.
On New Years Day, I guess he must have still gone to the store because he wasn't there, just like any other week day.
After the breakfast dishes were done, Toot set about cooking her special New Years dinner (the noon meal in Texas). Black eyed peas were bubbling on the stove, and cornbread was in the oven. Toot didn't eat very much because she had had part of her stomach removed when she was middle aged, and, I think, she wanted to stay trim and attractive for Honey. There might be left-over Sunday roast, sometimes turned into hash, and bread pudding. And, of course, a glass of water and a cup of coffee from the percolator.
As the parades started on tv, Toot would go into the hall closet and get out one of her card tables. She took that into the everyday sitting room, or den, and set it up in the middle of the room, near the tv.
She put a bridge cloth on the table, added napkins, and brought out every day china, silverware, and glassware from the kitchen. She put the chair from the Secretary on one side of the table, and a small chair from beside a window opposite it. As she carefully set the little table, she watched the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl Parades.
She really looked forward to the Rose Bowl Parade, especially. She made her trips out of the room really fast so she wouldn't miss any of the parades. She loved flowers and worked really hard in her yard. She was impressed with the use of flowers in the parade and seemed to dwell on every blossom and seed.
At dinner time, Honey came home and dutifully ate, silently, at the card table, while Toot was intent on watching the parade.
Dinner over and dishes done, Toot put away the card table and took a short nap. Dress came off and she slept in her slip on a quilt on the floor where the card table had been.
When I was there, I went in and out, hoping to go be with my friends. But, Toot would bring out the stool from the dressing table in the guest bedroom, "for the kids", and place it at the card table. There was a second stool, in case my little sister came over, or if any other company would show up.
Sometimes Irvin or Daddy would drop by and have a taste of dessert.
Toot would spend the afternoon with callers who might drop by, or reading magazines, or darning socks.
For supper, there was left overs and tv, with Honey going to bed early.
For me, I was just looking forward, anxiously, to the next day-my birthday!
In the drawing above, I started by drawing the room in pencil, then I went over it with Micron and Pitt pens. Then I added Toot, so you can see a line through her ! Later, I used Winsor Newton watercolors to add a little color. I think I like it better in pen!
This is in a Reflexions 8.5" x 11" sketch book.
I tried to show the corner of the every day sitting room, the den, where the tv was located. The candy jar with peppermint candy is on top of the set. Above the set is the little shelf that Toot had made into the wall where she put an electric clock and a few knick knacks.
The room was basically done in browns.
The wide window on the east side showed the shrubs and lawn beyond the porch, the empty lot and street, just in front of the school. You can see the gym, parking lot , and north end of the school. The window on the south side showed an empty field that filled with Indian Paintbrushes in the spring-until some people bought the lots and built homes there in more recent years. You can see the house where the Nash family lived on the corner on the next street, and the house where Doris Johnson lived next to it. The roof of the Lange house is just beyond the trees.
Mud Creek Mountains are the trees that rise on the horizon. Weekly, we could see smoke from the trash being burned at the garbage dump at the edge of town, just over the trees.
Toot's house was rather interesting. Her father had it built just behind his house on Railroad Street as a wedding present when she married in 1913. It was a prefab house, built by Sears. He completely furnished the house for the newlyweds, except for the kitchen. He insisted that the couple have all their meals with him!
There were 3 large cotton gins downtown, that put out a great deal of lint, etc. during ginning time. The stuff floated everywhere and filled almost every window screen in town. People had to frequently hose or sweep down the screens and, the closer you were to town, the more often the screens, and everything else, had to be cleaned. It wasn't as bad toward the school, far away from the gin, but, the closer you were to town, the worse it was. I guess that the wind direction didn't help, either.
Toot suffered terribly with sinus trouble. The doctor even prescribed "medicated" cigarettes for her, but nothing worked. He finally unpacked her sinuses that were filled with cotton lint.
In 1939, her father died. Honey bought lots near the school, and their cottage was moved in 1940, on logs, pulled by oxen, to the new location in front of the school.
Toot still suffered from sinus trouble and allergies, as a lot of people did, but, at least, they were further away from the cotton gins.
The house still stands, although changed somewhat from when Toot lived there. She is probably not very happy that her beloved flowers and magnolia trees are all gone.
It was a special place.


V....Vaughan said...

Cecilia...You are creating a treasure of a time gone by in Texas. Keep up the good work: blogging about a special time in Texas!. ....the stories are excellent, the "lessons" in your art are great, and the added info about the house really sums up the story.

Robin Cheers said...

Your stories are so vivid. I love reading about the old days. I miss having grandparents to hear these kinds of tales from. More people need to read and understand the histories of our families, communities and country. Thanks for sharing!