The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Every once in a while a picture will come to my mind. Almost vivid scenes of how things looked back in the 1930s. I can just see how they used to hitch the horses around an old hackberry tree over behind the Woodman Hall, near the Steele property.
That old tree has been gone for years. Right here on my property there are hackberry trees growing along the fence row. I’m sure these same trees are offspring of that big old hackberry tree that stood just behind the Woodman Hall.
Most everyone got up early in the morning; a lot earlier compared to what they do now. There were some early risers back in the 1930s that got up way before everyone else. They got up around 4 or 4:30 in the morning.
Bruce and Allye Steele EdmondsMy mother always got up around 4 o’clock in the morning. I got in the habit of getting up with her. Mother would point out the other early risers to me. She’d say, “I believe Gus and Boozie Krause are up.” Boozie is what she called Mrs. Wardie Krause. They lived right down the street from us and Mother could see when their light would come on in the early mornings.
Mr. Rufus Knight got up early in the morning to open his filling station. We could see his station from our house. Mr. Rufus Knight’s filling station was right there across from the bank. The station was up against his daddy’s big old store. The station was angled out toward the street and toward the barber shop.
The Coan family had a store here. I don’t remember Mr. Coan. Seems like he was a postmaster. I do remember Mrs. Coan and her daughter, Effie. Effie had a little girl who was two or three years younger than me. They called her Tootsie.
I-Bo and Cora Harris bought Mrs. Coan’s little house. The Coans also owned the big house near the bluff but sold it to John Hall. Mrs. Coan’s father, Dr. Usher, built the house.
Saturday evenings and Saturday nights were big times on the Island. All the activities started about 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon after people got paid.
Old juke boxes were playing. People were laughing and carrying on. I didn’t miss much. I was raised right here behind the little stores and I stayed on the streets in evenings and days on the weekends and during the summer time.
Buddy and I would spend all of Saturday evening and Saturday night up town. My mother would let me stay up there because she knew Jim; he was Grandma Steele’s first cousin. She knew he would look out for me and Buddy.
During the summer I would go over to the pressing shop and stay with Johnny Saulsberry and sit around there during the day.
In the early 1930s before I started to school, I didn’t have to cross the street to go to Uncle Wes’ store or Emmett Chisum’s store. I just walked through Grandma Steele’s yard. My mother would let me go up there as long as I didn’t cross the street.
I'd spend hours sitting in the store with Big Emmett Chisum. He would talk to me just like I was an older person, an adult. A grown person doesn't realize how much that means to a child. I always felt close to Big Emmett. He was my double 3rd cousin.
|Thomas Jefferson Chisum|
I saw Big Emmett’s daddy, Uncle Tom Chisum in that store. I remember the first time I saw him, Big Emmett and I were sitting in the back of the store by a potbellied heater. Uncle Tom came in and sat down with us. He got his little snapper purse out, gave me a nickel and told me to go get us some penders.
I didn’t know what a pender was. Big Emmett told me they were parched peanuts. I don’t remember which store sold the penders but it must have been a store on the same side of the street as Big Emmett’s store because I wouldn’t cross the road.
I came back with a little brown bag of peanuts. Uncle Tom had me hold out my hands and showed me how to cup my hands. He shook some peanuts out of that sack into my hands and the three of us sat there and ate roasted peanuts.
Uncle Tom Chisum was my Grandpa Steele’s uncle. They died the same day in December of 1934. Uncle Tom moved to Sicily Island from Texas sometime around 1880. About 8 years later, Grandpa Steele followed him here to work for him.
Isham Alfonso "Al" SteeleGrandpa Steele left Texas when he was only 18 years old and rode a horse all the way to Sicily Island. The trip took him 6 weeks. He spent the rest of his life on the Island.
Some years later, two of Uncle Tom’s children died a day apart. His oldest son, Big Walling died in May of 1955. All the family was up at Big Walling’s house. Uncle Tom’s daughter, Cousin Eva was up there, too.
I remember hearing my mother and daddy saying that Cousin Eva shouldn’t have been out because she didn’t look well. She died the next morning.
I’ve heard the old folks talk about all the people who once lived in on the Island. Some died here and others died after moving away from here. I’ve heard some of the names called but I can’t remember them.
There were many people who lived here and are now gone and forgotten. There’s nobody left to remember them. So at least, in making these tapes the names will be called and anybody listening to them will know who lived here in the village in the 1930s.
Note: Parts 1-31 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.