Tales of Little Ruthie: The Silverware Fights

Front Page, Personal History

            Summers were difficult in our house.  Mother and Daddy worked every day.  Ola and Jeanie were married with their own kids, so that left the three of us at home.

            By the three of us, I mean Junior my brother who I thought was an idiot but later figured out that this wasn’t always true.  Sometimes he was smarter than me, if anybody can believe that.  I know I found it hard to believe when he would put one over on me.  The second of the three was Margie, my big sister.  She hardly ever got involved in the battles that went on between Junior and me.  All she was interested in was clothes and shoes.  She loved ribbons and bows, too.  She was a real girly, girl, if you know what I mean.  I, on the other hand, was kind of a tomboy type of girl.  I liked the outdoors and the creek, and I liked adventure.  I wanted to try new things.  The problem with that was I usually always wound up in trouble.

            My brother, the idiot, was always in charge, of course.  He was sixteen that summer.  Margie was twelve, and I was ten.  I was beginning to think that I would never get to be in charge of anything. Being the youngest in the family is hard.  I had to literally fight for my life at times.  They were all older and bigger than me, so I always get picked on.

            Margie always sided with Junior because she was afraid he would beat her up or tell Mother if she did something she shouldn’t have done.  This didn’t happen too often because she actually tried to be good.  She and I had fights now and then.  I beat her up, and then she left me alone for a while.  Sometimes she got the better of me though if Junior helped her.

            In the summer months, Mother would call us on her lunch hour to see how we were doing.  Of course, we told her we were fine.  My sister Ola would come by occasionally to check on us.  Sometimes she would take Margie and me with her to her house.  Once we got there, we knew why.  She wanted us to help her clean her house.  She was a terrible housekeeper.  At least that’s what my mother said.

            “If you girls help me clean my house, I will pay you,” she said.

            “How much will you pay us?”  I asked.

            “Well, how about a quarter?”

            I asked, “How about fifty cents each?”

            “Yeah, you’re house is really dirty, Ola,” Margie said.

            “All right, then. Fifty cents each.”

            “But you have to pay us now, before we start,” I said.

            “Why is that?”  asked Ola.

            “’Cause every time we clean your house, you never pay us.”

            “That’s not true.”

            “Yes, it is, and you know it’s true.”

            “Okay, then I will pay you right now.  You don’t even trust your own sister.”

            She went into the kitchen and handed us each fifty cents, and we put it in our pockets.  We worked nearly all day on her house.  What a mess!  Of course, we watched her kids while we were there, too.  She had three kids by then:  Larry, Bobby, and Randy.  There was only one year’s difference in Bobby and Randy. They were all cute little boys, and I rather liked taking care of them.  They were fun to play with.

            When we were all finished, she took us back home, but she didn’t stay long.  She said she needed a nap, and so did the kids.  I don’t know why she needed a nap because she sure didn’t do anything that I knew of.  The kids needed a nap though.  They all three looked sleepy.  Margie and I gave them all hugs and kisses, and off they went.  I couldn’t believe Ola actually paid us.

            When we got home, Junior was lying down on the couch sleeping.  The door slammed when we went in, and it woke him up.  That made him mad, and he began to yell at us.

            “What are you two doing now?” he screamed.

            “We just got home from Ola’s,” I said.

            “Well, be quiet,” he said.

            “We are being quiet, Junior.  Are you crazy?”  I said.  “Get up.  You are so lazy.  You never do any work.”

            “What I do is none of your business, brat.”

            That did it! He called me a bad name.  I jumped on top of him and started hitting him and, pulling his hair.  He was trying to get my hands loose from his hair, but he couldn’t.  I had a good grip on him.  He put his hand in my face and was trying to make me let go.  I got his finger in my mouth and bit down as hard as I could.  Boy, did he let out a yell then.  He finally was able to get me loose and threw me on the floor.  We were both mad, and what we did when we got this mad you won’t believe.

            “This is war,” I said.

            “Fine, let’s get the weapons!” he shouted.

            The weapons were the silverware.  We could use everything except the sharp knives. We went into the kitchen and dumped the silverware on the table.  We drew straws to see who picked first. Junior won the draw, so he got first pick.  We could not use the meat forks either.  Junior picked a fork for his first pick.  I picked a fork next, and Margie picked a fork.  When everything was off the table, we went back into the living room.

            There were two big platform rockers in the living room that we turned over for a fort.  One of us would get behind the couch.

            “Everyone needs to take cover.  The war is about to start!” said Junior.

            “No cheating.  You can only throw what you have now.  No going back to the kitchen,” I said.

            “We know the rules, brat.”

            I hated it when he called me that!

            Margie was behind the couch, and Junior and I were behind the rockers.  I know this was a crazy thing to do, but we were kids that were not supervised very well in the summer.  We would do just about anything.  I don’t think we really knew how bad we could have been hurt.  It was something to do, so we made a game of it.  We were all under cover, so it was time to begin.

            Junior threw first at me, of course, and after that, it was just all of us throwing whatever we could at whomever we could.  No one ever got hurt.  I can’t imagine why.  After we ran out of ammo, the game was over.  We would pick up all the silverware and put it back in the drawers.  Then we would clean up the living room and set the rockers back up.

            For some reason we were all in a better mood after we had a war.  I don’t know why.  We could actually be nice to each other.  Even Junior was better.  Sometimes he would ask us if we wanted to play catch in the front yard.  It was fun when he was nice to us.  I liked him when he was like that.  He would laugh and tease us.  We could even wrestle in the grass and not be mad.

            It had turned out to be a good afternoon in the life of little Ruthie.

Janice Sautter is a great great grandmother who spends her time writing, painting, drawing, and playing video games. She lives with her husband Jim and their two dogs, Daisy and Lilly. She writes under the name of J. R. Carter.
Please follow and like us:

Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 4

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Local history, Personal History

This article contains the final part of the memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, as told to her daughter, Rosanne Miller Redman in 2003. Addie Mae was the granddaughter of George Hugo Ritter, the man who settled Flour Bluff in 1890.  Addie Mae, who died  November 25, 2009, paints a personal picture of a time gone by in Flour Bluff and nearby areas in her memoirs.  It was her desire to leave the story of her life in early Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi to her descendants.   The rest of Addie Mae’s memories appear in earlier articles on this website.  

 

     Herbert and I were married on October 2, 1936, in the rectory of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  He was not a Catholic, so we couldn’t marry in the church.  Mama and Daddy were there, and Alice and Mickey stood up for us.  It was supposed to be a small affair with only Alice and Mickey there, but Mama had to be there, and she unknowingly invited a few other guests.  I always regretted not having the Millers there.  Mama also planned a small reception.  When Herbert got there, I thought he was going to leave me at the altar, but he didn’t.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Miller Orrell

 

     Alice and Mickey married in 1937 at the same place.  She was working at Weil Brothers and then became pregnant and had to quit.  I took over her job (which had been my job first).  Herbert and I lived in town for a short while until I finished working there.  We then moved to Flour Bluff so Herbert could fish.  We lived in a small house that used to be Ben and Opal’s.  They had lived in it for years until they built their house on Don Patricio Road.  When it became empty, I asked Grandma Ritter if I could have it, and she said yes (Remember, I was a favorite of hers).  That probably caused some strife in the Ritter clan.  Herbert had a job driving the school bus for Flour Bluff School District. He was the first driver for the school.  They furnished him with a small car, also.  That job and fishing kept food on the table.

 

     We spent our time playing bridge and dominoes and going to dances.  A lot of time was spent with Alice and Mickey.  I have many happy memories of those times.  They had started their family, and we enjoyed their children, Deana, Butch, and Cheryl, so much!  We were late in starting our family, so I guess they filled a void for us.

Photo courtesy of Butch Roper

     We always had good friends and lots of family around – Aunt Opal and Uncle Ben and their family, Aunt Alice and uncle Harry and their family, Cattie and Lewis and their family, and Annie.  Aunt Jo always had a special place in our hearts.  Then there was Velma and JW and their five kids.  They always came to Corpus in the summer, and we enjoyed going to the beach and having meals with them.  They were our big city relatives.  Melba and Jim Porter were always there to help us out when needed.  Herbert used to drop me, Kathy, and Karen off at their house on Saturdays for lunch.  Clyde and Howard were there also.  They were the fishermen of the family and kept us supplied with fresh fish.  We shared holiday meals with Alice and family and Melba, Jim, Clyde, and Howard.  We continued many traditions started by our own parents.  Thanksgiving was usually spent with Herbert’s family.  Christmas Eve was always spent with Alice and her family.  We exchanged gifts and at Mexican food and finger food.  A big turkey meal was served on Christmas Day with Herbert’s family again.

     My mother died in 1955 of liver problems.  I missed her terribly.  Life was not the same without her.  She only got to spend a short time with her grandchildren.  My father died in 1964 of a heart attack.  I also missed him terribly.

Myrtle Watson Ritter, right  (Picture courtesy of Kathy Miller Orrell)

     Our family was finally started with the birth of our first daughter, Mary Kathryn, on October 28, 1945, at Spohn Hospital.  (Miss Lena was gone.)  She was named for Grandma Ritter.  Karen Elizabeth – named for Grandma Miller – arrived on December 25, 1946.  We were having Christmas dinner at the Miller’s when I decided I hat to go to the hospital.  The doctor kept saying to me, “You are not going to have this baby on Christmas, are you?”  Well, I surprised him and the whole family!  Our family was complete with the birth of Rosanne Louise – named after Mama – on August 14, 1956.

    I suffered some ill health after Rosanne’s birth.  Kathy and Karen were only 10 and 9, but they had to help out a lot around the house.  I was always puny during those years, but I got better.

Miller family (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Miller Redman)

     Herbert stared working as a carpenter after being a bus driver.  We never had a lot of money, but we always managed to squeeze by.  We lived in the same house all those years.  Before I had the girls, I would work at Weil Brothers when they needed me.  I had to ride a bus to town.  As a carpenter, Herbert worked on building the Naval Air Station.  He also worked on the Harbor Bridge.  He continued with odd jobs until his retirement.  I started working at Flour Bluff Schools in 1962.  At first, I worked in the Primary Library and then moved to the curriculum building.  At some point, the curriculum building closed, and I was moved to the new Primary School until my retirement in 1982.

Herbert Miller, right (Photo courtesy of Kathy Miller Orrell)

     Herbert died on November 30, 1974, of lung cancer.  I would describe my relationship with him as stormy, but we did love each other, and I felt a great emptiness when he was gone.  The rest of my life has been spent enjoying retirement.  I got to travel because of Rosie; until then, I had never left the state of Texas.  I traveled to Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.  I made my first quilt while staying with her for the birth of Nathan.  I made many more quilts after that, and I am still making quilts to this day, although I have slowed down a bit.  With the impending birth of two great granddaughters, I just completed two more baby quilts.  I’m sure I am not done because there are more great grandchildren expected.

Addie Mae did the blocks when she was just 6 years old and then finished the quilt in 1980 when she began quilting again. (Photo and story about quilt courtesy of Rosanne Miller Redman)

     I lived in Flour Bluff for 80 years before moving in with Karen and Mike.  Since 1997, we have lived in New Braunfels, Seguin, and now Schertz.  I continue to share their home.  I am the last one left in my generation.  I have lost my parents and both my sister and brother. Aunt Opal and Melba are still with us, and I have a few cousins left.  I do enjoy getting together with them and talking about old times.  I wanted to share my stories with all of you in hopes our family legacy will continue.  It is good to know where you come from.  I pray that my parents can look down upon all of you and see what a wonderful family they helped create.  They would be proud!

 

Kathy married Kenneth Nelson, and they had one daughter, Kimberly Janean.  Kenny was killed in 1973, and Kathy then married Douglas Orrell.  They have one son, Eric Douglas.  Kim married Troy Perkins, and they have two children, Kathryn Victoria and Collin Andrew.

Karen married Michael Mosel, and they have two children, Michael Kreg and Kelly Marie.  Michael married Cindy Jones.  They are expecting a daughter in January. Kelly married Robert Talavera.

Rosanne married Michael Redman, and they have three children, Jennifer Michelle, Stephanie Nicole, and Nathan William.  Jennifer married Michael Robertson, and they have one son, Michael Grady, and are expecting a daughter in December.  Stephanie married David Flowers.

The family tree continues to grow….

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Junior’s Shotgun

Personal History

            I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine why my daddy would buy my brother a gun.  But, he did.  Junior was not a hunter, so that was not the reason.  He gave it to him for Christmas when he was about sixteen.  It was a shotgun.  I did not know what kind it was then, but later I learned it was a sixteen gauge.  I do remember he was very happy that Christmas when he got the gun.  My Mother was not happy.

            “Why in the world would you buy him a gun, Elmer?” she asked my daddy.

            “He is old enough to have a gun.”

            “But, what does he need it for?”

            “I wanted to get it for him, Ellen.”

            “That’s not a very good reason.”

            They argued for days about the gun.  My mother was always the boss around our house, so I figured Junior would not get to keep the gun.  I think Daddy wanted to do something for Junior that was just between the two of them.  They were never very close because of my Mother.  She always told Junior what he could and could not do.

            I think my daddy wanted a relationship with his son, but my mother prevented that for some reason. As I said before, he was never punished for acting up.  He could do anything and get away with it.  More than once, Daddy was going to spank him when he did something wrong, but she would not allow it.

            She treated Junior like royalty, and I never knew why.  If there was anything he wanted, she tried to get it for him.  But, the gun was something he wanted, and Daddy got it for him. I believe that was the whole thing.  If she had bought it for him, it would have been all right.  I could be wrong though, but I don’t think so.

            Mother was insisting that Daddy return the gun, but he would not give in to her on this one.

            “I want you to take that gun back, Elmer.”

            “I am not taking the gun back, Ellen.”

            “He doesn’t need a gun.”

            “You might as well hush.  I’m not taking it back.”

            “Somebody could get hurt with that thing.”

            “Nobody will get hurt.  It’s locked up.”

            On and on they went.  For days, they argued about the gun.  I was getting real tired of hearing it.  My daddy was not a person who liked to argue.  When she would start talking about it, he would just go outside.  Mother would not give up though, and Daddy would not give in to her.

            Daddy was in the back yard one day, and I went out to talk to him.  Sometimes we would just sit and talk while Daddy drank his Progress beer.

            “Maybe she would stop arguing with you if you took the gun back, Daddy.”

            “No, Ruthie, I can’t do that.”

            “Why not?”

            “Because I will not let her win this one.”

            “Is it worth all this, Daddy?”

            “Yes, it is, Ruthie.  I wanted to do something for my son.”

            “Is that why?”

            “Yes, it is Ruthie.  Junior and me are not very close.”

            “And you think the gun will change that, Daddy?”

            “I don’t know, but I am hoping it will.”

            “I hope you’re right.  Junior is pretty spoiled.”

            “Yeah, he is.  Your mother is easy on him.”

            “I wish she was easy on me.”
“So do I, little girl.  So do I.”

            Things kind of quieted down for a while.  The gun was locked up most of the time, so I guess it was out of sight, out of mind.  I know my mother though.  Once she has her mind set on something, it is hard to change it.  Maybe that is where I got it.  I am the same way.  When I had something on my mind, I was going to do it or die trying.

            However, this was different.  Or, at least I thought it was.  This was my daddy trying to do something for his son, his only son.  I felt so bad for him.  He wanted to be friends with Junior so bad.  Why couldn’t my mother see that?

            One day when Mother and Daddy were at work, I walked into the bedroom, and Junior was sitting on the bed with the gun in his hands.

            “What are you doing, Junior?’

            “Just messing with my gun.”

            “I thought it was locked up unless Daddy was here.”

            “I know where the key is, and it’s my gun.”

            “I know it is, but you might get in trouble for having it out when Daddy is not home.”

            “No, I won’t get in trouble. I think I will try to load it by myself.”

            “That’s not a good idea.”

            “How would you know, brat?”

            He had a box of shells sitting on the bed, and he opened the gun to put a shell in it.  I moved away to the other side of the room.  I was scared that he didn’t know how to load it.  He put the shell in and closed the gun.

             I was just about to say, “Take your finger off the trigger,” but it was too late.

            The noise it made almost deafened me when it went off.  Thank God, he had pointed the gun at the ceiling!  Paint, plaster, and wood chips covered the bed, the floor, and us.  Junior looked scared to death.  He dropped the gun on the floor.  Margie came running into the room.

            “What was that?” she asked.

            “The gun went off by accident.”  I said.

            We all looked up at the ceiling at the same time.  There was a big hole there.  I don’t know how bad it was, but it did not look good.

            “I didn’t mean to do it,” Junior said.

            “I know you didn’t,” I said.

            “Will you tell Mother and Daddy what happened, Ruthie?  It was an accident.”

            “I will, Junior, but I think you better lock the gun up.”
He picked the gun up off the floor, put it in the cabinet, and put the lock on it.  He still had such a scared look on his face.  I was scared, too.  My ears were still ringing from the shot.  This was really a mess!

            “I think we better clean this room up before Mother and Daddy get home from work.”

            “Not me.  I didn’t do anything,” Margie said.

            “I’ll help you, Junior.  I gotta get the broom.”

            I went to get the broom, and I told him to shake the covers on the bed to get all the pieces of the ceiling off them.

            “I got the broom and the dust pan,” I said.

            “I shook all the stuff off the beds.  It is just all over the floor now.”

            “No, it’s on the dresser top and the chest of drawers, too.  I’ll go get a rag to dust it off.”

            Junior was sweeping when I came back.  Margie was doing nothing, just watching us work.  I started dusting, and that’s when I knew just how much dust was on everything.  It was a mess.  We cleaned almost all afternoon until it looked like Mother had cleaned it.  Well, maybe not that good, but it looked pretty good.

            There was only one problem left, the big hole in the ceiling.  There was nothing we could do about that.  We couldn’t hide it anyway.  We had to tell them.  It’s not like we could hide a hole in the ceiling from our parents.  Junior was going to have to tell them.  He fired the gun, so I thought he was mostly to blame.  I just stood there and watched him.

            “You have to tell them, Junior.”

            “Yeah, I know.  I will.  You didn’t do anything, Ruthie.  You just helped me clean it up.”

            “I’m sorry, Junior.  I don’t want you to be in trouble.”

            “That’s okay; I’m not a kid anymore.  I can take it.”
“She never spanks you anyway.  She will just yell at you.”

            “I’m probably gonna lose my gun now.  I feel bad after Dad fought her for me to keep it.”

            “Well, maybe not.  Just wait and see.”

            Our parents got home at the regular time.  Mother got there first, and Daddy came in just a few minutes later.  I didn’t say a word, but Margie the little snitch ran in the kitchen and said, “Guess what?  Junior shot a hole in the bedroom ceiling with his gun.”

            “It was an accident.  He didn’t mean to,” I said.

            “It’s alright, Ruthie.  I had to tell them anyhow.”

            “What has been going on here?”  Mother asked.

            “I was messing around with my gun, and it went off and put a hole in the ceiling.  I’m sorry, Dad.  It was just an accident.”

            They both went in the bedroom to look at the ceiling.  They were just standing there looking up when my mother just went crazy.  She began to scream at Daddy for buying the gun.  Then she was screaming at Junior because he could have killed one of us.  I had never seen her so mad.

            “I knew this would happen, Elmer.  He could have shot himself or Ruthie.”

            ‘Not Margie.  She wasn’t in here.  She just told on us,” I said.

            “Ruthie didn’t do anything.  She just happened to be in here,” Junior said.

            “Well, he didn’t shoot anybody.  Thank God.  I can fix the ceiling,” Daddy said.

            He was trying to get her off the subject of the gun by saying he would fix the ceiling.  I knew my daddy.  He was smart.  But, it didn’t work this time.

            “That gun is leaving this house,” Mother said.

            “Now, Ellen,” he started to say.

            “Don’t you ‘Now, Ellen’ me.  One of these kids could be hurt or dead right now.”

            “Okay, the gun will go.  I’ll try to sell it.”
Junior didn’t say anything.  I think he was glad the gun was going because it had caused a lot of arguments.  I think he knew what she said was true.  One of us could have been shot that day.

            “It’s okay, Dad.  I took the gun out, and I shouldn’t have.  Don’t feel bad about selling it.”

            The next day, Daddy did sell the gun to a guy he worked with.  He gave Junior the money out of the gun because it was his gun.  Mother got mad about that.  She didn’t think Junior should get the money because of what he did, but Daddy gave it to him anyhow.

            Junior and Daddy became a little bit closer after all that happened.  I was happy about that.  I was really mad at Margie for sticking her nose in where it wasn’t needed.  I told her I was going to beat her up for what she did to Junior.  I didn’t do it, but I sure wanted to.  I knew I would get a spanking if I did.  She was always like that when we were growing up.  I don’t know why.  I never told on anybody just to get them in trouble like she did.

            But, she was Mother’s favorite. She was frail and sickly my mother would regularly remind us.  I didn’t believe that for a minute.  She was just a little snot nosed, spoiled brat.  Well, this is another story in the life of little Ruthie, and believe it or not, I am still alive.

Janice Sautter is a great great grandmother who spends her time writing, painting, drawing, and playing video games. She lives with her husband Jim and their two dogs, Daisy and Lilly. She writes under the name of J. R. Carter.
Please follow and like us:

FBBA Honors Eddie Savoy with Spotlight Award

Business, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history, Personal History
Eddie Savoy receives FBBA Spotlight Award on August 9, 2017

 

     Jennifer Welp, Flour Bluff Business Association President, presented Eddie Savoy, owner of Savoy Homes, the Keep It in the Bluff Spotlight Award at the regular FBBA meeting held August 9, 2017, at noon in the Raceway Cafe’ at Funtrackers in Flour Bluff.  Savoy has been a member of the association since 1968.  The FBBA has been in existence since 1951.

     Savoy’s family moved to Flour Bluff in 1927 and settled on a 2-acre tract of land on Laguna Shores.  It was on this property that Savoy built his first development in 1968.  Starting out at Corpus Christi Shell Company and working off and on as a tugboat captain since 1958 when he wasn’t building, Savoy went on to grow his business by providing housing for a community that has shown steady growth since the coming of NAS Corpus Christi in 1940.  In 1969, Savoy built the first zoned mobile home subdivision in Corpus Christi on the north side of Flour Bluff. In 1971, he built Padre Palms RV Park at the end of Skipper Lane near the what was then known as the Boat Hole Marina.  He went back to work on the tugs while his wife Leona ran the RV park.  Savoy continued working offshore until 1983 when OPEC deliveries to Egypt slowed down, and he returned home.  It was at this time that he decided to build stilt houses on three lots just down the street from the RV park. These were the first of many.

     In between working on the tugs, building houses, and developing subdivisions, Savoy stayed involved in the Flour Bluff community.  He served twelve years on the Flour Bluff School Board, was an active member of the FBBA, and was even a member of the Flour Bluff Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as president.  Savoy said he left the volunteers after he responded to a fire on Yorktown where he had to dodge bullets.  “The owner was a gun collector,” said Savoy, “and his ammunition kept going off.  That ended my firefighter career.” Savoy laughed and said, “I guess you can say I went out with a bang!”

     Savoy is often found at the Ethel Eyerly Senior Center in Flour Bluff where he continues to serve his community.  When asked if he had considered retirement, he said, “I tried once for a couple of years, but I had to get back to it.” It turns out that he is still building elevated homes and just recently finished two, one on Knickerbocker and another on Laguna Shores Road.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 3

Flour Bluff, History, Local history, Personal History

This article contains the third part of the memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, as told to her daughter, Rosanne Miller Redman in 2003. Addie Mae was the granddaughter of George Hugo Ritter, the man who settled Flour Bluff in 1890.  Addie Mae, who died  November 25, 2009, paints a personal picture of a time gone by in Flour Bluff and nearby areas in her memoirs.  It was her desire to leave the story of her life in early Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi to her descendants.   The rest of Addie Mae’s memories will appear in later articles.

     For fun, the grownup would have dances at their homes.  All of the furniture in the living room would be moved, and we would all dance. We danced to music played on the phonograph.  Later on, we would all meet at the schoolhouse for dances.  There would be a small band playing–with a guitar and violin.  It was so much fun!  The last few weddings in the family have reminded me of those days–everyone, especially the children, dancing and having a good time.

     Mama and Daddy also play dominoes (Forty-two) a lot.  Their closest friends and neighbors, the Robertsons, were usually partners.  They rented a farm next to us on the bay, and then we all moved to Flour Bluff.  uncle Ben married a Robertson, our Aunt Opal.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell

     I attended school in Flour Bluff until I was 12 years old.  I like school and did very well.  We either walked to school or rode with the Roberson kids in an old jalopy.  I don’t have many memories of school except that I continued to love reading.  The farm in Flour Bluff had a row of chinaberry trees.  I’d pick one and be lost for the day.

     Incarnate Word Academy was located in downtown Corpus.  I went to town to attend IWA until I graduated in 1933 at the age of 14!  I boarded there.  Aunt Jo was a novice and a teacher there.  The first year I lived with a friend of Mama’s, Mrs. McAllister.  She lived about 10 blocks away from the school.  It was called Ms. Mac’s house.  I went home on the weekends.  I’m sure I was homesick.  The second year I lived at the convent.  The third floor was our dormitory.  There was one big room, and each boarder had a bed with a curtain around it and a stand for personal items.  Our clothes were kept separately.  I had two special friends from Kingsville–Bernice and Laura.

 

     We didn’t go to church on a regular basis when I was growing up.  Alice and I were seven and nine when we made our First Communion. We were baptized right before that.  Grandma Ritter planned the whole thing.  Uncle Ben would take us to town for instructions.  There was one church downtown for whites, St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Sacred Heart was the Mexican church, and there was another for the colored people. Grandma had a niece, Daisy, who lived in town and had a rooming house.  On Saturday night, Grandma would take me and Alice to Cousin Daisy’s to spend the night.  We would all go to confession and then get up on Sunday morning and go to church.  We only did this occasionally since it was too far too hard to get there.  That was the basis for my religious beliefs today.

Photo from Diocese of Corpus Christi website, ca. 1924

     We celebrated birthdays at home with a cake and a little family party.  Christmas was always a big deal though.  We would go out in the brush a day or two before Christmas and cut our tree; it was a Sweet Bay tree because they stayed green in the winter.  It was decorated with ornaments and tinsel.  Small candle holders were clipped on the tree branches to hold the candles to light the tree.  That must have been dangerous.  We opened our presents on Christmas Eve.  Mama and Daddy always saw to it that we had nice presents.  On Christmas Day, we would have duck and stuffing.  Mama would bake for days and make lots of goodies for the holidays.  We always had dinner with relatives, either at their house or ours.

     I learned to sew when I was 4 years old and have been at it ever since.   I made a cap for my baby brother; I can’t imagine what it must have looked like.  Mama was a good teacher, and she instilled in me a love for sewing.  I have made many, many things over the years.  After my retirement, I took up quilting and have enjoyed many years of doing that.

Don Patricio Causeway Bait Stand, 1935 (Photo courtesy of Kathy Orrell)

     After graduating high school, I stayed in town and boarded with Alice and Mary Roper.  I worked at Weil Brothers as a bookkeeper. We had a small apartment.  Alice was attending IWA at that time.  I worked to pay her $5 monthly tuition.  My total salary was about $16.  Mary was a beauty operator.  I also tried that occupation, but it wasn’t that lucrative.  We lived in town for a few years and then moved home. I started working at a bait stand on the Causeway in Flour Bluff where I met a handsome man named Herbert Miller.  He was quite a bit older that me, but I became very interested in him.  He was a fisherman along with his brothers, Clyde and Howard.  At some point, I had boarded with the Millers while working at Weil Brothers.

Weil Brothers Grocery Corpus Christi Caller advertisement, March 24, 1920

Related stories: Read Part 1.

Read Part 2.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

A Visitor Named Celia

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history, Personal History
Celia Track
National Weather Service Map

In the summer of 1970, Marcella Campbell McEnulty Slough faced Celia, a horrific and most unwelcome visitor and the last major hurricane to make landfall on the middle Texas Coast. This is Marcella’s story – in her own words – of how she, her husband Ira, and their four children (Loretta, Terry, Jackie, and Joe) fared in the days leading up to and following Celia’s arrival.  She wrote this story and mailed it to all of her family and friends who wanted to know how everyone was doing after the storm. Mrs. Slough has lived in Flour Bluff since January 1969.

     On Friday, July 31, 1970, we were informed, via our friendly TV weatherman, that tropical depression #4 was 220 miles SSE of Cuba.  At that time, we hardly gave it any notice.  Saturday’s noon news announced it had intensified into a tropical storm.  We spent a normal Saturday with everyone going about their normal duties, and by the 10 p.m. news, she was a full-fledged hurricane named Celia with winds of 115 MPH, heading NNW towards the northern Texas Coast.  We were all saying, “It will never come our way.”  You know — it always happens to someone else, right?

     Ira had the duty at the Naval Hospital Pharmacy Sunday, so he took the car at 7:30 a.m. and went to work. We’d been to the Sunday obligation Mass on Saturday evening, so the rest of us slept late. Sunday was spent as any other except we pulled out our hurricane map and began to track the storm with a new position given every 2 hours on TV. Loretta worked on a rock picture in her room; Joe went next door to play pool with a friend, Terry and Jackie were busy trying to find out how to get registered with the Flour Bluff Recreation Center, while I spent the afternoon and evening trying to get caught up with correspondence. Channel 3 put out a hurricane watch Sunday afternoon, and we were told if Celia continued its present course, it would it the northern coast of Texas, and we would be on the backside of some of the wind and rain, so it was advisable to pick up all the loose items outside. I called Ira, and we agreed that it should be done right away.  Joe brought the trash barrels, tether ball pole, hoses, and anything else he could find loose into the garage. The youngest girls turned in at 9 p.m. with visions of a bowling trip, tour of the Navy Base, and a trip to the San Antonio Zoo with the Recreation Group on their minds. Loretta had a babysitting job until 10:30, and Joe and I watched the late movie.

Photo courtesy of Marcella Slough

     At 1 a.m. Monday, August 3rd, TV 3 announced a change in direction to WNW of our infamous lady “Celia” putting us under a hurricane warning and that they would continue to be on the air 24 hours a day for the next couple of days.  Little did they know that they would be off the air in 14 hours.  Ira was still on duty, so Loretta, Joe, and I watched the late show #2, #3, and #4, and by 7 a.m. we were all sure Celia was going to pay us an unwelcome visit.  We all began to busy ourselves taking care of the items on our hurricane check list.  Every jar, pitcher, water jug, container, and even the bathtub were filled with water because of the fear of water pollution.  We got out our portable radios and checked all the batteries and then made sure each of us had a working flashlight.  Loretta found all our candles, candle holders, and finally the Christ Candle.  We then took a short break and lit the Christ Candle with each of us asking God in our own way for help, courage, and safety.  Then we got back to our check list with Joe going to the end of the street to get a bucket of sand to use in case of fire.  Mr. Robertson, a neighbor, took out a few boards of our back fence to keep it from blowing down.  Ira got off work at noon and stopped to buy non-perishable food and ice and will the car tank with gasoline.  He brought home masking tape and taped our windows, and we opened the ones on the south side of the house to keep our house from becoming a vacuum.  These were all checkpoints on our list.

     Ira, Robbie, and Mr. VanPelt talked, and we all decided to ride out the storm in our homes while several of our neighbors had already packed and left for San Antonio.  The wind and rain began about 1?30 p.m. from the north.  Loretta put a plastic bag over our movie camera and took some pictures of our blowing palm tree.  By 2: 15 the aluminum stripping around my flower beds was beginning to pull out at the ends and wave around in the air like a snake, so Ira ran out and pulled it into the garage and secured the garage doors.  By 3 p.m. hurricane force winds were clocked at the Naval Air Station. Jackie Harlin called Loretta (he lives behind us), and she told him we were sending him our fence via the North Wind, and he said, “I’ll send it back later by way of the South Wind.” Our phone then went out.

     We all went from room to room checking on windows, etc.  Water began to pour in around all the windows and the front door.  We used all our towels, blankets, throw rugs, and bedspreads to try to soak it up before it got to our furniture.  As the wind at our house began to shift towards the west, it intensified, and we heard on the radio that it was clocked at the airport as sustained 120 MPH winds with gusts every 15 seconds as high as 161 MPH.  One of our storm rules was to listen to our radios or TV for advisories on safety precautions.  As the wind came around to the WSW at 3:40 p.m., we lost all electrical power, and so did all the radio, TV stations, and even police radios.  We were virtually cut off from any kind of communication.  Believe me, we were scared!  Then we saw our fence blow down and pieces of trees, wood, and our neighbors fiberglass green house go flying around the neighborhood. We tried to find any kind of radio station, and finally KINE from Kingsville, Tx., came through with Citizen Band operators from Corpus Christi telling them the furor that was happening everywhere.  This was one hurricane that touched everyone in some way — some only slightly and some losing all they had.

(Radio report from Eddie Truesdell, formerly of KSIX radio in Corpus Christi, TX.

     Corpus Christi had been prepared for a hurricane like Beulah or Carla had been, but Celia was quite unpredictable.  By 7 p.m. the winds had begun to die down here, and even though it was still raining, we all went outside to see the damage.  Two of our neighbors’ roofs were laying in their yards, so all got busy to mop up the water in their homes.  As our local newspaper wrote later, “A spirit of neighborly cooperation draped the city like Christmas tinsel.”  When darkness fell, and I do mean darkness, with no electricity in our entire city and no cars on the streets because of the curfew, we all knelt once more around our Christ Candle, which was our only light, and said prayers of thanks because we were all alive.  Then miraculously the phone rang, and it was my mother.  With so many lines down and long distance lines tied up everywhere — she had gotten through and it was so good to be able to tell someone we were all fine.  Finally, being completely exhausted, we all slept.

     Tuesday morning was a bright sunny one — but also hot and muggy.  We hardly had any water pressure.  There was no water pollution, but we were only getting a trickle of water so we used the water in the pitchers.  We still had no phone or electricity and still only KINE on the radio. Gasoline pumps run on electricity, so there weren’t any gas stations open.We were glad our car tank was full. Ira went to work. Everyone in the block was busy hanging out wet towels, blankets, rugs, putting out wet mattresses, and cleaning up debris. We cleaned out the girls’ room and put their rug on the driveway to dry.  The mosquitoes were out in full force. We were told by radio that it could be 2 weeks before we got electrical power, and I began to wish for a kerosene lamp and a good, old-fashioned wash board.

     Ira got off early, and we took a ride to see some of the damage and take a few pictures.  We passed 2 trailer courts where only one or two looked livable.  Mobile homes were upside down, and some had just exploded from pressure.  If I’d had any doubt about the destruction of Celia, one look at the new housing at the Naval Air Station stopped it.  Three hundred families were left homeless as over half of the $6 million development was demolished, and the rest was heavily damaged.  I said a small prayer of thanks once more that we hadn’t gotten base housing.  Every neighborhood from Flour Bluff to Calallen had shattered buildings, broken or uprooted trees, tall palms that were just snapped off, homes without roofs from small frame houses to $100,000 homes on the Bay Front.  The downtown streets, as the newspaper put it, looked as if there had been a snow storm from broken and shattered glass everywhere, sailboats and fishing boats were piled on top of each other, and our beautiful city in a shambles.  Even with all this destruction, there was an air of humor as people put up handwritten signs such as “Open House”, “Rummage Sale”, and one woman tacked a “Garage Sale” sign on her garage door — there was no house.  Also, there were flags flying from anything homeowners could fasten them to, which was very heartwarming.  Curfew was 7:30 p.m., so we came home, ate leftovers from our barely cool refrigerator, and turned in to try to sleep in a very hot, damp, and humid house.

Trailer park in Flour Bluff after Celia, photo by Marcella Slough
New housing on NAS after Celia, photo by Marcella Slough

     We arose Wednesday morning to find we had water pressure, and until then, we didn’t realize how great it was to take a long leisure shower. Other small things that we take for granted, such as an ice cube, were becoming quite important. KRYS was now broadcasting with a gasoline powered generator, and as soon as ice was brought into the city and the location was announced, hundreds of people were lined up to get a small block.  Comments were made that this was more like a war disaster than a hurricane. TV 3 was back on the air, but no one had any electrical power to watch.  No one really seemed to miss TV — the soap operas, cartoons, etc.– we had our ears tuned to radio listening to all announcements about how our town was being put back together.  We were advised to empty our refrigerators of all frozen food, so Loretta took our meat next door and cooked it, and what we couldn’t save we threw away. It seemed such a shame, but everyone around here had the same problem we had.  Families were eating better than they had in months as steaks and roasts were used up. Barbecue pits were fired up as several families in one block got together to share what they had.

     Thursday was spent very much like the day before.  Ira pulled duty, so being alone we got in one of those neighborhood get-togethers that seemed to be happening all over the city.  If you look long enough, you can find something good can come from a hurricane, such as bringing people together.  There just never seems time to get friendly with neighbors as long as there is TV and an air-conditioned house.

     Friday, August 7th, we regained our electricity.  We were very lucky because as I write this story (This is August 15th), some 40% of the city is still without power or phones.  The girls got their room back to normal pace, but as citizens of Corpus Christi, the Sparkling City by the Sea, it will be a long time before we see our city sparkle.  If Celia thought she had destroyed our city completely, she had forgotten one element — people.  Corpus Christi will be all right — it has people.

Marcella, Ira, and family

P.S.  I want to sincerely thank everyone who called to express their concern about us…those calls were really appreciated.  We were so cut off from the outside, and hearing a familiar voice certainly showed us that we were in a lot of people’s thoughts.  Thanks again!!!

 

From the editor:  This personal account reveals the heart and spirit of human beings, especially when they are under extreme circumstances.Through this telling, we are told how to prepare, how to treat one another, and how to make the best of a bad situation.  For those too young to remember or who did not live through Celia, the video below about the days following Celia’s visit will give credence to Mrs. Slough’s story.

This video was made by Central Power and Light, now AEP, after Celia came to visit.

The Hugo Ritter family who lived along Laguna Shores in 1919 rescued a boy who washed up during the 1919 storm.  Sadly, the boy died before he could give his name or his place of origin.  The following YouTube video posted by Ronald Jorgenson tells similar stories about another hurricane that devastated Corpus Christi.  You will recognize some much younger but familiar faces.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Why Flour Bluff?

Business, Flour Bluff, Local history, Personal History

“What brought you to Flour Bluff in the first place?” I asked Price Anderson.  His answer – which really involved his partner – surprised and intrigued me.  Below is the rest of the story surrounding the proposed RV park on Caribbean and the reason that Kris Hawkins and Price Anderson chose Flour Bluff in the first place over 13 years ago.  (All photos courtesy of Kris Hawkins)

To Whom It May Concern:

     My name is Kris Hawkins, and I am the developer of Bluff’s Landing Resort & Marina.  I am also working on a new project at the end of Caribbean Drive that has stirred up some valid concerns in the neighborhood.  Although I do not live in Flour Bluff, I wanted to share some of the backstory about Bluff’s Landing with you.

     My dad, Wally Hawkins, started taking me to Red’s Fishing Camp in Flour Bluff when I was five years old.  We would wade out into the water with cane pools and catch the famous Laguna Madre trout.  My dad was simply continuing a tradition he grew up with.  His parents, who farmed a small 30-acre tract outside of San Antonio, would bring him and his nine brothers and sisters every year to fish out of that same spot!

     My brother and I continued to fish at Red’s Fishing camp every year with my dad for 10 years until he received a foreign program grant from Texas A&M (his alma mater) to move to the Dominican Republic to start a small agricultural school on behalf of the United States.

    After we moved overseas, I lost track of the area until years later when I returned to the site with Spence Collins who had begun the process of acquiring some of the neighboring land.  After a year or so, I took my Dad to the site to show him the project I had been working on.  It wasn’t until then that he recognized the site as the old home of Red’s Fishing Camp.   He was visibly shaken by how the place had deteriorated.  As we drove around the area, and he saw all the trash, open drug dealing, and run-down shanties, he couldn’t believe how much one of his favorite places ever had turned into a dangerous den of drugs and thieves.

     We went back to the hotel and talked about the project, and my memories of fishing came flooding back as I realized that this dilapidated bay was the same place my dad and I had learned to fish in our childhood.

     It was from that point forward I made it one of my life goals to clean up a small portion of the Texas coast and preserve the place for future generations to enjoy the same way my dad and brother did.  I wanted to restore the land so that my son and his sons could re-live the experiences of my memories.  I am now proud to say Bluff’s Landing is the realization of that goal.  I believe the facility is improved each year, I know it has attracted thousands of new visitors to Flour Bluff and generated over a million dollars in tax revenue.

BEFORE PHOTOS

Photo: Future Bait Shop Site

 

 

Photo: Bait Shop & Trash  

                               

 

Photo: Future Hotel Site

 

 

 

CURRENT PHOTOS

Photo: Bluff’s Landing Resort Hotel

Photo: Bluff’s Landing Resort Marina

     Now that is a long explanation of a project that is already in existence, but I only explain all this to show that we are not outsiders looking to make a quick buck.  We have been investing time and money in Flour Bluff for 15 years and continue to do so.  My goal is to create places where families can enjoy themselves while also contributing to the local community.  This is something we also have done in Austin, Texas, if you ever get the chance to visit Graceland Grocery / Graceland Oaks Event Center on Hwy 290W.

     That is our same goal with the Luxury RV Park at the end of Caribbean Drive.  We want to build a high-end facility for families and their recreational vehicles.

Gulf Waters RV Resort

     I know there are concerns that the project will be more of a trailer park or will deteriorate over time, but I assure you that is NOT the case.  We have hired Urban Engineering to design the facility for two reasons.  First, they have an excellent reputation in the community and second they designed Gulf Water RV Resort in Port Aransas.  The Gulf Waters project is exactly the style we are going to achieve.  We are putting in a pool, irrigated landscaping, and will strictly limit who and what can come to the facility.  For example, no vehicles over 10 years old, no soft sided RVs or tents, and no renting out to tenants.

     If we fail to maintain the facility in the same or better condition than when it is built we will not be able to recover our investment.   We are committing millions of dollars to guarantee the facility stays nice and benefits the community.  The best example of how we do this is Bluff’s Landing Resort.  If you have any concerns that we will allow the project to fall apart, please go see what we have done over the last 13 years just down the road.

Kris

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 2

Flour Bluff, Front Page, Local history, Personal History

Addie Mae Ritter Miller, ca. 2003

This article contains the second part of the memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, as told to her daughter, Rosanne Miller Redman in 2003. Addie Mae was the granddaughter of George Hugo Ritter, the man who settled Flour Bluff in 1890.  Addie Mae, who died  November 25, 2009, paints a personal picture of a time gone by in Flour Bluff and nearby areas in her memoirs.  It was her desire to leave the story of her life in early Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi to her descendants.   The rest of Addie Mae’s memories will appear in later articles.

     Mama was a housewife.  In those days, women didn’t work outside of the home much.  She worked hard though.  She canned produce for family use, raised chickens, collected eggs, made all of our clothes on a pedal machine, did all of the wash by hand, and cooked three meals a day – all of the things farm wives did in those days.  We had no running water and relied on a cistern that collected rainwater for our use.When that was low, Daddy had to drive to town to get water.  Can you imagine going to town to get water?  I can remember Daddy killing a chicken on Sunday morning and Mama having to pluck, clean and cook it.  I am sure you can’t imagine doing that either!

Myrtle Watson Ritter, right

     Mama was a good cook and spent long hours baking pies, cookies, and cakes for Sunday dinner.  Aunt Kate and Uncle Hugo were regular guests on Sundays.  They were close to my parents (Uncle Hugo was Daddy’s brother).  I loved playing with my cousins, Annie, Cattie (they were twins), Joe, and Benny. They moved to Clarkwood, and we would visit them often.  I still enjoy getting together with Cattie and Annie when I go to Corpus to visit.  I grew up with many cousins and have a lot of fond memories of them.

Russell Watson, Jr., Addie Ritter, Annie Ritter, Cattie Ritter

     One of my most vivid memories of the house on the bay was when Junior was two years old.  We didn’t have electricity and got our light from kerosene lamps.  One time Junior pulled down the scarf with the lamp on it, and the lamp fell and hit him in the face.  He had cuts and glass all over his face and was bleeding badly.  Mama sent me to get Daddy.  I can still remember running as fast as I could across the field to get him.  We took him to the doctor in town, and he fixed Junior up, but he still had a piece of glass near his eye that always bothered him.

     Another vivid memory I have is of our ghost in the house in Flour Bluff.  Some of you know this story.  We lived in an old two story house that originally belonged to the Ritters.  One room opened into the attic, and we thought a ghost lived there.  We all shared a room at the top of the stairs.  Junior and Alice slept in a double bed, and I slept on a cot by the window.  Alice said that something always stood in the doorway at night.  Of course, I didn’t believe her!  Well, one night we had a storm, and I woke up.  There in the doorway was a white figure. It moved and kind of vanished into the white railing of the staircase.  I ran and jumped into bed with Alice and Junior!  We were then too scared to sleep in that room, so Mama and Daddy moved us downstairs near them.  We didn’t see the ghost anymore, but every night at supper time, we could hear what sounded like someone walking up and down the stairs.  They knew we were scared and always made joke about it, but I guess they didn’t really have an explanation for the noise.  The Grims later moved into that house and heard the same unexplained noise.

     I attended one year of school at Aberdeen and then went to Flour Bluff.  We were getting ready to move back to Flour Bluff when I was seven. Since school was starting before we moved, I was sent to live with the Ritters.  I love it there.  I was the first granddaughter of 27 grandchildren and was treated very special.  This was also very memorable for me.  Most of my aunts still lived there – Aunt Katie, Aunt Alice, Aunt Jo, and also Uncle Ben.  Aunt Katie was a teacher, and another teacher boarded there, also.  I had the best time because I love being around the grown ups.  Uncle Ben was a young man and would tell me about his dates.  I thought I was really somebody.  It was only for a month, but I had a great time and still remember it to this day.

Eric Ritter, Junior Ritter, Alice Ritter, Addie Ritter at Duncan place on the Oso

     Daddy was a farmer, and a very good one in those days.  He farmed cotton on the bay and then moved to Flour Bluff to farm cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelons, tomatoes, etc.  He had a good reputation in town.  He would load up his produce and go to town to sell to the stores there.  When his grandchildren were older, he would take them along with him.  I am sure that was a treat to get to ride with him in the truck to deliver produce.

Related stories:

“Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, Part 1”

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller: Part 1

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History, Personal History
Addie Mae Ritter Miller, c. 2003

This article contains the first part of the memoirs of Addie Mae Ritter Miller, as told to her daughter, Rosanne Miller Redman in 2003.   Addie Mae was the granddaughter of George Hugo Ritter, the man who settled Flour Bluff in 1890.  Addie Mae, who died  November 25, 2009, paints a personal picture of a time gone by in Flour Bluff and nearby areas in her memoirs.  It was her desire to leave the story of her life in early Flour Bluff and Corpus Christi to her descendants.   The rest of Addie Mae’s memories will appear in later articles. (All pictures were provided by the family of Addie Mae Ritter Miller.)

     On November 13, 1917, I was born to Myrtle Mae Louise Watson and Eric George Ritter.  My birthplace was Brighton, Texas, which was the lower part of Flour Bluff at that time.  Our doctor was one of the few in Corpus who owned a car.  He drove out to Brighton and spent the night.  The Ritter family had a practical nurse who came and stayed with the women when they gave birth.  She was an old German lady and would stay with the family for two weeks.  In those days the mother had to stay in bed for two weeks before resuming her duties.  The nurse, Miss Lena, was there along with the doctor.  I remember the story told to me about my birth.  Miss Lena kept waking the doctor up and saying, “Come on, Doctor, it’s twins!”  Of course, that wasn’t true.

     My only sister, Alice Lena (named after Miss Lena), was born on October 12, 1919, during the 1919 Storm.  Mama and Daddy started to town along with me.  I don’t know if they knew a storm was coming or not.  They had an old truck.  I guess Mama was having trouble, so they stopped at a stranger’s house and called for the doctor.  He came along with Miss Lena and delivered Alice.  We had to stay in that house for two weeks!  I think the house still stands somewhere around Six Points, which was the edge of Corpus at that time.

     My only brother, Eric, Jr., was born on February 21, 1921, at home.  The same doctor delivered all three of us.  I remember when Junior was born.  Alice and I didn’t know we were even expecting a baby. Daddy took us to Grandma Ritter’s and left us there for several days. When he came for us, Alice and I were making mud pies (I don’t know how I remember this).  We were having fun and didn’t want to leave. But, when he told us we had a new baby brother waiting at home, we went right away.  Since Junior was the only boy, I always thought he got special attention!

     We moved from our house in Brighton before Junior was born.  The storm of 1919 dumped a lot of salt on the land in Brighton, so we moved to a house on what is now Ocean Drive.  The land was called the Black Land and was good for farming.  Daddy raised cotton there.  He was a sharecropper and farmed where the land was fertile.  The house was on the bay.  We would occasionally swim in the bay, which was fun.  Alice and I were always good friends.  We spent a lot of time outdoors, but my favorite pastime was reading.  I would find a good tree, climb it, and read and read books.  When my cousins would come to visit, they usually played with Alice and Junior, and I read.  I was very curious about the world and interested in everything the grown up would talk about, so I would try and listen when we had visitors.  Once, Daddy took me to a political rally in Corpus.  That was a highlight for me.

     Mama’s family, the Watsons, moved to Florence, Texas, when I was a little girl.  We would go visit them every summer.  That was always fun. It was a long drive, and we would stay about a month!  When they would come visit us at our house on Ocean Drive, we would always have a fish fry on the bay. Daddy and the other men would cast a net into the bay and catch mullet.  Then they would clean it and fry it right there on the beach.  That was a lot of work for the grown ups, but lots of fun for the kids.  We also had fish fries with our other relatives.  We spent a lot of time with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends.  There wasn’t much else to do in those days.  It sure made for lots of fun memories.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
Please follow and like us:

Tales of Little Ruthie: The Pig Roundup and a Lot More

Front Page, Personal History

     Uncle Steve lived in a place called Price’s Falls.  It is near Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains just south of Davis, Oklahoma.  Steve is Mother’s brother.  Mother took Margie and me there to visit for a few days one summer.  Daddy’s sister was there with her two kids, Kathryn and David.  We were double cousins with them because Mother’s brother, Joe, was married to my daddy’s sister, Cecil.  This is what made us double cousins.

     I was about nine years old, but it was the first time I had met them.  I just remember that David was really a mean kid.  Kathryn, who was in her teens, was older and nicer.  When I first heard we were double cousins, I didn’t know what it meant.  Did it mean I got two cousins instead of one?  I sure didn’t want two of David.  One was too many for me.  I was already thinking hard about what I could do to get him back for the things I was sure he would do to Margie and me.

     Uncle Steve’s wife, Helen, and my mother fixed our breakfast.  We had eggs and sausage, not oatmeal.  What a treat!  It was Saturday and market day, which meant the pigs my Uncle Steve raised would be sold that day.  There was a whole bunch of them in a big pigpen.  I was looking forward to that.  I had never herded pigs before.  All of us kids put our old clothes on because the pigpen was a mess.  We had to get the job done early so he could get them to the sale barn in Davis.

     Margie, David, and I had to herd the pigs into the truck.  My uncle watched to make sure we did it right.  We went down to the pigpen and climbed over the fence.  The pigs were bigger than I thought.  I was a little bit scared.  We all just stood there looking at the huge pigs.

     Uncle Steve said, “Let’s get going!  Get them pigs on the move!”

     I took one step, and I was in mud up to my knees!

     David whined, “I don’t want to do this.”

     Margie looked terrified, so I said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll help you.”

     I just took off running as fast as I could in that mud, waving my arms at the pigs.  It scared them so they began to run all over the place.  I was yelling at David and Margie to help me, to cut them off so they would have to go through the chute and into the truck.  I could see this job was going to be harder than I thought.  I was not going to quit though.  The three of us were running and yelling, and the pigs were running and squealing.  We got about ten in the truck, but there were still at least twenty more.  Because we had fallen several times during the chase, mud and pig poop covered us!  After a while, we actually started having fun.  We were laughing, running, and falling down, and the pigs were running from us.

     I looked over at my uncle; he had a big grin on his face.  Then I saw my mother and aunt watching us and laughing so hard they were about to cry.  It took a good hour to get the rest of the pigs in the truck, but we did it.  We were really proud of ourselves.  What a mess we were with mud and pig poop all over us!  We went to the house, and my aunt turned the water hose on us.  Mother brought us out some soap and towels, and we washed our hair.

     Before long, we were cleaned up pretty well.  Uncle Steve was in the truck getting ready to leave for the sale barn.  He stopped, got out of the truck, and came over to us.  He gave us two dollars each for helping him.  We thanked him for the money, but the pride we felt for working so hard was better than the money.  We were all scared to death of those pigs when we first got in the pen with them, but somehow we managed to get it done.  Since Uncle Steve paid us for helping, we must have done a good job.  At that point, the day was good.  I just didn’t know what was in store for me later that day from David.

     David was the cousin from hell.  He was always hitting me or pulling my hair or something just to be mean.  He left Margie alone most of the time, but I guess he just didn’t like me.  I can tell you the feeling was mutual.  He was the only boy I knew who was meaner to me than my brother.  We all three went for a hike later.  The whole time we were gone he was smacking me and twisting my arm behind my back.  I finally had enough, and I picked up a rock and threw it at him.  It hit him in the back.  I took off running from him, and  I almost stepped on a big snake that slithered into my path.  Now, I am really scared of snakes, and I screamed!

     I had seen a snake like that one at Granny’s house.  It was a blue racer.  Granny said they would chase a person until they caught him just so they could bite him!  I know now that is not true, but, at that time, I just knew what Granny had told me.  Well, needless to say, I didn’t waste any time getting the heck out of there.  We were not far from the house, and I was running as fast as I could.  All the while, David was right behind me, yelling that the snake was about to catch me.  I was too scared to look back, so I just kept running as fast as my legs would go.

     Then the most terrible thing happened.  I fell down!  I just knew the snake was going to get me and bite me.  Then I heard David laughing and laughing.

     He said, “You big dope, that snake is not chasing you.”

     My sister was even laughing!  David ran up behind me, grabbed my arm, and twisted it up behind my back.  I was so mad!  He fooled me and made me cry.  I was kicking him and trying to get away, but he just held on tight to my arm.  He walked me all the way back to the house like that until we got to the backyard where Mother was hanging up clothes.  He let me go then so he wouldn’t get in trouble.

     We went into the house to have lunch.  My mother and aunt fixed us bologna sandwiches and glasses of cold milk.  It was good.  After I ate, I went into the backyard.  I was sitting on the porch just looking around the yard.  I saw what looked like a storm cellar, so I went to see it.  I didn’t want to go inside.  I was scared of cellars.  I was standing up at the top of the dirt steps looking in trying to see as much as I could when I felt someone push me from behind.  Down those stairs I went!  The next thing I knew, I was on the floor of the cellar.  I looked up the dirt steps, and there was David.  He started to close the door!  I tried to get up to run up the steps, but he was too fast.  I could hear him laughing and saying he was going to lock me in there.  He sounded like the devil himself.

     It was so dark I could not see my hand in front of my face.  I knew what was in there though.  I had been in dirt cellars.  They had spiders, bugs, and worms.  I could just feel them crawling on me!  I was screaming bloody murder for someone to get me out.  It was so dark.  I got up on the steps as close to the door as I could.  There was a little bit of light, and I could see through the door.  I was begging David to let me out. I told him I couldn’t breathe, that I was dying.  Little did I know that he had gone into the house.  I started to push on the door to open it, but it was so heavy I couldn’t budge it.

     I prayed to God to save me.  I cried and cried.  Then I pushed on the door some more, but I had no luck.  It was just too heavy.  I began yelling for my mother.  She didn’t hear me though.  I promised God if He would get me out of there and save my life, I would be good from then on.  It seemed like I had been in there for such a long time.

     I pounded on the wooden door and yelled, “Please, Mother, get me out of here!  I don’t want to die in this dark cellar!”

     Then- thanks to God – the door opened, and there was my mother.  She asked me how I got locked in there.  I was crying so hard I could hardly talk.  I had been so scared.  She put her arms around me, hugged me, and she wiped my tears and the dirt off my face with her apron. She had come  out to get the clothes off the line, and she heard me screaming and crying.

     I looked at her and said, “David locked me in here on purpose, Mother.  He is so mean.”

     She got this angry look on her face and just said, “It will be all right.  I will talk to his mother.”

     We went into the house, and my mother told my Aunt Cecil she needed to talk to her in the bedroom.  David was sitting there, and from the look on his face, I knew he was scared.

     They came out of the bedroom, and my aunt said, “David, I need to talk to you in here.”

     He got up and went into the bedroom.  In just a couple of minutes, I heard a sound that I knew so well myself.  It was a belt, and Aunt Cecil was really giving it to him.  I was so happy to be out of the cellar that I forgot to count how many licks he got.  Darn it!

     David didn’t come out of the bedroom until supper time.  Uncle Steve was back from the sale barn and had sold all his pigs.  We had a real good supper.  We had ham, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and hot biscuits.  Every time I took a bite of ham, I thought about chasing those pigs that day.

     Before we went home the next morning, Aunt Cecil made David apologize to me for what he did.  I had fun while we were there, but I never wanted to see my double cousin again.  The day at my uncle’s pig farm was more than a typical day in the life of little Ruthie.  I thank God for getting me out of that cellar!

Janice Sautter is a great great grandmother who spends her time writing, painting, drawing, and playing video games. She lives with her husband Jim and their two dogs, Daisy and Lilly. She writes under the name of J. R. Carter.
Please follow and like us: