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 a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.