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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.