Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lloyd Samuel Childress

For extra credit in a college history class, I interviewed all four of my grandparents.  The next few posts will be from the information they gave me and the papers I wrote in 1975.  I can't tell you how glad I am that I did this.  When I presented these papers to my grandparents, their own children had never heard some of the following information.  I want to pass this on to my children and grandchildren...and all of those Childress out there.

Lloyd Samuel Childress was born May 1, 1906 to Belle and Draton Childress at Eastland, Texas.  After he was born, his parents moved to Wellington, Texas where he lived until he was about sixteen years old.  Then they moved about fifteen miles northwest of Wheeler.  He lived there until he married Clara.

John Draton & Mary Susan Maybell Childress 
with children Lloyd (baby) & Clarence (front).

Lloyd's family was another poor farm family.  From about the age of six, he knew the meaning of the words "hard work."  His dad also grew corn, cotton, and maize.  He and his four brothers and three sisters helped his dad each year to plow the ground, plant the crops, and later, to harvest the crops.  That was back before the day of tractors and so much of it was done by hand and with the aid of horses.  He never started school before January because there was still cotton bolls to pick and work came before education.  His family raised their own food--cows, pigs and chickens--and cured it.  His mother and three sisters always canned vegetables that they had grown and canned and preserved fruits from their own trees or from that of neighbor's.  He and his brothers took every opportunity they could to hunt and sometimes sneaked off from their regular work to do it.  And they always brought back enough quail, prairie chickens, or rabbit for the family to eat.  They went fishing about as much as they hunted, including the sneaking off time, and most of the time brought back enough for a meal.

During his infrequent spare time, he enjoyed such games as baseball, blackman scatter, and hide-and-seek.  The indoor games that he played were monopoly, dominoes, and cards.  One of the favorite party games was snap.  Their parents didn't allow them to dance, but they could play ring games.  These were played by everyone standing in a ring and singing.  Then steps were added as they moved.  This game could be compared to modern-day square dancing--but they couldn't dance.  Most of the inside games they played, though, were table games because they were crowded for space in a three or four room house.  On holidays, several families got together and went to the creek and fished and swam.  This was an all day affair, beginning at early morning and lasting until it was dark.  They would all travel down to the creek in horse and wagon, carrying big pails filled with food for the occasion.  These all day picnics were highlights of the summer.

Social gatherings usually took place on Sunday afternoons.  After church one family would usually invite another over for the noon meal.  After the meal, the boys would usually head outside to play and the girls would stay in to do the dishes and they they too would go play.  The men sat around smoking cheap cigars and talked "farm talk" while the ladies would sit and gossip and sew.  Other special occasions were weddings and baptisms.  Most people were married in their homes while some were married in churches, at the courthouse by the justice of the peace, or at the preacher's house.  Relatives that lived close by usually gathered together for this celebration.  The whole church also gathered during the time of  baptisms.  They took place in farmer's stock tanks, creeks or in the few churches that had baptisteries.  

Lloyd Childress met Clara Towry in Wheeler at a neighborhood party.  They were introduced by a cousin of Lloyd's and instead of it being love at first sight, it was a fight at first sight.  But soon they were dating.  They went to social gatherings together and went with a group to parties.  Then on September 5, 1926, they were married at Canadian, Texas by Judge Frank McMordie.

My personal memories of my grandfather:
We grandchildren (33 of us) called our grandfather "Papa."  And because I also called my paternal grandfather "Papa," I referred to Lloyd as Papa Childress.  By the time I was a young child, Papa was a big man.  He usually wore striped overalls unless he went to a funeral or a wedding--to which he wore a suit.  He actually looked stuffed in that suit.  I've never seen him look more uncomfortable than that--he was certainly out of his element.  And usually when he was at home in his overalls, one strap was usually hanging unfastened.  Papa had the clearest, bluest eyes I've ever seen.  They were almost a grey-blue...and were mesmerizing.  

I was just a little bit afraid of my Papa.  He was a big man, had a big voice, and a very loud snore.  I remember sitting at the lunch table with him, Granny & my family when I was about 8-10 years old.  I'm sure Papa was in a "stare" and was thinking.  But I thought he was staring at me.  I burst into tears and everyone asked what was wrong!  I said, "Papa's staring at me!"  To which everyone burst out laughing.  I still wasn't so sure but what he might have been mad at me or something.  Part of what contributed to that, I'm sure, is that he always asked the grandsons to go with him when he went anywhere.  Granddaughters were for Granny to deal with.  I was always jealous until my brothers later told me that they'd have to sit for hours at the gas station while he jawed with the old men of the community.  But when he came to visit us at our house, before he left, he'd always ask, "Who's going home with me?"  Usually my older brother, Bob, or I would pack an overnight bag and go home with him.  I'd just as easily regret my decision to go as soon as we pulled out of the driveway because I'd get homesick--even for an overnight stay.

Papa was still bailing hay when I was growing up.  And he owned land which had a pond on it.  We'd often go out to his land as a family and have picnics or a fish fry.  We'd swim in the pond unless one of us spotted a water moccasin.  We'd also pick blackberries or plums there during the summer.

Papa loved to pick at his grandkids.  He'd make bets on football games with them as they got older...or bets on just about anything!  And at Christmas, he'd always give each of us grandkids a silver dollar (which I still have).  My aunts would usually make us kiss Papa on the cheek to get the silver dollar...which was probably the only physical affection we ever showed one another.  Papa was convinced a man never truly went to the moon.  He thought it all happened on some Hollywood set.  He had very strong opinions about that...and many other things.  If you spent the night with Granny & Papa, you knew you were going to get up early.  And if you didn't?  Papa would come in with a cold glass of water and threaten to throw it on you.  It was no joke...if you didn't get up, you got a cold glass of water.  Granny would try to keep him from doing it, but he loved doing it.  I'm pretty sure Granny hung bedding on the clothesline to dry lots and lots of times.  I accused my granddad one time of not knowing my middle name.  Because he had so many grandchildren, I was sure he didn't have a clue--and that I was just one of many.  He looked me right in the eye and said, "Becky Darlene."  Well done, Papa!  I was impressed.

Papa was definitely the patriarch of the family.  He was very much "in charge" and made the decisions.  Granny certainly had her say, but Papa ruled the roost.  I have many fun memories of Papa.

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