In December 1935 my Mom and Dad separated; Mom took me with her to live with her folks in Austin. I remember that I was particularly upset about my parents’ separation and ultimate divorce. From the first, I was determined to get them reconciled and back together. We stayed in Austin less than a year.
I went to Pease School in Austin for the spring semester of 1936. The first part of that summer I went to Camp Stewart at Hunt Texas. There were two individuals I remember well. One was Blair (Bruzzy) Reeves, who was my classmate years later at Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio. The other was a counselor by the name of Sammy Baugh. He was from TCU and known as “Slinging” Sammy Baugh, the football Quarterback super star.
My parents agreed that I would spend the summers with my dad and the rest of the year with my mother. That summer Mom put me on the train for Lubbock. The train went from San Antonio to Ft. Worth and then west to Lubbock. Dad met me at the train station, and I vividly remember a few things from that visit. One was the shock of going to our old house and the only furniture was a bed in my folks’ bedroom. Everything else was gone: no horse, no chickens, no homing pigeons, empty garage, no furniture and empty house. Wow!
Another remembrance was people’s attitudes. Back then, divorce carried a stigma and was considered a really bad thing. At first Dad took me to work with him, but after a day or two he left me at our old house, and I set out to visit my friends in the neighborhood. When I went to George Harold’s his mother said he was not at home. I then went down to the corner to Bennett Brown’s. His mother told me that he was not allowed to play with me. I went back to our yard and had a good cry. Fortunately, Dad and I left for San Angelo the next morning.
The rest of the summer went well, and I had a really good time bonding with Dad. Dad had a 1936 Ford coupe, and he showed me it would go almost a 100 miles an hour!! Pretty exciting for a 12 year old boy. Next he let me fire his 45 automatic pistol. He laughed when it kicked back almost over my shoulder when I fired it the first time, but I didn't drop it. We were shooting at a big sign and I am sure I didn’t even come close. We were sailing down the road one day and Dad quickly stopped the car and showed me a coyote up the rise on a railroad track. He had a 30-30 in a rack attached to the front of the front seat. He jacked a shell into it, took aim and shot the coyote. I was very impressed. I have both that pistol and that 30-30 in my possession.
Another time he opened the glove compartment one day and gave me a chew of Red Man chewing tobacco. I did not like that chew and spit it out. I did experience a lot of “man” things that summer. I liked fast cars and guns a lot, but I hated Red Man chews.
Dad and I had some great talks. He asked me a lot about Mom, how she was feeling and what she was doing, etc. He obviously had a lot of concern for her. It was sad because as soon as I got back home after spending the summer with Dad, she would quiz me at great length about how Dad was doing, how he felt, where he was staying, etc. Two hard headed people, each waiting for the other to break and apologize. What a tragedy and I was too young to know what to do. I did spend a lot of time stressing about it though.
Photo of Pease Elementary School found here.
Photo of 1936 Ford coupe found here.