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The Ozarks Christmas Dinner 1966 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Grandma DeLong and Uncle Richard’s House

The Ozarks

Christmas Dinner

1966

GRANDMA DELONGS BUTTER MOLD

 

Grandma DeLong’s Butter Mold

Grandma Martha Lou Marcum DeLong taught me “How To Milk A Cow,”when I was five years old. No fancy milking machine. I used my thumb and finger on the cow’s udder. Most of the stream of the milk went on me and not in the bucket. I knew I would never be a dairy farmer. Grandma used the milk to churn butter. Once the butter was churned, she used this butter mold to imprint a design into the cake of butter. She used “Clabber Girl” baking powder to make her biscuits from scratch. Once you added the butter to the fresh biscuits out of the old wood cook stove, “It was good eatin’ ! Every breakfast was like a Christmas Day Breakfast !” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

christmas-tree-logo-photo-two-thumbnail_thumb[1]Home is where I kick my shoes off and feel, “This is where I belong.”

 

In childhood, I felt at home in the big, white clapboard house in Houston. It had an extremely narrow driveway that ended at the garage in the backyard. The property was surrounded by a cyclone fence.

 

In Missouri, home was always Grandma and Uncle Richard’s house. You turned off the state highway and rose up a wide gravel driveway to the top of the knoll. To the left was the traditional worn wood country barn with the hay loft. The driveway ended near the power pole.

 

Home To Grandma’s House

 

To the right of the power pole sat a small house with a built on porch. The yard hadTHUMBNAIL 2 THE OZARKS OLD HOUSE_PHOTO BY SAMUEL E WARREN JR three Tonka trees and a huge snowball bush. The yard tapered down into a ditch beside the highway.

 

Brief traces of white paint were visible on the porch, which sagged under the weight of age. A huge flat rock served as a step on to the porch. In autumn, ricks of wood occupied the porch. In spring and summer,

Grandma DeLong would sit on the porch and look up the road toward Abesville.  If she wasn’t peeling potatoes on the porch, then, she would be sitting outside with her fly swatter ready to swat flies.

There was always a string of hot red peppers that hung on the porch like a string of forgotten Christmas lights. Through the year, people would sit on the porch and “visit” with grandma or Uncle Richard. 

Grandma had quite a few chickens that she shut up in the hen house at night.  I would go with her to “gather up the eggs.”  She would put some of the eggs in cartons in the ice box and sell some of the eggs to people who wanted “farm fresh” eggs.

In the 1960s, grandma also raised rabbits.  Every two or three weeks, “The Old Rabbit Man” would stop by to buy some of the rabbits that she had raised.

 

The Kitchen

 

As dusk began to settle, you would stroll across the creaking wooden porch into the kitchen. To your left was a long wooden table that held two white enamel buckets of water.

 

The bucket nearest the door usually had the dipper in it, in case you wanted a drink of water.

 

There was an old battered gray dishpan that sat on the table and it’s function was that of a sink. You dipped water into the pan and washed your hands. Then, you tossed the dirty dish water out the door into the yard.

 

The white cupboard beside the door held the dishes. The huge white refrigerator sat next to the cupboard.

 

By the wood table was the wood box that held the wood for the cook stove. A white enamel dishpan hung on a nail by the cook stove. Grandma usually sat on her tall, wooden swivel stool by the cook stove. Her stool was at the end of the loud, gaudy, yellow art deco formica topped table, which was the kitchen table,

 

Living Room

 

When you got up from the table you stepped into the living room, which was also Grandma’s bedroom. Her cast iron headboard and footboard were set up against the wall.

 

In the center of the room, in the autumn and winter was the pot bellied cast iron heating stove. A doorway beside the heating stove lead into Uncle Richard’s bedroom.

 

The entire house had three rooms and in the early 1970s a laundry room was built on the back of the house. There was no indoor plumbing, The natural call of nature were answered by a trip down to the hillside.

 

Uncle Joe had built an outhouse behind the house. The house had a gable roof. Siding was a brown brick pattern of tar paper over black tar paper.

 

THUMBNAIL 1 THE OZARKS OLD HOUSE_PHOTO BY SAMUEL E WARREN JRMomma once told me the entire house once sat in the head of a holler, across the road, where Uncle Richard later built a goat house and corral for his wool goats.

In the 1940s,daddy, Uncle Richard and Uncle Hobert moved the house from the holler to the location across the road.

 

The Charley Herman and Martha Lou Marcum DeLong Family had lived on this land since the early 1930s.

 

Rock Porch

 

The back of the house faced the state highway. The two screen doors, near the center, opened out on to a strange rock porch. The concrete foundation of the porch rose up about four feet and the top of the porch was a crude rock garden floor of rocks.

The rocks were, probably, used because they had been picked up out of the yard.  There was nothing special about these rocks.  They were just big,old,sharp, flint rocks of different sizes. Grandma had about six four o’clock plants planted around the porch.

 

Old Tree

 

One of the most amazing feature of the front yard was the ancient tree that set a few yards to the left of the house. It was wide and easy to crawl up into. Cousin Donna, I and our cousins, Bert and Ronnie could easily climb into the tree and sit or play on the branches.

 

Grandma’s house was the center of family social functions. Birthdays, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations everyone made the journey to grandma’s house.

 

The house was small and the kitchen had limitations to timely food preparation. Momma was a good cook, but it took Thanksgiving and Christmas for her to reveal her cooking skills.

 

My childhood house I called the “Hen House” because of the backward slanted shed roof. It was like a badly designed house trailer. However, the house did have indoor plumbing and a working gas stove.

 

The Chores

 

Uncle Richard had his farm chores that involved checking on his 25 head of Black Angus cattle and feeding three sows. He had two Clydesdale work horses, Bob and Fred that he used to plow the corn field.

In the 1960s, Uncle Richard had between 50 and 100 head of wool goats.  In the spring, they would pin up the goats and shear off the wool to put into sacks to take to Crane to sell to a wool buyer.  It usually took two to five days to shear the goats because instead of electric clippers, the scissors were sharp metal.

I always felt sorry for the goats because they looked so funny afterwards.  They had beautiful sets of regal looking horns, but without their wool they looked like they were wearing the type of pink thermal underwear that had the trap door in the back.

 

By the 1970s, Bob and Fred were gone and Kate the old white mule and Hazel the young brown mule inherited the plowing duties.

 

The John Deere Model A tractor had a side starter that was a nuisance to try to start, so it usually sat in the field, near the road, like a forgotten road sign.

 

Whenever some wood had to be sawed there was a long rubber belt that could be put around the starter to operate a saw device, which was another use for the neglected tractor that witnessed Kate and Hazel doing the serious plowing.

 

Momma had her farm chores to do everyday, which involved checking on her 50 head of Black Angus cattle and her growing herd of hogs.

 

Holiday Menu

 

Around the holidays, once her chores were done, then, Momma would start a day before the holiday to cook dinner.

 

Mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, green beans, honey glazed ham with the Dole pineapple rings were the food items on the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. Black eyed peas were considered “Good Luck” in Texas, so Momma always added the black-eyed peas to the Missouri menu.

 

The DeLong Family all loved the orange sweet potatoes. Momma would always load up a long wide Pyrex dish with the candied yams. The yams are one of the foods that always seemed to disappear quickly.

 

Momma like fried okra, cooked cabbage,spinach and fried green tomatoes She usually found the time to add these dishes to the table.

 

Uncle Richard and I loved pinto beans, so Momma would always cook a big pot, Uncle Richard liked the soup and I liked the beans. Momma always cooked the beans until they just melted in your mouth.

 

Grandma DeLong always used Clabber Girl baking power to make her biscuits from scratch. Momma would begin cooking dishes on our gas stove and in the gas oven at home. Then, she would take the cooked food and more food to cook on the cook stove up to grandmas.

 

Aunt Mary DeLong would usually show up early in the morning of a holiday to help with the cooking.

 

The Cook Stove

 

Grandma DeLong used a cast iron “cook stove”, which was a huge oblong piece of metal that look like an unfinished robot. It had an oblong head supported by a slender throat of metal over a flat cooking surface. In the stomach of the metal beast was a door to an oven. The whole contrapcion sit on four cast iron legs.

 

There were four circular lids that contained an indentation for a metal handle that would be inserted to raise any one of the lids. Once the lid was raised then a stick of wood about six to eight inches was inserted into the iron beast.

 

Kindling, the smaller pieces of wood, and paper were added and lit with a match or a cigarette lighter to get the fire started. One the flames were leaping up between the sticks of wood, then, you put the cover back over the opening.

 

A cast iron skillet was added to the flat surface. And,the metal coffee pot usually rested on the stove. Cooking wasn’t fast on the old “cook stove.” Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner or Christmas Dinner was an all day affair.

 

Frying bacon in the cast iron skillet on the flat surface was done to come up with bacon grease. In the 1960s, before cooking oil and vegetable oil became popular farm housewives used what they had, which was bacon grease to cook with.

 

The hot grease could be poured into a container to cool and it solidified, When you needed it, you would spoon out some into a hot skillet and the grease once again became liquid and like cooking oil.

The Stories

Grandma DeLong was the family storyteller,  Whenever Cousin Donna or I got the chance to spend the day at grandma’s we took the opportunity.  She would sit at the end of the kitchen table on her swivel wooden stool and tell us stories about the early days of Stone County,  She would relate her experiences in The Great Depression.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were usually the days that she got to sit in the kitchen and have people tell her stories about their lives.  Grandma was a “good listener.”  And, Grandma DeLong was a curious person. 

She would ask a question that would sometimes catch someone totally off guard.  They would see the small woman with her silver hair in a French bun and think of her as a “sweet, little old lady.”  But. this sweet, little old lady was always curious and had a sense of humor and would ask her question.

The person being questioned might blush, but Grandma DeLong didn’t get embarrassed.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Days were usually the days that grandma didn’t have to cook. She sat at the end of the bright yellow art deco formica topped kitchen table“supervised” and “visited” with friends who stopped by and family members who sat down at the table.

One of the most comfortable features of being at Grandma’s house was how people would get them a cup of coffee and sit down at the kitchen to talk,  Everyone always seemed to feel at home.  People were always at ease,

Friends, family and neighbors would sit down at the kitchen table and just casually speak about their day and the events that were going on in their lives.

The beauty of childhood is when you observe some actions, you are willing to allow your imagination to supply the rationale.I had a suspicion that the loud, gaudy, yellow kitchen table was actually a scientific, sophisticated gizmo that simply encouraged people to freely express their thoughts and views.

In 1960, Papa Warren, Mama Warren, Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey came to Missouri to visit for a couple of weeks. When daddy would sit down at the table, grandma would have all kinds of questions to ask about the family in Texas and the job.

 

1958 CHEVROLET _Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr. 0215_resized

American Classic

1958 Chevrolet

This 1958 Chevrolet circles the square, during Stone County, Missouri’s 160th Anniversary Celebration. My Uncle Audrey and Aunt Bill Warren Irwin owned a beautiful emerald green 1958 Chevrolet. Uncle Audrey was meticulous about the automobile. In 1960, Uncle Audrey, Aunt Bill, Papa Warren and Mama Warren came up to The Ozarks from Simpsonville, Texas for a couple of weeks in Uncle Audrey’s ’58 Chevy. As a child one of the factors that I always appreciated about the 1950s General Motors Corporation automobiles were how the designers used the grilles to create a facial expression for the vehicle.   Every time I see a ‘58 Chevy, I smile because it always reminds me of Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey, Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Home For The Holidays

 

Every two or three years, Aunt Reva DeLong and her husband, Uncle Dennis would arrive to celebrate Christmas.

 

Uncle Dennis served in the United States Marine Corps. They would bring their two sons, Bert and Ronnie. Bert grew up to serve in the United States Air Force. Ronnie grew up to serve in the United States Navy.

 

Of course, when family returned for the holiday, friends and neighbors would stop by to visit. While the adults would sit down to visit over a cup of coffee, we kids would go outside and go into the woods to play.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas Days we didn’t stray that far from the kitchen, so we would go out and play on the old tree.

 

Every Christmas, daddy would bring Uncle Richard a fifth of Seagram’s Seven. Uncle Richard would smile and then go hide it under his bed.

Uncle Richard knew Uncle Joe was suppose to be coming home for the holidays, then, Uncle Richard would take his fifth of Seagram’s out to the barn to hide it.

 

Sometimes Uncle Joe would get time off from the Burlington Northern railroad and come home to celebrate Christmas.

 

Momma, Opal M. DeLong Warren, would of pulled out all the stops and been in her Christmas mode. Once Momma and Aunt Mary was done with the cooking the food would be sat on the table. Everyone would get them a plate and help themselves.

 

Once the dishes were cleared away into the dish pan on the corner of the cook stove, then, the adults would sit with there coffee at the kitchen table and talk.

 

Grandma Delong “went to bed with the chickens”, which meant by 6 pm or 8 pm she would go to bed and the rest of the adults would sit in the kitchen and talk usually until midnight.

 

The family coming home for the holidays. The vast amount of food on the table. The conversations throughout the day until the evening. All of these observations on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days were what I understood to be the meaning of the family getting together for the holidays.

 

Throughout the year, Momma would remind me that, “Family is everything.” Christmas Dinner at Grandma DeLong’s always seem to bring family together from around the United States.  There was always the feeling that everyone who walked through the door looked forward to the opportunity to come back “home for the holidays.”

 

Merry Christmas !

 

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 24, 2012 at 1:43 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Ecology, Family, Food, Money, Nature, Observances, Opinion, Stone County History, The Ozarks, Tourism

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“Have A Green Christmas” by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Have

A

Green Christmas”

GREEN CHRISTMAS LEAD PHOTO_Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Have Yourself A Green Christmas !

If Christmas Day this year is “too close” to put the”green” in your stockings and brighten up the gifts under your Christmas Tree,then, a simple act of “saving” should be the shine on your Christmas tree and keep more bills in your wallet for next Christmas. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

I always got my “Letter to Santa Claus” request.

 

Regardless of the economic conditions at the North Pole and in “The Lone Star State”, Mom and Dad always made sure I had a “Merry Christmas.

As a child, I simply came to expect that I would have a wonderful Christmas. After all, both of my parents were workaholics.

 

My mother left “public work” to stay at home and “raise me.” I appreciate her decision. Throughout my childhood, my dad ALWAYS worked a second job. In 1960, momma and I moved to the farm in Missouri.

 

My mother was one of the few “Women Hog Farmers In The United States Of America”, especially in 1960. Momma raised hogs and used the money to provide for my every need from grade school through college.

 

Daddy stayed on the job in Houston, Texas to “maintain his seniority” and continue working toward a retirement plan.

 

Like most kids, I knew, the vast majority of my toys on Christmas morning came from the money in daddy’s wallet and the cash in momma’s purse.

 

The Big Picture

 

What I never saw was “The Big Picture” of earning a living on a daily basis.

 

The reason the wrapped, brightly colored boxes, sporting bright bows, under the Christmas Tree made my home look like Santa Claus’ North Pole Showroom and a Toys R Us store is because my mom and dad were “bound and determined” that I would have a better childhood than they had.

 

I did.

 

Dirt Poor Childhoods

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, was born in a small house in Peach Tree Holler, near Reeds Springs, Missouri. Opal’s mother, Martha, and father, Charley, loaded their personal belongings and their son, Richard, into the covered wagon and moved from Versailles, Missouri to a place, near Reeds Spring in Stone County in 1907.

 

All the rest of the DeLong children were born in Stone County. Richard began farming as soon as he was big enough to do the farm chores. The other boys: Willie, Hobert and Joe didn’t go to school very long.

 

Opal DeLong liked school and graduated from the 8th Grade. Every year, Martha, her mother ordered three dresses a year for Opal out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog to wear to school. She rode a pinto-mix horse, named,”Shorty” to the Wilson’s Creek School in Bear Den Holler.

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, went to school in Perryville in east Texas. Joseph Samuel Warren, his father, was a tenant farmer, which meant J. Frank Couch, owned the land that “Papa” Warren farmed.

 

Dirt Poor” is an accurate financial description of my parent’s childhood years.

 

To add insult to injury, Fate unleashed The Great Depression around the time of their teenager years.

 

Daddy’s Short Range Financial Plan

 

Daddy adopted the policy of “Live For Today ;Tomorrow Will Take Care Of Itself.” The major flaw in his long-range financial plan is “In Order To Spend Money – You Have To Earn Money. The More Money You Spend, The More Money You Need To Earn To Keep Your Comfortable Lifestyle Going.”

 

Green Christmas Photo 2 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.At the end of the day, Daddy’s financial plan meant, “He had to be a ‘workaholic’, in order to keep earning money to spend. The irony is you spend so much time working,you never have “any fun” spending your money.

 

I remember, Monday through Friday, he would arrive home from work at about 4:30 p.m. He would sit down for supper and talk about his day. He could only relax a few moments and then, he would have to start getting ready for his “night job” as a bartender or bouncer.

 

His gray pressed Cameron uniforms would hang in the wardrobe beside his double breasted suits and neckties. By about 6:30 or 7 p,m,, the pickup would ease down the narrow driveway to take him to his “part-time job.”

 

Sometimes momma would wake me up about 2:30 or 3 am, so I would be waiting for daddy to come home from work. The headlight beams would dance down the narrow driveway and in a few minutes I would smell the aroma from a box of a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts, which daddy usually would stop and pickup on the way home.

 

Daddy did make a lot of money. But, he met himself coming and going.

 

Daddy always had “a wad of bills” rolled tightly that looked like a short, fat, pill bottle, with a rubber band around them that he carried in his front jeans pocket. In addition, to the roll of bills in his front pocket, he always had several bills in his wallet.

 

The roll of bills was one of those “Games Of Life” that when you take it out to pay a bill, people notice and they just naturally assume you are some kind of financial genius.

 

The stated “Big Picture” was daddy and momma were working to build their “Dream Home” on land momma bought in 1938, near her mother and father.

 

The Coffee Service

 

Daddy told me he offered the coffee service in his shop “at the plant.”

 

From 1960 until his death in 1978, daddy always made two trips a year to Missouri. One vacation trip always came for the Fourth of July. The second vacation trip depended on the vacation schedule at Cameron’s, which meant his two weeks began either at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

 

Whenever he came to Missouri, he would stock up on three-pound cans of Folgers coffee. He said it was cheaper to buy the coffee in Missouri. About once a year, he would buy a huge coffee pot that could make about 50 cups of coffee. Daddy wasn’t a shopper. He went into a store, picked up what he needed and paid the cashier at the checkout register.

 

However, if Sammy walked past Craftsman tools, he would stop and browse slowly at all the tools. Daddy loved Craftsman tools and bought all kinds of Craftsman wrenches, vise grips and other tools.

 

One trip each year, daddy would “shop” for a new coffee pot to take “to the plant.” He would shop around at the different stores and compare the features of the coffee pots.

 

I have, no doubt, there are people who bought bass boats with less research than daddy put into buying the right coffee pot. Despite his dedicated “shopping around for the right coffee pot”, he always ended up with the same type. And, he would buy a huge cardboard box full of Styrofoam cups to take back to Texas.

 

I remember the huge coffee pots because their shiny silver cylindrical design made them look like huge vacuum tubes that went into the back of a radio.

 

I get to the plant in the morning and I make the coffee for the shop. I have a coffee can with a slit in the lid. The guys know that coffee is 25 cents a cup. They put a quarter in the can. If they don’t have a quarter, then, they put in some change. I don’t really worry about it because the guys are honest. At the end of the week, I take the coffee can of coins home. Monday morning I always bring in a new empty coffee can for that week’s coins,” said Daddy,

 

In 1978, daddy was suppose to leave at the end of June for his Fourth of July trip to Missouri. He never arrived. The Houston Police Department notified momma of daddy’s death at home.

 

A few days after daddy’s funeral, momma and I made the trip to Houston. We found Folgers coffee cans stored in rooms around the house. Each can was filled to the plastic lid with mixed change from pennies to half dollars and a few silver dollars. The cans all had coins and none of the coins had been wrapped.

 

Momma asked Wanda Brinkley, a next door neighbor for help in wrapping the coins. Wanda had momma take the coins next door to her mom and dad’s house, Mr. and Mrs. Pete Pippins. Momma ordered the pizzas.

 

All day until after midnight, Momma, Wanda, Mr and Mrs Pete and I wrapped coins. Wanda’s two daughters, Donna and Debbie also joined the coin wrapping adventure. At this point in US history, American banks did not accept coins unless they were wrapped in bank wrappers.

 

Using the bank coin wrappers that daddy had on hand and some of the wrappers that Wanda had, we all wrapped coins all day and until well past midnight, It was after 2 am, when we finished.

 

Bank Robbery ?

 

The next day, Wanda, Momma and I went to the drive thru lane of the local Reagan State Bank. Wanda would put about 10 rolls of coins at a time up to the drive thru teller’s window.

 

You have a lot of coins,” remarked the teller.

 

My husband, Sammy had the coffee concession where he worked. He died recently. We just discovered, he never wrapped any of the coins from the coffee fund,” explained Momma.

 

The teller nodded. A bank guard showed up with a dolly. The teller seemed to slow,at one point, in tallying the amount of coins. We sat in the car at the drive thru for a couple of hours.

 

After about an hour, the bank guard emerged from a side door with the rolls of coins in the familiar purple bank sacks stacked neatly on the dolly. He pushed the dolly slowly across the several lanes of the drive thru into the rear entrance of the main bank.

 

The bank guard made about four more trips with his dolly from the drive thru to the bank.

 

A couple of days later Wanda spoke to a friend, who worked at the bank. The friend had heard about all those sacks of coins that came through the drive thru. The friend laughed and told Wanda it was not uncommon for people to drop of rolls of coins at the drive thru and she told Wanda the rest of the story.

 

Then, Wanda Brinkley, telephoned momma.

 

When we dropped those coins off at the bank. The bank got worried and called the local office of the FBI. They told the FBI why they were calling and asked the bureau to check for recent bank robberies because they could not believe that anyone would save that amount of coins.  

 

      FBI LOGO_resizedWhile we were waiting in the drive thru lane and the teller seemed to be taking the time tallying up the coins, they were waiting for a call back from the FBI to tell them if there were any reports of bank robberies where a large amount of coins had been taken,” Wanda explained and laughed.

 

We wrapped about 20 three-pound coffee cans of coins to take to the bank. Momma also brought about 10 cans of unwrapped coins with her back to Missouri. It was two or three years before I ever wanted to wrap rolls of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters,half dollars and silver dollars.

 

My father died at age 52. The Harris County, Texas Corner’s Report listed the cause of death as a “possible ‘double heart attack.’” Daddy had literally “worked himself to death” through the years.

 

Momma’s Big Picture Financial Reality

 

 

Momma would never be a “Victim Of A Global Financial Crisis.” She had a poor childhood and realized ”Money Has To Be Managed.”

 

Momma always put aside a few dollars to have when she needed it. “Save” wasn’t a word, it was a philosophy and a way of life.

 

People would tease my mother that she probably had the “First Dollar” she ever earned. Momma would smile and shrug off the comment.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren was “never broke.” Maybe, she didn’t have a lot of money in her wallet or handbag, but, Momma was “never broke” financially.       

 

Momma loved to remind me “I bought the first car, your daddy and I ever owned. And, I paid cash for it. I bought the first home, your daddy and I ever owned. I bought the land in Missouri, under my own name with my own money, before I ever met your daddy.”     

 

All the claims were true statements. Momma’s message was not that she was a Green Christmas Photo 3 by Samuel E. Warren Jr.suffragette or a women’s libber, but that she knew “How To Spend And Save Her Money.”

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren is the woman, who went to the Reagan State Bank in Houston and arranged for the money to “buy the home in Houston at 313 East 26th Street.”

 

Stubborn Sammy

 

During World War II, US Army doctors had told daddy that he had contracted “malaria in the Philippines.” In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Veterans’ Administration wasn’t always able to convince Congress to provide medical care and decent pensions to veterans.

 

In the early 1950s, momma found out that daddy was eligible for VA medical care payments thanks to the hard-nosed efforts of Texas Congressman and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Sam Rayburn.

 

Daddy told Momma, Uncle Sam had sent him into World War II and, “I don’t want nothing else to do with the ‘Damn Government.’”

 

Momma reminded Daddy that some days it seemed difficult for him to get out of bed to go to work. Grudgingly, Daddy did the paperwork and accepted “Uncle Sam’s Official Help”, which didn’t last that long. By then, daddy’s health had improved and he did go to work everyday.

 

Momma The Family Banker

 

Martha Lou Marcum DeLong, my grandmother, kept her coins in a coin purse and her dollar bills in a sugar bowl in a plain white dish cabinet in the living room.

 

Everyone knew Grandma DeLong had worked hard all her life, but, Missouri’s “old age pension” provided her the money to live out her senior citizen years.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren had the reputation in the DeLong Family, Stone County, Missouri, Upshur County, Texas and among neighbors in Harris County – Houston, Texas of “Saving For A Rainy Day.”

 

The Burial And The Banker

 

When daddy died in Texas, I asked momma if we could bring his body back to Missouri for burial. I went to the bank with momma. She told the banker, “I need money to bring my husband’s body back to Missouri for burial. I don’t know, when or how I will pay you. But, you will get your money back.” I watched momma tell the banker those words.

 

In the 21st Century, most bankers would find a polite way to show the widow to the door out of their office.

 

In 1978, the banker nodded, “Okay, Opal. When you know how much you need for sure, let me know. You’ll get the money,” I heard the banker tell momma.

 

I was already a college student, so I was impressed that a banker would listen to a widow without demanding various forms of collateral.

 

The banker was not going out on a limb. He knew momma owned her “80 acres” of land and owned the other “10 acres” of land that she lived on. He knew she still “owned her home in Houston, Texas.”

 

The banker wasn’t gambling; he was investing.

 

The worst case scenario would be the bank would end up with Missouri real estate and maybe Texas real estate. Real estate in a city is usually more valuable than farm real estate,

 

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was an active real estate market in Missouri and Texas.

 

But, everyone from Stone County, Missouri throughout southwest Missouri knew “Opal Warren always pays her bills.”

 

Samuel E. Warren was laid to rest in Yocum Pond Cemetery, near Reeds Spring Missouri. The financial cost of moving daddy’s body from Texas to Missouri was $7,000. The bank let momma borrow the money. Momma paid the bank off ahead of time.

 

Momma used money she already had saved for the associated funeral expenses and the double headstone. Uncle Sam provided the “foot marker” that was placed at daddy’s grave.

 

Save And Manage Your Money

 

Through the years, relatives would have financial issues come up in their lives. When they had no one to turn to, they would turn to “Opal.”

 

If a relative was out to buy a big screen TV, then, they were on their own.

 

But, if it was a valid emergency like a mortgage, insurance, food for their kids or medical bills then momma would “loan” the money. A few of my relatives paid Momma back. The majority did not.

 

Momma had a better financial plan than daddy. Momma never invested in the stock market. I had the debate with her several times and she always told me, “Son, I hang on to my money.”

 

Momma quit farming around 1982. The only “risky investment,” momma ever made, other than her son, was in Land.

 

Land That Pays For Itself

 

But, she always said, “Invest in Land, that will pay for itself.” Her Land did pay for itself because she “rented the pasture to other farmers for their cattle to graze on” and “loggers would cut some trees off the Land every three or four years for lumber.”

 

The Other Land

Through the years, momma would tell me that people had called her and tried to sell her land in Galena or elsewhere in southwest Missouri. I asked momma why she passed on the offers.

 

I have the land I want. The land I have been offered isn’t land I would want to buy at any price,” Momma would answer. Momma lived on one parcel of land. She could open her front door and look across the road to see the land that she had bought back in the 1930s.

 

Momma is one of the few people in the world, I know of, where bankers would call her and try to persuade her to move her money to their bank. She would smile, “The Bank Of Crane has always done right by me. Until something changes, I will stay with my bank.”

 

At age 84, momma left “The Real World” in 2004. She had a double wide home that had central heating and air conditioning. She never went hungry and there was always food in the ice box and the pantry. She always had her coffee and cigarettes. When she went to the doctor or the hospital, she could always pay her medical bills.

 

Momma’s Financial Secret, “She Learned To Save Money And Manage Her Money.”

 

Momma and daddy made sure I always had a wonderful Christmas. I got enough toys to outfit a museum.

 

I was an “Only Child”, which meant I had to play by myself most of the time, but, I had a huge wooden toy box in the garage full of toys to choose from each day.

 

In Missouri, every other weekend or so, my Cousin Donna would be at Grandma DeLong’s and Uncle Richard’s. I would of brought toys with me or we would go off in the woods to play. In Missouri, the toys were in a big cardboard box in the garage.

 

Samuel E. Warren Jr., the senior citizen, realizes now, Momma’s ability to always put “The Green In My Christmas” came from her daily financial sense of saving and managing her money. Thanks to my mother, “My Merry Christmas” was always “A Green Christmas.”

 

Merry Christmas, Momma .”

GREEN CHRISTMAS LEAD PHOTO_Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 20, 2012 at 1:53 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Ecology, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Stone County History

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