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New Year’s Eve 1962 Editorial by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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New Year’s Eve 1962

TICK TOCK TIME TRAVELERS_resized

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

A childhood memory can last a lifetime.

 

The impact of a memory can affect the way you view an issue in Life.

 

This New Year’s Eve memory provided the framework for my approach to celebrations, especially, New Year’s Eve.

 

The New Year’s Eve memory of childhood always inspired me to carry out my own memorable New Year’s Eve celebration through the years.

 

The Layout of 313

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, a tall brunette, and my mother, stands at the sink in the kitchen washing dishes.

 

The large kitchen has cabinets against the far wall. In the center, is the small window, that looks out over the backyard to the garage.

 

Underneath the window is a counter with a double sink. It is the 1960s, so the overhead cabinets and the counter cabinets are the same type of lacquered wood.

 

The counter top is a black vinyl with short silver lines erratically positioned throughout the counter top.

 

The linoleum floor emerges from under the counter and passes under the rectangular art deco table that seats six.

 

The dividing line across the top of the table allows for a drop in leaf that allows the table to expand to accommodate more people at the table. The black vinyl counter top pattern is repeated on the table.

 

A large Lazy Susan, sits at the far end of the table, usually it just collects misplaced envelopes and entertains a child’s imagination because the two large wood disks turn.

 

The six art deco chairs match the table;however, the back and the seats are a gaudy red material held in place by silver chrome hubcap buttons around the edges of the material.

 

The table sits East to West in the North to South kitchen, The obvious emphasis of the room is on the South. All the furniture and appliances seem to move toward the far wall.

 

Behind the head chair is a smaller art deco table under a two door white metal wall mounted cabinet that doesn’t seem to belong.

 

Under the cabinet is a shorter art deco table, that’s main purpose was usually to hold the electric gray AM radio.

 

Beside the table, is the large ice box. The wooden wall by the ice box extends at least eight feet under the cathedral ceiling to the wall into the formal living room.

 

About four feet away from the door of the ice box, sits the plastic, vinyl green sofa with a pattern of repeating octagons. The sofa sits the border for the living room.

 

The Boogeyman Door

 

The distant wall contains the door in the center into the formal living room.

 

The door in that far wall was always my nemesis.

 

Once the sun, went down I would not go through that door. Somewhere in my young life, I had heard “The Story Of The Boogeyman.” I was convinced at night, the Boogeyman waited on the other side of that door, waiting for someone to turn the door knob.

 

The corner of the far wall was the most important because a nightstand table supports the black and white TV.

 

Our Cathedral Home

 

The home at 313th East 26th Street is a large white shingled house with a screened in front porch.

 

The cathedral ceilings throughout the house towered above me and always made me feel at home. The irony is I was a small boy under ceilings usually used in omnipotent structures like the Westminster Abbey.

 

A curious construction technique had several columns of concrete blocks to rest in a surrounding pattern under the house.

 

The house may have been moved to this location and the block had yet to be removed. In childhood, it was interesting to be able to look under your home.

 

However, the horizontal three-step concrete step under the screened in porch, established that the home had found a port to drop anchor and ride out Life’s storms.

 

The large house dominated the lot. A small front yard and a small back yard were connected by an extremely narrow driveway.

 

The chipped and cracked shingles of the house were evidence that a driver had to be careful driving down or backing out of the narrow driveway.

 

The large structure at the back of the yard was the two car garage that never housed more than one car. The space to the right was storage and my large wooden toy box.

 

The cyclone fence around the property established the borders. A small gate, in front of the screened in porch allowed a visitor access to the front door, which was really the back door.

 

Two small standing metal lions faced each other on the tops of the double gate that protected the driveway.

 

Down the slender driveway, about six feet from the end of the house is the slender door, which is a screen door, in front of a wood and glass door.

 

The side door seems almost an after thought. The side door opens into the kitchen. Salesmen who knocked at the front door went unanswered.

 

Sunday, December 31, 1961

 

Night is in command over Houston, Texas. “Wagon Train” or “Rawhide” is not on, so the TV blabs on unwatched.

 

I am six years old. I have no concept of New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

 

Momma washes the dishes. I sit on the floor, in front of the sofa, and play with my plastic cowboys, Indians and horses.

 

Momma and I had moved to the farm in Missouri. But, “The Dream House” dream kept us shuttling back and forth between Galena, Missouri and Houston, Texas.

 

Usually daddy came to Missouri. This year, we had celebrated Christmas in Houston and were getting ready to make the trip back to Galena, Missouri, after the New Year.

 

In Texas, when Daddy is working nights Momma would let me stay up until he comes home from his night job.

 

About 12:30 am., voices and laughter echo down the corridor outside the kitchen door. The pounding against the kitchen screen door causes momma to turn and look into the neighbor’s smiling faces.

 

Momma opens the door. Since the house is anchored on pillars of concrete blocks, people at the door stand about a foot below the entrance into the house. Thus, a visitor always has to look up at you.

 

Warrens and DeLongs are all long-legged, so stepping up to step in was never a problem.

 

The secret is the back door into the backyard and the screened-in porch door to the front yard usually got more use by the Warrens, who lived in the house.

Sunday night

and

new Year’s Eve

 

The culture of the United States has become more flexible in the area of religion through the years, but at the start of the 1960s conservative morals and ethics ruled the day, especially in the Ozarks and in the South.

 

It would be difficult to imagine that public celebrations would have been held on a Sunday, a traditionally religious day.

 

Nightclubs and bars would have had to had a celebration on Saturday, December 30, 1961 and kept their doors closed on Sunday, December 31, 1961.

 

In this era, states had “Blue Laws”, which did not allow alcohol to be sold on Sunday.

 

Of course, when you are six years old, it is just “neat” to be able to stay up until midnight.

 

 

New Year’s Well Wishers

 

Momma stands at the door talking to the festive neighbors. I naturally rush to see what is happening.

 

Thomas Jack Brinkley, in the traditional 1960s narrow lapel-ed black suit, white shirt and slender black tie, wears the black cardboard top hat bearing the silver glitter words: Happy New Year. He looks up and wishes momma, “A Happy New Year.”

 

He hugs his wife, Wanda. She is a statuesque redhead in a sequined midnight blue cocktail dress. Her hair is up. The cardboard silver glitter tiara brandishes : Happy New Year. Wanda’s red hair outshines the tiara.

 

Standing on the driveway, they look up and wish momma, “A Happy New Year.” Then, then launch into a detailed account of the evening’s exploits.

 

Tom worked for “Ma Bell”, the telephone company. Since December 31 fell on a Sunday, they must have came to our house from an office New Year’s Party.

 

Tom’s arm at the back of his wife emerges and grips a huge champagne bottle. Two plastic upturned champagne glasses dangle from Tom’s other hand.

 

My mind recorded the smiles, enthusiasm, joy, happiness and the waves of emotion that rippled forth, while Tom and Wanda told momma about their New Year’s Eve celebration.

 

My Challenge

 

When I became a young man and could celebrate my own New Year’s Eve, I always remembered Tom and Wanda in their New Year’s Eve attire and the enthusiasm they exhibited to welcome in the new year in style.

 

Likewise, I always attempted to embody the zeal, zest and optimistic enthusiasm that they displayed in their celebration.

 

Through the years, I’m confident I have met, and, perhaps exceeded, their level of celebration energy.

 

The lesson I learned is the beginning of a year should always be a monumental event. A monumental event always creates a memory.

 

The outcome of how the monumental event effects you depends on the energy, effort and dedication that you put into the event. The result is you end up with a positive or a negative memory.

 

In youth, New Year’s Eve celebrations seem to be celebrated with “A Spirit Of Wild Abandon.”

 

The World At Large has changed since the 1970s. Now, there are rules and consequences to partying and celebrations.

 

Celebrations overall are more toned down, less impulsive and spontaneous. In the US, cities make it a point to organize New Year’s Eve celebrations that they can control.

 

Future generations will learn to “party” and “celebrate” within a more reserved set of social guidelines.

The emphasis on global terrorism and security have done much to implement controls over public celebrations.

 

The change might not be a bad idea. Nonetheless, New Year’s Eve should always be considered monumental.

 

In my guru years, I observe the celebrations. I watch the youth take center stage. The unknown expectations of the future still seem to remain in the hopes and dreams of youth. The masses on television still exude the exuberance of hope in front of the TV cameras.

 

Celebrations’ Considerations

 

I have switched the tiny bubbles of sweet champagne for cold bottles of rum.

 

Alas, I still believe the spirit of most celebrations usually involves a certain amount of distilled spirits.

 

Experience reminds you to be responsible and aware in your use of distilled spirits.

 

Monumental Moment

 

The New Year should always be heralded as a monumental moment to set the tone of the days to unfold. Each New Year’s Eve celebration should be a positive memory maker.

 

When my New Year’s Eve event approaches, I always see Thomas Jack and Wanda Brinkley in their New Year’s Eve attire smile in my memory and I am ready to celebrate and face The New Year.

Sam

TICK TOCK TIME TRAVELERS THUMBNAIL

 

Links

 

New Year’s Eve

In The

United States

Time date.com

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/new-year-eve

 

His dates.com

http://www.hisdates.com/years/1961-historical-events.html

 

New Year On The Net

http://www.holidays.net/newyear/dates.htm

 

New Year’s History History.Com

http://www.history.com/topics/new-years

 

Historical Events

December 31st

History Orb

http://www.historyorb.com/events/december/31

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Fast Christmas Coronation by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Personal Business Editorial

Fast

Christmas

Coronation

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

When, my wife, Christy Warren and I first returned to the Philippines the exuberance and the pomp and circumstance ranked up there in the old black and white news reels with the Coronation Of Queen Elizabeth.

 

Christy was returning to her native Leyte and the pomp and circumstance had all the trimmings of The Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Dianna.

 

CHRISTMAS STAR THUMBNAIL LOGOI stood at the airport in Manila and for the briefest instant expected to see a royal carriage pulled by white horses trotting up the taxi lane in front of the airport .

 

We were both anxious to get to our final destination of the island of Leyte. However, family members were intent on their “meet and greet” ceremonies in Manila.

 

Then, of course, our royal itinerary had changed to add an unofficial “Goodwill Visit To Angeles City.”

 

Queen Christy Warren, Her Royal Majesty, was being treated to all the honors and accolades that she deserved. Prince Samuel of The Ozarks and The Duke Of East Texas was smiling and doing “the wave.”

 

The only thing missing from the royal entourage was The Official Press Corps. In the back of my mind, I knew the royal budget had the letter W associated with it and the name would not be Windsor.

 

The Strange American

 

On the ground, in Leyte, the procession of “Well-Wishers” came with the exuberance of visitors to Buckingham Palace for an “audience” with “Queen Christy” and a chance to see “The Strange American.”

 

Is he taller or shorter than General MacArthur ?”

 

He’s a Texan, right ?”

 

Where is Missouri ?”

 

What is the Ozarks ?”

 

Hillbilly is that a religion or a political party in the US ?”

 

 

Between Tagalog, Waray and English, I would hear strange questions whispered about me. Maybe, I should of cared, but, as long as they were the old, “Who is this guy ? ” question, then, I just smiled it off.

 

By January, it was obvious that most of the attendees at the mythical Christmas Coronation weren’t family members grateful that Christy had returned home.

 

The name Warren had proven not to be the name Windsor and no one from the “palace household” followed up on the holiday requests.

 

The Warrens Of The Ozarks had no serious intent to become Lloyd s Of London and the domestic policy issues involved The Saldana Family. Christy had come home to be with her family.

 

Any community initiatives and ongoing economic development that concerned the Warren Family in Barangay Baras would have to involve the overall Saldana Family.

 

Local people seemed to have had envisioned a British Monarchy arrival, but, the reality is the family approach was more a Joseph Kennedy Hyannis Port, Massachusetts Family approach.

 

Blood And Biology”

 

A person is more than his DNA, RNA, chromosomes and biological compounds. The members of a family are more than people who share “Blood And Biology” traits.

 

Saint Samuel’s Basilica

 

I have always been interested in heraldry,chivalry and genealogy, but, for the Christmas 2011 celebration, there were just too many people at Saint Samuel’s Basilica.

 

We didn’t have the pilgrims in the square awaiting the annual Christmas message, we had people who rushed through the jungle courtyard of Saint Samuel’s Basilica to seek an audience with Christy. I assumed the role of the concerned cardinal.

 

Cardinal Samuel nodded a lot and smiled a lot. But, I was interested to see were the well wishers and “faithful” were headed in their Christmas interpretations I looked forward to December 26, 2011. I wanted to know if “The Spirit Of Goodwill” was “The Real Deal” or just “Christmas Cheer.”

 

As the new year of 2012 approached, it became clear Saint Samuel’s Basilica would have to accept a more secular and business approach. Relatives were leaving and the shift in the idea of “family” day to day was becoming more like Missouri weather – changeable.

 

One Warren Way

 

By March 2012, it had become obvious that the Christmas Season was past and One Warren Way was a private home with it’s own “family” agenda. The opportunists went somewhere else. The family wannabe lobbyists had made their travel arrangements to return to other destinations in the Philippines.

 

In April 2012, Christy opened her CSW Cafe and got her dream to own and operate her own cafe. She provides good food to the community at a decent price. She became a business woman, who provided jobs.

 

Family members were offered the opportunity to work in her cafe. A few to date have accepted to work with Christy and her dream. Some did not.

 

By the Warren Fiscal Year of October 1, 2011, God was still in his Heaven, Sam and Christy were headquartered at One Warren Way with “Family.”

 

Holiday Historian

 

The Government of the Philippines dealt with their daily challenges of 2012, The Government of the United States tried to deal with international business and the carry on the traditional “Presidential Campaign” fiesta of every four years.

 

The major entertainment of any democracy relies on the Presidential or Prime Ministerial Election. The Warren and Saldana Family of Leyte settled down to the day to day business of life in Barangay Baras.

 

I have had a lifelong interest in all types of history. I got enough college hours under the belt to know how to do the data collection, compilation and analysis routine to examine an issue from all angles. I had collected the data from Christmas Day 2011 and examined the photographs I had taken.

 

I had enough data to take on the role of “Holiday Historian” and render a verdict on Christmas Day 2011 and the irony is the Christmas Season of 2012 provided the hours to complete the task.

 

Home For The Holidays

 

By October 1, 2012, I looked forward to my birthday, October 30, Halloween, October 31 and the end of 2012.

 

Christy looked forward to Christmas, December 25, 2012 and the New Year of 2013.

 

Christy decided to close the CSW Cafe for the Christmas Season of 2012 to spend some time at “Home For The Holidays.”

 

A year has passed, since we returned to the Philippine Islands. I have had time to reflect and look at The Fast Christmas of 2011. The photographer’s habit of having a camera growing out of the end of your hand provided valuable snapshots of time throughout the previous year.

 

Fast Christmas Fiscal Fiasco

 

The Life Learning Lesson of Fast Christmas 2011 is simple: people are people. We all have our good points and our bad points. Human nature goes beyond flags, passports and visas.

 

Some people will take advantage of you, regardless, what day of the year it is. In a perfect world, you would always be able to count on “Family.” The world is not perfect and some family members do not see “The Big Picture.”

 

In the early 21st Century, the “Fast Food” and “Fad” psychology of “Instant This,” “Instant That” and the evolving technology of “Upgrades” and “Real Time” has convinced people to focus on the “Short Haul” to try and plan for their lives. The end result is “people live from payday to payday without a plan to reach a comfortable retirement.”

 

To some people Christmas is simply another day to try and rip people off. To some people, “Family” is simply a six letter word in an English dictionary. To some people Christmas is just a holiday to be used to try and set up “pie-in-the-sky” business deals.

 

Fast Christmas had not been about Christmas at all.

Fast Christmas was various attempts to use Christmas Day 2011 to setup a mood of trust by friends, acquaintances and some family members.  Then, in 2012 the trust could be called upon to support series of changing, financial ventures to profit a few people.  Human nature being human nature some people will try to point the finger and try to make you feel “guilty” to get their way.

 

Some friends and family members had their own ideas about what Christy and I could do to help them. But, they didn’t have any ideas that would benefit the entire family or the surrounding communities as a whole. The “flash in the pan” business brainstorms didn’t work because my wife “The Boss” is a business woman, who always considers “The Big Picture.” 

Christy’s husband, “Sam the Cynic” needs to be able to visualize a “Real World” result.  I have an imagination.  However, I grew up in Missouri and you have got to “Show Me.” Unless I see three or four colts galloping in the field, I’m not going to invest in a “Unicorn Farm”, I don’t care how good the presentation is.

 

 

 

Mentor Mothers

 

Nenita Quezon Saldana told her daughter, Christy, “Keep The Family Together.” Opal M. DeLong Warren told her son, Samuel, “Family Is Everything.” Both mothers were right about their beliefs in family. Both mothers, knew their daughter and son would understand the changing nature of “Family” and “Business.”

 

To me Christmas is about watching kids have fun with their toys, brothers, sisters, cousins and to be able to set down to a table of delicious food and drink and feast like Henry the VIII, my favorite English king.

Henry knew, “How To Party Down !”

 

Other family members are welcome to apply their own meanings to Christmas to celebrate the holiday in a manner of their own choosing.

 

Fiscal Christmas Of 2011

 

Christmas Day 2011, I lean back in the chair at the table and loosen two notches on my brown leather western belt. “That hit the spot. Wonder what kind of feast Cousin Donna cooked this year back in Missouri,” I said aloud to Christy’s Cousin Romel sitting across the table from me.

 

Christmas Eve 2012, I put away the “Demonyo Itlog” – deviled eggs – macaroni salad, potato salad, rice, and enjoyed Mississippi Mud chocolate candy with my coffee. The women cleared away the table and sit down to a bottle of Christy’s red wine and the Philippines’ “Tuba”, coconut wine.

 

The men after dinner adjourned to the area by the Christmas Tree to enjoy Tuba and an evening of conversation.

A glance at Christy’s cell phone revealed an absence of “Blood and biology family” Christmas wishes for the holiday, which confirmed what I suspected that “Fast Christmas of 2011” was really “Fiscal Christmas of 2011.”

 

 

 

A Yuletide Toast To Henry VIII

 

I sit down with the men to celebrate Christmas Eve 2012 and loosen the waist of my walking shorts. I grin at Ramon, “I bet Cousin Donna has started cooking Christmas Dinner in the States. She always starts a couple days ahead of time, And, when I start to chow down on the hot biscuits she serves, I have to remind myself to leave room for pie.”

 

Kuya Sam, Merry Christmas.”

 

Merry Christmas, Ramon.”

 

I raise my tall coffee cup, “Merry Christmas to Henry the VIII,” I grin.

 

Henry the VIII, Kuya Sam ?”

 

I laugh.”Long story, Ramon. One of my favorite English kings, who knew how to enjoy a great meal and good conversation.”

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 29, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Current Events, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Opinion, Philippines

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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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My Lone Star Christmas by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

with 12 comments

My

Lone Star

Christmas Story

THE CHRISTMAS TREE_resized

 

Silver

Christmas Tree

Christy Warren, Leneil Saldana, Rayniel Saldana, Ranilo Saldana, Junea Tanahale and Esmeralda Tanahale, all worked to create the artificial silver Christmas Tree at One Warren Way, Barangay Baras. Every time I look at the tree I am reminded of the silver artificial tree that my Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey used in Houston, Texas in the 1960s. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, was a savvy business woman, who learned at an early age how to manage and save her money and the only “risky” investment she ever made was in land that “always paid for itself.”

 

In childhood, I always had a remarkable Christmas. Both of my parents had had “a hard life” growing up on the farm in rural Missouri and rural Texas.

 

The secret to “My Lifetime Of Privileged Childhood Christmas Days” was my mother and father, especially my mother.

 

Both parents, “were bound and determined” if they ever had a child – that child – would have a better life “growing up” than they did.

 

I did.

 

My Childhood Christmas Celebrations” were always outstanding. The devotion of my parents to make life better for their child guaranteed that the slightest detail was never overlooked.

 

Christmas Shopping

 

Texas LogoIn Houston, my mother always planned my Christmas holiday celebrations with the precision and intensity of someone required to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Momma never overlooked any details.

 

I remember Momma taking me with her to go shopping downtown at Woolworths and grocery shopping at Weingartens, in the suburbs.

 

The Airline Shopping Mall was one of the first major shopping malls built in our section of Houston. It was a place of wonder, when I was a child. There were so many shops with so many items to a five-year-old boy it looked like you could shop nonstop for a week.

 

Momma would swing by Aunt Bill’s house and pick her up or she would take a bus and meet us in the cafeteria of Woolworths.

 

Momma never left me with a babysitter, so wherever she went – I went.

 

Of course, Aunt Bill would take me by the hand and we would go shopping in the toy department, while Momma would shop for other items on her shopping list.

 

Aunt Bill never had a driver’s license until after her 48th birthday, when she passed the test.

 

Nights close to Christmas, Momma would have daddy set aside the night shift job to go Christmas shopping with us. There was a huge store called, “Globe” that seemed to stretch for acres across the horizon in all directions. We would make evening shopping trips to Globe to browse the long aisles.

 

Momma and I loved to shop. Daddy was the traditional American male shopping stereotype, who always just wants to “go in get what he needed and get out of the store.”

 

Southern Protocol

 

The United States is the United States from sea to shining sea. Americans are pretty much all alike in all the 50 states and trust territories. However, “The South” is still “The South.”

 

The southern United States definitely has a distinct sense of protocol that is missing from the northern states. It is a sense of protocol and etiquette not much different from any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

 

The best way to describe “Southern Protocol” —- imagine “The British Monarchy in Stetsons and dress cowboy boots.”

 

What It Means To Be A Texan

 

At heart, “A Texan Is A Successful Hybrid Of An Israeli And A United States Marine.”    Texas Logo 

 

Like the Israelis, Texans know they too are “God’s Chosen People – Texans are The American Version Of God’s Chosen People.”

 

Like a United States Marine, a Texan is all about God and Country, which means “The Battle Of The Alamo” is engineered into your DNA and the follow-up report of where General Sam Houston and the Texicans caught up with Santa Anna and his men is engineered into your RNA, which translates to “The Lone Star” will find a way to shine through any adversity at all costs.

 

Citizens of the other southern states have their sense of pride. Texas and Texans citizenship genetics is a unique blend of confidence, arrogance and pride.

 

Louisiana Pride

 

Louisiana citizens share a state pride that is similar to the Texan’s. Some of the original settlers of Louisiana had been forced to leave their native land and essentially found sanctuary in Louisiana. Then, you factor in the French heritage and the Caribbean cultural influence to create a unique state.

 

New Orleans’ magick, superstition, Voodoo, Hoodoo, Santeria and varying degrees of Roman Catholicism has always been “A Busty Bright Red Bra Waving In The Face Of America’s Conservative Religious Right.”

 

Factor in lawyers trained in the Code Napoleon, who practice law within the United States’ modified British legal system and Americans at large consider Louisiana an oddity best visited during Mardi Gras.

 

All the states of the United States have unique cultures based on their histories. The southern states have always had the European heritage belief that suggests your heritage should be a part of who you are —- rather than just an old family history book in a box packed away in a storage unit and forgotten about.

 

Texans and Louisianans simply seem more ready to embrace their family heritages and proudly live in the spotlight. The traditional southern culture concept is based on respect and politeness.

 

Children in the southern states in 2012 may not be as formally trained as I was as a child.

 

I was taught: “Please.” “Thank You.” “Yes, sir.” “No, sir.” “Yes, mam.” “No, mam.”

 

I was taught to always respect my elders. I was taught to be polite. I was taught if you disagree to do it in a civil manner. Only the adults got to cuss or lose their temper, but, that was only after they had exhausted all the civil rules of politeness and protocol

 

Smart Aleck ?

 

When I first went to “boot camp”, my first Military Training Instructor, Technical Sergeant Carr, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, accused me of being a “smart aleck” because I answered, “Yes, sir” and “No,sir” as soon as I got off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

 

Airman Basic Warren are you being a smart aleck with me,” he grumbled at the top of his lungs loudly into my face.

 

Sir. No, sir. Daddy is a Texan, sir.”

 

Titles Of Respect

 

I was taught that children did not interrupt adults talking in a conversation. You let people finish saying what they have to say, before you reply.

 

Anyone older than you are is always Mr., Mrs, Miss, Mz.

 

You never ever call anyone by their last name without a courtesy title like Mr., or Mrs., in front of the last name, especially, if that person is middle age or a senior citizen – it is a sign of respect,

 

Never ever refer to a middle-aged or senior citizen by their first name, even if they tell you it is okay. You would still call them by their respected title and last name.

 

When Momma and I moved to Missouri, my first three years of school I always felt weird because the Southern Protocol had been engineered into my DNA.

 

Classmates would look at me weird when I added Mrs before the last name of their mothers and added Mr before the last name, when addressing their fathers.

Ozarks Informality

In the Ozarks, kids call adults by their first names. In the Ozarks, kids could answer, “Yeah.”, “Yep.”, “Nope”, or “Nah.,” I was never allowed to use the informality.

 

I was taught it was okay to call kids my own age by their first names and if they had a brother or sister only one year older.

 

If the brother or sister was two years older than my classmate then the Texas and Southern Protocol default kicked in and I had to add Mr., or Miss.

 

The Southern Protocol was always comfortable and normal “Down South” because everyone did it. But, using the “Southern Protocol” procedures in the Ozarks always made me seem like a “foreigner” to my classmates, their siblings and their parents.

 

By the fourth grade, I didn’t care what my classmates thought of my “Southern Protocol.” Daddy expected me to do it. Momma required me to do it. I did it. By fourth grade, “Southern Protocol” was like eye color – it was a part of me.

 

Momma The Hillbilly

 

Momma took pride in being known as a Missouri hillbilly. She often referred to herself as a hillbilly. People would nod. Then, of course, when she called someone “Mr. Keithley” or “Mrs. Keithley,” Ozarkers would frown at the Mr., or Mrs.” being added before the last name, when they expected to hear a first name.

 

Usually an Ozarks’ family member would whisper or speak up, “Opal spent years living in Texas.”

 

As a child I would smile and wonder why Texas just didn’t issue a passport that the other states would recognize.

 

Texas Protocol and Southern Protocol in day to day business affairs in the Ozarks was like being a diplomat from a foreign country.

 

Texas, and maybe, Louisiana, should have their own embassies in Washington D.C., even as states of the United States because Texas and Louisiana really are still foreign countries to their fellow Americans.

 

Political Awareness – NOT

Political Correctness

 

Momma was a politically astute woman. She did not do or say things because they were expected or because it was the “politically correct fad” of the moment.

 

A politically aware person bases their actions on the situation and their beliefs. A “politically correct” person, is like America’s wimp politicians of the 1970s, who all had the “backbones of jellyfish.” Instead of standing up to controversy or working to find a solution, the “politically correct wimps” went with the “fad of the moment” and made America appear like a moody school girl in domestic and foreign policy matters.

 

Momma was politically aware. She made it a point to vote in every presidential election, every election for sheriff and the school board election. She voted for the other offices like county clerk, governor and the others, but, she really focused on the president because he or she calls the overall shots that can lead to war or peace. The sheriff has massive amounts of power in a county. The school board simply means they can go off the deep end and do things that are really going to send your property taxes through the roof.

 

Momma knew and dealt with politicians in the Ozarks, but, they never really knew if Opal was a supporter or just a polite woman.

 

Subtle Messages

 

Momma had learned the Texas Protocol and Southern Protocol custom of referring to people as “a personal friend of mine” or the remark, “they are an acquaintance of mine.”

 

Down South people understood the remarks identified a level of response. It was a subtle endorsement or a subtle rejection of a candidate, leader, official or the person next door.

 

Down South the “personal friend” and the “acquaintance” remarks were a polite way of showing where you stood. In the Ozarks, people shrugged off the remarks as though it was a boast.

 

Momma didn’t brag or boast. She always reminded me, “No one likes a braggart or a blow hard. Don’t blow your own horn.”

 

Family Holidays “Down South” in Houston, in the 1960s, were treated like “an audience with the Queen of England,” “a formal state dinner at the White House” or “an audience at the Vatican.” The significance of the holiday determined the level of formality.

 

The Generals And The Realtors

 

One of the major differences of the 1950s and the 1960s “Down South” as opposed to the Ozarks was in the “formality” of the American Woman.

 

In the South, once you sat foot in a home, it was comfortable, warm, functional and organized like a commanding general’s office. In the home, everything had a place and everything was in the place.

 

Here To Stay

 

There might be lace dollies on the furniture. Even if the home had kids, you still felt at home and everything was organized. It was formal and lived in, but, never gave the feeling that there was damage or that you were “under attack.”

 

Kids grew up with the expectation that all the important formal ceremonies of life would be within the four walls and under the roof. Home for Christmas really meant you had to be “Home for Christmas” to truly enjoy the holiday.

 

The home always had a comfortable sense of “relaxed and functional formality.” The South had a “home” mentality. The Southern “home” was a base of operations and the “wife” was the general in charge who made sure “the base was there to stay.”

Ready To Redeploy

 

In the Ozarks, in the 1950s and 1960s, women seemed to still have “the log cabin mentality.” It was the feeling that, “We cook in here and sleep in here, but, once we get some money, then, we will go find a ‘real ‘ home to live in and a realtor can sell this one.”

 

There was usually the feeling you get on being assigned to a base on a closure list, which is we do the job, until we get orders somewhere else and the realtors show up here or the bulldozers to start the closure procedure.

 

Kids seemed to grow up with the expectation that their homes were more like “bus stations”, which meant “Christmas On The Road” indicated you wouldn’t have to be home for the holidays.

 

The Ozarks had a “temporary and looking for something better” mentality. The Ozarks’ “home” seemed a “deployment area” and the “wife” was “the realtor in charge who stood ready to load the kids in the car and head for the state line.”

 

Texas Logo

 

Christmas Itinerary

 

Christmas meant you pulled out all the stops and went for “A Norman Rockwell Christmas” that could be filmed by a major motion picture studio for possible showing on the screens of theaters.

 

Zero Hour for Christmas Day relied on the children. The child was the “On Scene Commander,” once the child got to the Christmas Tree the mission kicked off.

 

Like a Strategic Air Command Operational Readiness Inspection,you knew it would happen; you just didn’t know when ? Parents hoped the child would wait until sunrise to begin Christmas Day.

 

Operation Christmas Tree” means the parents watch the kids be kids and have fun. Have the video movie cameras and the film or digital still cameras loaded with charged batteries and recording media positioned nearby. After all, children don’t learn about “photo opportunities ” until they grow older.

 

Once Operation Christmas Tree ends, then, Mom and Dad will have their plans to implement for the rest of the day.

 

In Houston,plans after Operation Christmas Tree, meant Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey, would go to church and then show up for Christmas Dinner. Daddy and Uncle Audrey would shoot the breeze, while Aunt Bill and Momma would cook Christmas Dinner,

 

Usually the day would extend past Christmas Dinner, while the adults talked until the early evening, when Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey would head home.

 

Christmas in Houston meant a 98 percent chance of “No Snow.”

 

C – Day !

 

December 25, 1959

The Home of Samuel E. and Opal M. DeLong Warren

313th East 26th Street

Houston, Texas

 

I have never been a morning person.

 

C – Day ! Christmas Day was always the exception to my genetic programming.

 

I bolted out of bed.

 

By the time, my tiny feet hit the floor, I was already halfway down the hallway and into the screened in porch room.

 

The huge Christmas Tree was only six foot tall, but, when you are a five-year old boy, the tree in the corner is always as huge as a California Redwood. Momma had massive amounts of matched decorations on the trees. The ornaments were the painted glass ball ornaments of the era.

 

The bubble lights always mesmerized me like a deer in the headlights. The plastic UFO shaped disk bulbs were two tones of color like red and green or blue and yellow. A glass tube contained a red fluid that when heated by electricity would “bubble.”

 

I would shake off my bubble light trance and dive for the brightly wrapped boxes under the tree. It helped that Momma and Daddy were workaholics because I always got what I wanted and more that I didn’t even know existed.

 

 

Marx Electric Robot

 

The centerpiece of this Christmas celebration for me – the Marx Electric Robot. It was an ugly toy.

 

Looks are not everything.

 

My robot came out of the box, to display a casket gray and dark maroon paint scheme.

 

It had a face, only a mother could love. It had a square, alphabet block style head. It had a Voodoo mask expression with a hideous toothless grin. The original toy designer must have worked on the sets of Hollywood Halloween Horror flicks because the toy looked scary.

 

It had a toolbox drawer in it’s stomach, which was cool because it had a wrench or two and the rectangular drawer looked like it belonged at that position.

 

The pedestal base leg design was misleading. You thought the robot would walk like a person with one leg in front of the other. Bur, actually, it’s walking function was more of a “rolling” function.

 

The fact that the big robot took two D sized batteries, “flashlight batteries” to move like it “walked” was a big selling point for kids and parents.

 

The C claw pincher hand at the end of the arm allowed the robot to pick up a “Junior” robot, a smaller robot that came packaged with the main robot.

 

I don’t remember the junior robot “doing anything.” It was a sculpted piece of plastic that sat on the floor for the main robot to “pickup” with the pincher arm.

 

The major selling point of this robot was “The Morse Code function.” You pushed the button on the back of the maroon blockhead and the large yellow eyes on the face would “flash out” Morse code.

 

My robot had The Morse Code key printed out in yellow on the back of the robot, so you knew how many dots and dashes you needed to spell out a letter or a word.

 

In the 1950s this robot was “technology.” In 2012, you can find the non-working robots listed on ebay, without the “Junior” plastic robot that always seems to have disappeared.

 

The moving and the Morse Code function of the robot “amazed me.” I always had to show my aunts and uncles this nifty toy when they came by to visit.

 

Everyone always laughed at the ugly little robot with the flashing Morse Code eyes. Even the adults thought it was “swell” because of the Morse Code function.

 

The Space Race Is On

 

The “simplistic technology” of this robot in the Cold War years of America and “The Space Race” always served to remind you that the Russians may have beat the Americans into space with Sputnik, but the “Race For The Moon Is On.”

 

By 1960, it is impossible to imagine a boy in America from age four to 13 that wasn’t ready to pack his bags and report to NASA to become an astronaut. Robots and space toys were all the rage from the date Sputnik launched in 1957 until Man Walked On The Moon in 1969.

 

Battalions Of Boy Astronauts Downsized

 

America could have been and should have been the nation that made Gene Roddenberry’s United Federation of Planet’s Star Trek future a reality.

 

Alas, the 1970s and “lily-liveried politicians” decided to choose” wallets and worry” or intelligence, imagination, creativity, desire, drive and ambition. Generations of America’s “Battalions Of Boy Astronauts” grew up to become “clock punching peasant taxpayers.”

 

While the future rests in the ether of time, I rip through the paper and become surrounded by a science fiction lunar landscape of discarded boxes and strange paper trees, the floor under the tree would disappear under the revealed toy inventory.

 

My

Marx Three Keys To Treasure Bagatelle Machine

 

 

December 25, 1961

The Home of Samuel E. and Opal M. DeLong Warren

313th East 26th Street

Houston, Texas

 

I rush to the Christmas Tree in the living room and began ripping into the brightly wrapped packages. I ripped into the Christmas paper on the oblong box and unleashed “The Future.”

 

Walk into an American bowling alley, cafe, restaurant, hamburger joint, drive in, bar, or beer joint and you would almost always find one and sometimes several bagatelle machines.

 

They were loud, noisy, gaudy and they mesmerized generations of people until the 1980s when the coin-operated video game industry began to install their annoying game machines.

 

Everyone seemed to love the bagatelle machines. You could even buy smaller versions in toy stores and the toy sections of drug stores and grocery stores.

 

America loved her pinball machines.

 

My Marx Three Keys To Treasure Bagatelle Machine was a child’s version of “The Wheel Of Fortune” television game show.

 

Inside the large maroon dial of the wheel were shiny, bright, gumball machine novelty prizes. At least, one marble has to align in the three spaces of the maroon plastic selection device. Then, you move the peg, which activates the contraption that opens the door on the wheel to reveal your “treasure.”

 

Momma, daddy, Aunt Bill, Uncle Audrey, and I would crowd around the kitchen table on a Friday or Saturday evening and play the game. The adults seemed to enjoy the game as much as any kid.

 

There were spaces printed with points listed, which meant if you got a pen and notepad, you could keep track of your points and figure out who had the most skill with the game.

 

One trip to Texas and the game got loaded in the Impala for the trip back to Missouri. In Missouri, whenever the game was placed on the kitchen table, adults and kids always crowded around the machine and the evening passed with people laughing.

 

There was a few years in the 1970s, when the toy occupied a space in the living room closet, but, even in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, the toy would appear on the kitchen table and people would crowd around for a game of pinball.

 

In December 2011, the toy was packed into our household goods for shipment to the Republic of the Philippines. Travel turned the pristine, but dusty box into a pathetic version of it’s former glory.

 

The toy survived the trip, with a minor amount of damage. Nonetheless, when the machine is set up on the kitchen table, the kids crowd around for an afternoon of pinball.

 

I salute the Marx toy company workers because any company that can create a product that from 1961 until 2012 is still standing the test of time is a company that had a “great idea.”

 

And, 51 years later, the bagatelle machine is still bringing smiles and keeping kids and adults entertained for an afternoon or an evening to create a “Treasure Trove Of Memories.” – “What A Toy !”

 

My Immortal “ Kodak Moment ”

 

Christmas morning in Houston, I would look up from the rising sea of discarded Christmas wrapping paper. I radiated, joy, happiness, excitement, like a new sun sending light and energy through space.

 

Mom and Dad would heard the commotion of my childish exaltations.

 

Yes !” “Gee whiz !” “Alright !” “Oh, boy !” “Swell !.” “Neat !” “Neato !”

 

They would step into the room, smiling, wearing pajamas and bulky red Christmas bath robes. Each had a cup of piping hot coffee that they sipped on.

 

The camera in my mind snapped the picture of Mom and Dad standing there smiling at me sipping their coffee. Click ! That “Kodak Moment” is forever framed in the photographic gallery of my memory.

 

I was a blessed little boy. I was a spoiled little boy.

 

Back in the 21st Century, One Warren Way, Barangay Baras, Leyte, Republic of the Philippines. I watched Christy and the kids cut out the letters for a holiday banner like a New York City jeweler facets a diamond. They were meticulous and precise in their use of the scissors on the paper.

 

As the days until Christmas Day pass, the kids talk about and look forward to their school Christmas parties.

 

My wish is Christmas morning, the kids notice Uncle Sam and Aunt Christy stroll out on the porch to watch them release their “inner kid” on the brightly wrapped boxes under the Christmas Tree.

 

I hope they pause only long enough to capture a “Kodak Moment” that they can place in the photo folders of their minds to hang on to in the years to come.

 

Early in the morning, Christy and I will both be sipping from hot cups of coffee. Of course, Uncle Sam with his camera will be ready to take a few family snapshots.

Sam

Texas Logo

 

Sidebar

 

Rubber Toys of the 1960s

 

The nice thing about being a kid in the 1950s is you got tin and metal toys at Christmas to play with.

 

I had a collection of Auburn hard rubber cars and trucks to play with. They were fun toys to play with.

 

I didn’t like the plastic toys because they broke too easily.

 

I loved the metal and tin toys because they were durable and could take whatever you through at them. Usually the worst thing that happen would be you might knock off some paint from the toy.

 

You could leave a tin or metal toy out in the rain or snow and it would still be where you left it. And, even in the salt air of Texas, the toy didn’t “rust out” that quickly.

 

In the mid to late 1960s, parents began to complain to Congress that the tin and metal toys had sharp edges that might hurt the child.

 

Then, in the 1970s, some kids had put the metal toys in their mouth. Parents complained to Congress because many of the metal toys were coated in lead based paint, which was suppose to create health problems and lower the child’s I.Q.

 

Congress, of course, passed the laws.

 

No one , apparently, ever had the common sense idea to remind parents : “They are your kids. You are suppose to look in on your kids every so often to make sure they aren’t misusing, abusing or destroying their toys. Parents are suppose to check on their kids to make sure they are not using their toys in a manner that will hurt or injure the child.”

 

Kids aren’t born knowing how to play with toys; you have to show toddlers and three-year – olds how to play with toys. It only takes a couple of minutes to sit down on the floor and show a kid how to roll a car on the floor. It only takes a moment to remind a child that you don’t throw the toy at people or furniture.”

 

The rubber toys were fun and would last for generations.

 

The metal and tin toys were durable and would last for generations.

 

The plastic toys were cheap. Accidentally, drop a plastic toy and it could smash to smithereens. Usually, a plastic toy lasted only a few minutes.

 

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Written by samwarren55

December 21, 2012 at 3:55 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Editorial, Family, Holidays, Money, Observances, Opinion

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Opal The Business Woman Welder by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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Parental Portrait for Christmas

 

Opal

The Business Woman

Welder

OPAL M DELONG WARREN_resized

 

Opal

Opal M. DeLong Warren was born in 1920, the year women got the “right to vote” in Missouri. Opal never claimed to be a feminist or a women’s libber, but, she bought land in Missouri in her own name at a time, when a woman usually had to buy land in her father’s name or a husband’s name. She bought land in Texas in her own name, when usually a woman had to purhase land in a father or husband’s name. When it came to “business”, Opal didn’t take risk. Her financial secret was, “she learned to save and manage her money.” During World War II, Opal worked as a welder in the Todd-Houston shipyard.

 

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, began telling me her “business stories” as soon as my young ears could add meaning to sound.

 

Like my father, Samuel, my mother, Opal, had grew up “dirt poor.”

 

Aries Entrepreneur Grandfather

 

Charley Herman DeLong, my mother’s father, had been born an Aries. He apparently was an Aries man, who never succeeded in a business of any kind.

 

He had tried several different business enterprises in his life and never found his niche.

 

Grandpa DeLong didn’t make it as a farmer, but, his eldest son, Richard the Capricorn learned how to plant crops and raise livestock.

 

Grandpa had a short career as a fur trapper. But, he never made any money selling animal pelts, so his old animal traps got inherited by momma.

 

Missouri Moonshine Manufacturer

 

 

Grandpa DeLong even tried his hand at alcohol production. Not a wise decision, in the years, when “Prohibition” was “The Law Of The Land” in the United States.

 

One of momma’s earliest memories is that her father would have her stay in a holler, during the day, while he went to work deeper in the holler at an undisclosed location,

 

Of course, if their was any “commotion” in the woods, young Opal had been told to yell and run frantically through the woods screaming.

 

Grandpa like other “moonshiners” kept his still hidden in the woods. Unfortunately, the brewing process creates smoke that rises into the sky and can be seen for miles away, especially by the sheriff and deputies looking for the still.  THE LITTLE BROWN JUG OF STONE COUNTY MISSOURI_4584_resized

 

Momma told me she did remember Grandpa staying for a time in the courthouse at Galena. As a young girl, she got to “visit” him for awhile.    

This little brown jug belonged to Charley Herman DeLong, who tried his hand at making Missouri “Moonshine.” Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Stone County, Missouri courthouse records reveal “Grandpa DeLong” was a “guest of Stone County and The State Of Missouri.” He had been caught at his still and didn’t have money for bail.

 

Momma always told me she was “a daddy’s girl.” While momma respected and admired her father, she must of known in her heart that his lack of success in a legal business had to be one of the reasons it was difficult for the family to “make ends meet.”

 

Grandpa DeLong’s

Great Business Decision

 

Grandpa DeLong tried throughout his life to find a successful way to make money for his family. He made one great business decision that stood the test of time.

 

His signature is on the yellowing Bank of Reeds Spring “loan” paperwork where he signed for five dollars to “buy” a pear orchard. The Land joined Land already owned by the DeLong Family.

 

In The Great Depression, the purchase of the pear orchard was a “wise” decision. Commercial cattle and hog feed had not been introduced into rural southwest Missouri farms beyond Greene County. Even if farmers knew about the feed, they would not of had the money to buy it. Cattle had to live off acorns and the pasture grasses and perhaps, some hay in the winter.

 

Hogs find food by routing their snouts in the soil and finding what they want to eat like roots, worms and snakes that slither away too slow.

 

The Slop Bucket

 

In the country, before the 1970s, homes didn’t have waste cans and trash cans. The Slop Bucket sit on the floor. Old dishwater, vegetable peelings, fruit rinds and old meat got dumped into the slop bucket.

 

Before nightfall, the slop bucket was taken down on the hill to the hog pen and poured into the trough. Hogs, “The Almighty’s Ultimate Shredding And Recycle Machines” would consume the kitchen garbage.

 

Hogs are “Bulldozers With An Appetite” because they drop their snouts in the soil and bulldoze away at anything that slips between their teeth.

 

Like people, hogs eat pears. While people pick the pears to eat right off the trees. The pears can also be chilled for use in a dessert. Grandma and other women, would save the pears for the “canning” process to save the pears in Mason jars.

 

Ozarks women were skilled at canning the fruit and using different fruits for preserves, jams and jellies.

 

Through the years, the pear orchard provided the DeLong Family, the hogs, and local neighbors with bushel baskets of pears for food. While the DeLong Family, to my knowledge, never charged anyone for picking pears, there are commercial orchards in the United States where the farmers charge people to pick the fruit,

 

The pear orchard is an excellent example of a piece of land that always paid for itself several times over until it was sold with the rest of the land in 2007.

 

Martha

My Virgo Agribusiness Grandmother

 

Grandma DeLong, a Virgo woman had to earn a daily living for the family. She would gather the chicken eggs, milk the cows to churn butter and then walk miles to a local store at Sack And All City, a rural grist mill and country store, or to Reeds Spring to sell them to a larger grocer.

 

In spring through autumn, Grandma and Uncle Richard would take the buckboard wagon into the woods to cut down trees for two weeks at a time, They would take the logs on the wagon to Reeds Spring to sell to the Union Pacific buyer, who bought the logs for railroad ties.

 

On the DeLong Land in Stone County, Missouri, Grandma DeLong always “put out” a large “truck patch” garden. She would use her “Ladies’ Birthday Almanac” to plant the vegetable seeds in the “sign.”

 

Blackberry Season and Gooseberry Season, Grandma DeLong would “fetch” her bucket and head off down over the hill into the hollers to pick the berries for pies, cobblers and canning.

 

The Tree Tragedy

 

On one of these annual berry-picking trips, one of grandma’s sisters from Springfield had come to visit for the day. Grandma’s sister went into the woods with the rest of the women to pick berries. A tree fell on the woman.

 

An obituary in the Springfield newspaper recounts the tragic accident. The old tree simply fell and the woman was unable to move out of the path of the falling tree.

 

The Land Plan

 

My Virgo grandmother with the help of Richard, her eldest Capricorn son always made the ends meet to raise the rest of the family whether they lived in a holler, near Reeds Spring, or out on the highway between Galena and Abesville.

 

Grandma and Uncle Richard raised the livestock and the crops that paid for the DeLong Land between Galena and Abesville. Uncle Richard worked with an extension agent to get two ponds dug and stocked on the farm with catfish.

 

Human Shock Absorbers

In his younger years, Uncle Richard would break the ground by Highway A and plant rows of corn. One year, Cousin Donna and I sat on the disk harrow that was attached to the back of the John Deere A Model tractor.

 

A huge rock surrounded by bailing wire was tied to each end of the harrow to try to keep the metal frame weighed down close to the soil. I and Cousin Donna were the human weights that sat on the plow.

 

The slender metal disc points went down into the soil and kept digging up rocks of all sizes from Stone County’s rocky, dusty, light gray soil. By day’s end, Cousin Donna and I looked like we were covered by the volcanic ash of Mount Pinatubo.

 

The soil had been broke to plant the corn. We had sat on the plow, which had been dragged over the acreage to break the soil. The Life Of A Human Shock Absorber is not a job I ever wanted after being bounced around over the countryside for 12 hours.

 

Farm Ponds For Fishing

 

The ponds provided water for the cattle, hogs and a few head of horses and mules. Uncle Charley Ball, of Springfield, Missouri, always looked forward to the visits to “Richard and Marthy” because he could take the fishing rod out of the back of his green 1952 Chevrolet sedan and go sit on the pond bank to fish and smoke his pipe.

 

Grandma and Uncle Richard’s agricultural business decisions allowed the DeLong Family to farm and own 360 acres, on both sides of State Highway 176 in Stone County, in southwest Missouri from the 1930s until 2007.

 

Opal’s First Public Job

 

Opal had always been tall for her age. She went to school and learned to cook for her brothers, who were out in the fields farming, near Reeds Spring and later, near Abesville, Missouri.

 

At a young age, Opal worked for a few weeks cleaning house for a woman in Galena, known as “Grandma Stewart.” She lived in a white house, across the road, in front of the Warren Lumber Yard. “I made 25 cents a week. I got paid to clean her house,” said Opal.

 

Opal’s First Public Job of earning a regular salary was in northern Missouri.

 

Brother Willie decided to become an “outdoors man” and lived off the land, near Reeds Spring and James River, hunting and fishing. Willie had a son, Harold, and a daughter, Reva. His life ended abruptly at a country wedding reception, near Reeds Spring, in the early 1930s.

 

A gunman began shooting people and Uncle Willie was fatally wounded.

 

Brother Hobert moved to a farm near Abesville. He and his wife, Mary had two sons, Bill, Bob and a daughter, Donna. Uncle Hobert always had the reputation of being a “marksman” and an excellent hunter. He would always return from the woods with “a mess of squirrels or rabbits” for dinner.

 

Brother Joe went to work for the Burlington Northern railroad and later retired back to Stone County, Missouri. He had a daughter, named Darlene, who lives in Michigan.

 

Opal, my Pisces mother, learned how to drive by sitting in a Ford Model T and having one of her brothers push the vehicle at the top of a hill. “As the vehicle rushed down off over the hill on the rough, gravel farm road, the engine would start. I would hold on to the steering wheel and turn it to keep the Model T in the road. That is how I learned to drive,” said Opal.

 

At about age 16, Opal hitchhiked up to northern Missouri and got a job on the Illinois and Missouri border, near St. Charles, Missouri. She was tall for her age, so no one asked for an I.D., and momma got her first job as a clerk in a “liquor store.”

 

She only worked at that job a few months, but, in the process, discovered “relatives” on her mother’s side that she never knew existed.

 

Carol Jane Bellamy

Sagittarian Family Banker

 

My great-grandmother and my mother’s grandmother,Carol Jane Bellamy, a Sagittarius woman, had left northern Missouri and moved to Stone County, Missouri sometime near 1900.

 

Great-grandmother Bellamy the Sagittarian, outlived her first husband. When her second husband didn’t want to leave northern Missouri. My great-grandmother embraced the Sagittarian passion for travel and the maternal love for her daughters and son and left her husband for a chance at a better life in Stone County, Missouri.

 

It was the right decision. Grandma Bellamy raised her children and became a financial role model for her Pisces granddaughter, Opal.

 

Momma always remembered, everyone was poor, but, Grandma Bellamy never went hungry and she kept her children from going hungry by always having enough money for food.

 

Long Lost Relatives

 

A woman who walked past the liquor store thought my mother looked familiar. She went in and talked to her, A few days later, the woman returned with a photo album. She asked momma if any of the people in the photographs looked familiar. Momma recognized a maternal aunt in one of the photos. Suddenly the family connections to northern Missouri cousins became clear and obvious.

 

You Have To Earn Your Way In The World

 

A young woman of The Great Depression, momma knew “You have to earn your way in the world,” Momma loved to remind me, “The world will not ‘give’ you a living; you have to ‘earn’ your way in the world. Work for what you have and want. No one is going to give you anything other than a hard time.”

 

Hospital Cook

 

Opal left northern Missouri and returned to Greene County, in southwest Missouri. For a brief time, she worked as one of the cooks at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield.

 

The old nuns on staff at the hospital were jealous of all the young girls on the staff and in the nursing school. They had all kinds of rules that made work and life difficult because they were always looking over your shoulder,” said Opal.

 

The cooking job at St. John’s didn’t pay enough to put up with that kind of silliness from the old nuns. I quit and found another better paying job that allowed me to make my own decisions about my life,” said Opal.

 

Railroad Bar And Grill Waitress

 

Then, momma went to work at a bar for railroad men, near Commercial Street in Springfield Missouri, and close to the Frisco railroad yard.

 

The railroad men worked hard and would come into the bar for something to eat or drink. I never had any problems being a young girl and working there. Times were tough. No one really had any money. You usually made enough just to get by from week to week,” said Opal.

 

The Bombing Of Pearl Harbor

 

I’ll never forget the day World War II started for the United States. I was sitting in a theater in Springfield, Missouri. They stopped the movie. The house lights came on. They made the announcement over the loud speaker that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed,” Momma said.

 

I was a young woman in Springfield. At the time, I was engaged to Lowell Wilson, a young Marine. His parents owned the Cortez Motor Court in Springfield. I really wasn’t ready to get married.”

 

When the war broke out, I talked to some other young women, who had joined the Army and the Navy in Springfield. I had my heart set on joining the Army for a time. There was an Army camp in Springfield. You could join up and serve, without ever leaving Springfield they told me,” said Opal.

 

Opal and another waitress at the railroad bar talked about the war. Then, on a whim, they went to the Greyhound bus station. They looked up at the destinations and chose Texas.

 

Momma and her friend, knew no one in Texas.

 

The Bus Trip

 

The decision was one of the craziest things I have ever done. I still don’t know why I did it. My friend and I were just tired of living and working in Springfield. We had no idea where we were going or what we were doing. We just went for a bus ride. We got on and off at the different stops,” said Opal.

 

We got off the Greyhound in Dallas. We looked around. She liked the look of Dallas and didn’t get back on the bus. I got back on the bus. When the bus, stopped in Houston, I got off and decided I liked the looks of Houston,”said Momma.

 

I walked out of the bus station and had no idea what I was going to do. I only had a few dollars left in my purse. I got a room at a boarding house, near the bus station for two dollars a week. The next day, I went out looking for work. I saw a newspaper ad that they were hiring welders at the Todd-Houston shipyard,” said Opal.

 

Bread And Water

 

I didn’t have any money for food. I just had a few cents left in my wallet, so I bought a couple of slices of bread. Water was free. I got a glass at the boarding house and got me a glass of water to have with my bread,”said Opal.

 

The heat in Houston would wear you out just walking up the street. There was an old electric fan in the room. I drew a tub of cool water and took my clothes off. I got in the tub, ate my bread and drank my water,” said Momma.

 

She had an overnight bag and a small suitcase to put in the boarding room closet. “I got up and got dressed the next day to go out looking for a job. I had a nice white satin blouse I wore. I got the job and they sent me straight to welding school the same day,” said Opal.

 

The Satin Blouse

 

Arc welding throws off sparks that hit my blouse all over. By the end of the day, I had all these tiny burnt pinholes all over my blouse. I was so embarrassed. I hunkered over in the bus seat. I kept my head down and my arms folded hoping that no one would notice how my skin was showing through the blouse. That was the longest bus ride home that night,” frowns Momma.

 

Anyone who ever met Opal M. DeLong Warren knew she was not the type of woman to act on a “whim.”

 

Youth can trump logic and common sense. The optimism of youth can shrug off the “Fear Of The Unknown.” Young people don’t fear the future; they challenge it.

 

Opal stayed on the job at the shipyard throughout the war building ships for the United States Navy, United States Merchant Marine, United States Coast Guard and welding on the “liberty ships.”

 

We were always so proud whenever we finished one of those big, beautiful ships. We would attend the christening and watch the ship slip down the rails of the dry dock into the water. Then, I would get sad. I would think about all the boys, who were going to sail on that ship into war,” said Momma.

 

The FBI Special Agent

 

Another welder at the shipyard, introduced himself to Opal. “He was a lousy welder. You would always have to go back, chip away at his welds and brush away the slag metal. Then, you would have to run a good bead of metal over the work. I couldn’t imagine why the bosses at the shipyard didn’t fire this man. We always had to go back over his work,” said Opal.

 

FBI LOGO_resizedHe invited me for a cup of coffee a couple of times. I always turned him down. “Then, one day, he came clean. He admitted he was an FBI agent working under cover. At first, I thought he was pulling my leg.”

 

A few days later, he did show me his badge. During the war, there was always the fear of saboteurs. There were posters all around the shipyard and the bosses and the foremen would always remind you, ‘Loose Lips Sinks Ships,’”said Momma.

 

He told me he had been sent there to look for someone. He didn’t get specific. I didn’t ask questions. He wanted me to introduce him to some of the workers around the shipyard and I did. He must of got whoever he was looking for. A few weeks later, we gave him a going away party as a welder, who was leaving,” said Momma.

 

Dollar Document

 

She reaches into her purse and takes out a one dollar bill. Carefully, she holds it and a portion of the dollar folds back. “I had never seen anyone split a dollar bill this way. At the party, he asked me for a dollar. I watched him move it between his fingers, until it started to separate. Then, he had people at the party sign the inside of the dollar bill. He laughed and told me, now, I had a souvenir to remember him by.” Momma laughs,”I still remember, he was a lousy welder.”

 

Lousy Painter

 

Opal became a shop steward at the shipyard. “I met your daddy at the shipyard. After he got his honorable discharge from the Army, he got on out at Todd-Houston as a painter. A friend set me up on a blind date for Thanksgiving. I wasn’t impressed.

 

Your daddy was a lousy painter. A friend told me later that the first time Sammy seen me, he told his friend, ‘I’m going to marry that woman.’ I accepted his invitation for a second date. We started dating. Then, in January of 1947, we got married,” said Momma.

 

Samuel E. Warren made a smart decision to marry Opal M. DeLong. His second smart decision was to marry her on his birthday, which meant he would never “forget” his anniversary.

 

Family Is Everything

 

Momma always stressed the importance of family to me in her business conversations. “You get many things in life. The only thing that matters is family. You get one mother. You get one father. Your brothers and sisters can’t be replaced. Once they are gone – they are gone. Always love and take care of your family. Family Is Everything,” she would emphasize time and again.

 

Momma told me that wherever she worked, she always sent money home to her mother. The psychology of the Ozarks at that time would never view the money as “charity.”

 

People in the Ozarks have a stubborn “work ethic.” The money was simply money from family for the family. And, family always takes care of one another.

 

Balancing The Books

 

As a kid, I would always smile whenever money changed hands in the DeLong Family. They always took a simple act of human kindness in the family and made it seem like Federal Reserve bankers accounting for each coin and currency in a US Mint shipment.

 

If Momma went to a grocery store and saw food or drink that grandma and Uncle Richard liked, she would buy it. Grandma DeLong always made Momma get her “change purse” and take out the money to pay for the groceries.

 

Uncle Richard always did the same thing if Momma picked up groceries or farm supplies for him.

 

It never mattered if the cost was a few cents or several dollars, Grandma and Uncle Richard always made sure Momma got paid back any money she spent for them.

 

Birthdays and Christmas were the only times that you could give Grandma DeLong or Uncle Richard a “gift” because they had the Ozarks belief that “You Pay Your Way In Life.”

 

Save And Manage Your Money

 

When Sammy and Opal got married,for a time, they lived at Opal’s apartment at 1414 Austin, Houston Texas. Opal M. DeLong Warren in her business stories always emphasized “Family” and “Save Your Money And Learn To Manage Your Money.”

Sam

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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December 20, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Posted in Bloggers, Blogs, Business, Editorial, Family, Money, Opinion, Stone County History

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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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The Star Picture Frame Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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THIS IS THE STAR PICTURE FRAME LEAD PHOTO TO PUBLISH MOMMA AND DADDY 1

The Star Picture Frame

The glass star picture frame is an American antique from the World War II and 1940s era. Opal M. DeLong Warren and her husband, Samuel E. Warren sit at the counter of “Sammy’s”, a landmark and famous Houston, Texas restaurant.  Sammy and Opal smile at the photographer.

 

In this photograph, Opal worked as a sales clerk at Foley’s, a major department store in Houston. Samuel E. Warren worked as a "Heat Treater" at Cameron Iron Works, In his job, molten metal was poured into dies to make tools for crescent wrenches,oil well equipment and jet plane pistons.

 

At the end of the day, the Warrens would often meet for supper at "Sammy’s." Both of the Warrens had a second job. Opal worked nights as the chief waitress at "Cook’s Hoedown Club." Samuel worked nights "pulling bar" as a bartender and sometimes a bouncer at "Cook’s Hoedown Club."

 

Mom and dad were "workaholics", but their efforts paid off they "owned" their home in Houston and they bought a farm in Missouri. Of course, they were also the proud parents of the world famous American Reporter,Writer and Photographer, Samuel E. Warren Jr.

 

Opal and Sammy established the foundations that guided Samuel E. Warren Jr, to join the United States Air Force and try to make a positive difference in the world.   CHRISTMAS TREE LOGO PHOTO TWO THUMBNAIL

    CHRISTMAS STAR LOGO PHOTO THUMBNAIL TWO

Samuel E. Warren Jr. married Maria Christina “Christy” Saldana at Clark Air Base  Republic of the Philippines, July 19, 1990. December 19, 2011, they moved to Leyte, Republic of the Philippines to allow Christy to return to her birthplace. Nikon D 70 Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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