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My Lone Star Christmas by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

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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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“Sammy” The East Texas Country Boy Workaholic

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Parental Portrait for Christmas

 

  Sammy

The East Texas Country Boy

Workaholic

Sammy_resized

Sammy”

Samuel E. Warren, an east Texas country boy, had his own style in life. In appearance, this Capricorn man was meticulous about his dress. In the era before “Wash and Wear”, he had his dress shirts taken to the cleaners to be ironed and pressed. He wore a tie bar to keep the starched collar of his shirt down. He taught his son, Sam Junior, “how to tie a Windsor knot” to wear a neck tie. His dress shirts had French cuffs, which usually had a matching tie clasp in his personal jewelry box that contained his business jewelry. In his 40s and 50s, he usually wore a stockman’s Stetson hat. In his youth, like many men of his era, he wore a more traditional business fedora, like in this studio portrait. My father believed you should, “Dress For Success.”

 

 

by Samuel E.Warren Jr.

 

Samuel E. Warren had the blond crew cut and blue eyes. He stood six-feet and one inch. Middle age gave him a weigh in the area of around 200 pounds.

 

His pressed western shirts and creased denim jeans were the visual confirmations of military service – His civilian clothes had the appearance of a military uniform.

 

He earned two “Silver Stars” in World War II.

 

I never heard daddy speak of the war to anyone. Momma told me that through the years, he had talked to her about the things that happened in the war.

 

Black cowboy boots, the “Lady’s Head Liberty Silver Dollar” in the brown western belt and the diamond Masonic ring identified him as, “Sammy” to his friends and family.

 

He loved his Chevrolet and GMC pickups. Daddy’s traditional gray stockman’s Stetson hat, western shirt, boots and denim jeans, identified “Sammy” as a Texan through and through.

 

Sammy could be considered shy in social situations. He preferred to listen rather than speak. My Scorpio Uncle Leo, an oil company executive, usually led the conversations between the family men. Uncle Audrey will smile and interject humor into the discussions. Daddy would listen and might on occasion add a comment or two.

 

Papa” Warren loved to talk and tell stories. “Mama” Warren, had polio, which forced her to use a crutch. She was quiet natured and seldom raised her voice unless it was at something “Papa” Warren said. Daddy, obviously, inherited Mama Warren’s quiet side.

 

Aunt Bill, Daddy’s eldest sister had an award-winning smile. She had a big heart for kids and animals. Her laugh was loud, definite, and would echo throughout a room.

 

In Houston, or east Texas, Momma and Aunt Bill would go grocery shopping together and run household errands. They were more like sisters than sister-in-laws.

 

My Scorpio “Aunt Pet” always seemed distant to me. Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey had no children of their own, but, “Aunt Bill” never missed an opportunity to spoil me and I always enjoyed the attention.

 

In Texas in the late 1950s and early 1960s, kids were still expected to be seen and not heard. In a room of adults you never knew if you were an extra end table or an unfinished robot.

 

Papa, Mama, Aunt Bill and Uncle Audrey always made me feel like a welcomed miniature adult. Uncle Leo liked to scowl and tease me, Daddy expected me to act like “daddy’s little man.”

 

Momma had briefed me on “Southern protocol” from an early age, so I could be a “kid”, but, I always had to be respectful and polite around my adult elders. I never had to worry because I was never off Momma’s “mother radar.”

 

Most definitely, “I am a Momma’s boy.”

 

Daddy was an East Texas country boy, who grew up on the farm. I heard stories that as a young boy he worked in the cotton fields and sugar cane fields of east Texas.

 

Momma said daddy worked as a short haul trucker making runs from Gilmer. Tyler, Kilgore, Gladewater and Mount Pleasant until Uncle Sam “drafted” him to fight in World War II.

 

Yellowed V-mail correspondence from east Texas revealed one girl back home in Thomas, Texas, during World War II, had an interest in my father. The attractive brunette, dressed in a navy blue sailors’ suit dress even posed for a photograph of her standing by an old Ford ton and a half stake truck.

 

Uncle Sam “drafted” Sammy and sent him to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas for “boot camp.” After basic, Uncle Sam shipped daddy out to the European Theater of Operations and later to the Pacific Theater of Operations for World War II.

 

Thanks to the United States Army Signal Corps, daddy put some of the first land line telephone lines in the Philippines and picked up the skills of an electrician, during the war.

 

After the War, Daddy got on out at Cameron Iron Works in Houston. He worked part-time, which meant, most nights for George Cook as a bartender or bouncer at “Cook’s Hoedown Club.”

 

Later, he worked part-time at the “Dome Shadow,” a club near Houston’s famous Astrodome.

 

Daddy liked to talk to people, but, he spoke low and sometimes didn’t finish his sentences as though he just got tired of talking and stopped.

 

Lodge work” excited Daddy. He would get excited about the humanitarian activities of the Reagan Masonic Lodge, his lodge. He looked forward to getting the monthly issue of the magazine in the mail. He kept his Masonic apron in the elegant locked glass bookcase in the living room.

 

Daddy proudly displayed framed photographs of himself and his lodge brethren on the furniture in the living room.

 

Besides the Masonic Lodge, daddy the reserved Texan, only showed emotion if he got mad. He cussed. Then, of course, his message was distinct and crystal clear. Daddy was not a skilled communicator and usually let momma do the talking in social situations.

 

He had the “hard work” ethics of Americans of his generation. A Capricorn, daddy definitely embodied his Zodiac sign because he worked hard all his life and everything he ever got he earn by elbow grease and the sweat of his brow.

 

Capricorn rules earth, real estate, agriculture and basically, anything to do with land. Daddy grew up on the farm. He served in a major global war of human history that changed the borders and infrastructures of nations for generations and his job at Cameron’s was to supervise an ore taken from the earth being turned into liquid to be poured into dies to create tools.

 

One factor astrologers point to about the sign of Capricorn is that people born under the sign usually have to work hard all their lives. Daddy did

 

Sammy loved to spend the money he earned. His philosophy of finances was,“You can’t take it with you.”

 

While daddy’s carefree financial philosophy has merit on the surface; it doesn’t work in the long haul. To live bold without a regard for cost means you have to be making a ridiculous amount of money each day or you will have to be a “workaholic” most of your life.

 

After World War II, Samuel E. Warren always had a “part-time” job, in addition to his regular job until his death in 1978.

 

Daddy worked too hard; he never took the time to enjoy his life. The true irony is he never made the opportunity or took the time to truly enjoy the money he earned.

Sam

 

 

Hat Links

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, loved his hats. From the time I was a small boy, I remember my father wearing a Stetson. It was a gray western hat with a small brim that was called, “The Stockman.”

 

Stetson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stetson

 

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, and my uncles, Leo Greene and Audrey Irwin were “Texans”, who in the 1930s and 1940s usually wore a hat. There was the dress “Zoot Suit” style for Friday and Saturday evenings with a wide brim and there was the more traditional everyday business hat, which was known as a “Fedora.”

 

Fedora

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedora

 

Opal M. DeLong Warren, my mother, worked as the chief waitress at the Cook’s Hoedown Club in Houston, Texas. The dress code for the club required the women to “dress western.” The white hat of momma’s uniform came from the American Hat Company.

 

Samuel E. Warren, my father, also had a white western hat and a black western hat from the company. Inside all the hats was a humorous name card the size of a post card. It listed the person’s name on the card. The words at the top of the card stated: “Like Hell, this is your hat ! This hat belongs to:”

 

The American Hat Company

http://www.americanhat.net/

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