Special People

During my life I have met many interesting people, and recently, after a several hour visit with a WW II American flyer that was shot down and spent 18 months in a German prison camp, I started thinking back to some of the people that really stand out in my memory.

I have met a former President of The United States; a past Secretary of State; numerous other politicians; Medal Of Honor winners; a Jewish man who was held in Dachau by the Germans and had his prisoner number tattooed on his right forearm; a victim of the Batan Death March who was a Jap POW for three years, and not met, but watched, numerous German Afrika Corps Troopers behind the wire at an American POW camp in Temple, Texas.

Once, in Las Vegas, as I was walking into Caesars’ Palace, over my shoulder, I was watching Batman and Robin. Head turned, going in one door, Jimmy Hofffa was coming out the same door. There was a crash between us, his bodyguards stepped in, but both of us smiled, offered excuses and I chose another door! Where is he now?

When I was four years old going on five, my Dad made sure that I spent a lot of time with his family on their farm outside of Marlin, Falls County, Texas. At that time, prior to and during WW II, rural farmers and ranchers in Texas did not have electricity, propane or butane, strictly kerosene lamps and wood stoves. The Rural Electrification Agency and electricity didn’t get to Falls County until after the war.

Now, what really sticks out in my memory was meeting two very remarkable people. Uncle Tom and Aunt Betty, Tom and Betty Norwood, who owned a farm across Rock Dam road from my Grandma Bryan. Both had graduated from college, both were retired teachers. Uncle Tom was in his 90’s, tall, straight as a ramrod, silver hair and still farming. When I was 7, his watermelon patch was the scene of my first “crime”.

Aunt Betty, short and smiling, a master quilt maker, helped my Grandma around her house. When I was visiting, Aunt Betty immediately took me over. She made sure I had plenty of cookies and lemonade, guarded over me like a mother hen and made me feel that I was “special”.

Tom Norwood was a former slave! Betty Norwood was a child of former slaves! They were great people and, in spite of their color, had risen from nothing to property owners and respected members of the community. Some of my most cherished memories are of those two special people!