Uncle Tom And Aunt Betty

During my life I have met many 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, a Medal Of Honor winner, a Jewish man who was held in Dachau by the Germans who had his prisoner number tattooed on his right forearm, a victim of the Batan Death March who was a Japanese 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.

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 WW II, rural farmers and ranchers in Texas did not have electricity, propane or butane. The Rural Electrification Agency didn’t arrive in Falls County until after the war.

Looking back I remember helping my Dad, draw water from the hand dug well and haul it the 200 yards to the house and chop fire wood for Grandma Bryan’s cook stove. If the pieces were too big Grandma would send us both back out to re-split the wood. “John H. and Jon, you know that those pieces are too big. Get yourselves back outside and do it right”, she would order! But, the cobblers, fresh bread and rolls couldn’t be duplicated now. She was a magician with her wood stove!

I remember filling the lanterns with coal oil. I remember the outside toilet, a two holer and the Sears catalog, and checking for Black Widows before you sat down. When you finished you had to drop a hand shovel full of lime through the hole on to the “pile”. A thankless job was cleaning out the outhouse!

What really sticks out now 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. His watermelon patch is another story for later. Aunt Betty, short and smiling,a master quilt maker and 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 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!