Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Bit of West Texas Nostalgia from the Fifties--or You've Come a Long Way, Baby

We've spent the last few day traveling from the Hill Country to the South (High) Plains of Texas near Lubbock. We visited with many relatives in a kind of reunion that actually revolved around the passing of a dear family member.

 My husband and I grew up on the South Plains, high on the Caprock of Texas where the land is as flat as a tabletop, and the sky is as big as the universe. The humidity is very low, so even in the summer the area often has cool weather. But when the sun shines high in the summer sky on a cloudless day, the rays can burn your skin very quickly.

Returning to Levelland was similar to a time warp, as both of us found buildings and places that were important in the fifties. The town was a wonderful place to grow up, and although neither of us came from moneyed families, we both were blessed with good, old-fashioned values, a love of our country, and our families.

As we drove around, we looked for our "old haunts" back in the fifties.
This building was the gas station (service station to anyone younger than 40) where my husband worked one summer as a teenager. In those days, an attendant filled your tank. They also did small engine repairs and changed tires.
He worked from noon until midnight. "Never again, though," he said. It was too tiring. He also worked at a small local grocery store until he graduated.
We searched on 8th street where I first lived in Levelland. As a fourth grader, my family found a house like this one--I think this might be the very one, but I cannot be sure. It was a tiny stucco with three rooms for the five of us.
I don't suppose any of us minded living there. It seemed we always had everything we needed.
It's hard to believe that a family is still living in this very old house.


This is me in 1949 when I entered fourth grade in Levelland. We had just moved there, and notice the side of our house....this is why I think the one above was ours that
many years ago on 8th street.
I call this my smart-aleck period, when Mother allowed me to wear saddle oxfords and jeans and shirts instead of a dress. Wow...that was something big time!
I loved bubble gum, too.

The moves and the poor accomodations were caused by the oil boom in Texas. My daddy worked for an oil company, and we lived in motels, boarding houses, and small duplexes for six years following the oil camps. Then we moved to Levelland into the small stucco house.
Mother said she did not want to live out of the back of a car anymore. She told Daddy she wanted a house for her three girls, so she could raise them right.

This is our house Daddy built when I entered fifth grade and entered a new school on the other side of town. We loved this house. It doesn't look too much different from the fifties. Someone bought it and added a metal roof, but the awning over the picture window has been there for 60 plus years. Daddy laid the sidewalk which looks like it needs repairing. Boys came to this front door to take me out...and the Avon lady came to this front door to let Mother choose her purchases for the month...but my best girl friends came around to the back door to visit, play our 45s, or have a slumber party.
This front door is where my husband came to pick me up for our first date. My bedroom was on the front right--I could peek out the curtains and wait for his arrival.

This was the Wallace Theater on the county square--across the street from the court house. In this theater, Jim and I enjoyed our very first date. The movie showing?
Love is a Many Splendored Thing. He held my hand.

The court house square is very pretty--the building has been renovated, the grass is green, and the trees are very tall. Believe me, shade is important on the South Plains. On the back of this building was the public library. I loved going there, up the several steps to the big heavy door, and wandering around to find just the right books--The Bobbsey Twins, Strawberry Girl, and all those good historicals about real people.

We won't go back until next summer when my graduating class will have a big important milestone reunion.

Can you go home again? Not really.
Since I have such good memories, though, I do go home in my heart and in my mind.
Thank you for joining me today!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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  1. Cousin Celia, I didn't live in Levelland, but nearby. We went to Dr. Payne in Levelland when I was sick, which was often. Then, he moved to Lubbock about the time we did and remained our doctor. Those small West Texas towns all had similarities that remain with us, don't they?

  2. Very nice, Celia. What a cutie you were. I know where they house is that I lived in from the age of five to 22. It looks so small now. I grew up on Santa Rosa, California and my Daddy worked for Pacific Gas & Electric Company and was in charge of all the substations in the county. He walked to work and supper was put on the table every night when he walked in the back door. I can still see it all in my mind's eye.

    Loved you sharing your memories with us.

  3. What a fun post, Celia! I find it amazing that we were not just satisfied, but happy with so little. Rich memories and warm hearts. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh Celia, thank you for sharing your pictures and memories. You are lucky to have found again the places that meant so much for you and be able to go back in time. Two years ago I tried to do it during one of my trips, and I cried because everything is changed, especially the people. My beautiful memories are only in my head and a few pictures I still have.

  5. Cousin Caroline--a Dr. Payne lived next door to us, but he was an optometrist. And yes, dear heart, all those towns are alike.Why are our memories so good? I guess because of wonderful parents who made us feel special.

  6. Paisley--that's what struck me, too. How small everything was. I thought the Wallace theater was, it's small.
    In our house, too, supper was always on the table at a certain time...and it revolved around Daddy. Love my memories. Not a bad one in the bunch.

  7. Jacquie--probably most of us feel the same way. The love in our house is what made the difference. Also, parents who kept us looking pretty, and a daddy who told me every day that I was pretty. Bless my heart...I grew up thinking I really was pretty.

  8. Mona--sometimes it's better, or at least okay to keep your memories in hour heart and mind. Me? I have vivid memories of many things. Thus, I write all those short anecdotal stories such as, "Californis Cousins," and "A Permanet Memory," about home permanents and exploding beans.

  9. Celia, these truly were precious memories, as the song title goes, and touched a chord in my own mind and heart. Thank you so much for sharing. Linda

  10. And thank you, Linda, for being a faithful friend.

  11. My goodness, you certainly made Levelland come alive for me. I could just imagine you peeking out the curtains waiting for Jim. You truly have A GIFT for this kind of writing, Celia.

    Thank you for sharing your history with us!


  12. Maggie--you say the right thing every time. Thanks so much for your comments.

  13. What a lovely post, Celia. I loved the walk through time with you.

  14. Thank you, Sarah. We should all do it at least one time. But then move on. It was fun, but a little sad, too. You know how it is.

  15. Celia,
    Enjoyed your post so much. It's always interesting to me to drive through neighborhoods where I lived growing up. We moved often, at least every four years it seems because of my dad's job as insurance adjusting assistant manager. Mostly we stayed in the west and finally settled back here on the border in far west Texas. We didn't have oil here so this town was based on business, the railroad, and farming. A wonderful 1930s era cottage we lived in, when I was between four and nine, was taken down to make room for the north south freeway when I was in high school. We had moved three times before that happened, but still it was sad to see it disappear. I spent many days swinging on the wooden swing set, that my dad built for us kids in the big back yard, or climbing the big old elm tree in the front yard. Bubble gum went on the bed post at night to save for the next day. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing your memories with us. Brings back happy childhood times.


  16. Jeanmarie--I'm so glad you enjoyed it. So, you understand the moving around business. The oil field workers really had it hard--those little Texas towns with few residents, and suddenly there's in influx of new families to find houses. Families were more rare--single men made up the bulk of the workers, and they often stayed in old box cars converted into bunk houses. We moved into one of those one time, but didn't stay long because we found a place for a family.
    The worst place was all five of us in one room for 6 mos. It was a small room with a slanted roof built onto the back of an elderly lady's home. She'd added a bathroom, at least. But see...we rarely had a kitchen. During the day Mother and I and my younger sister--not in school like our older sister--snacked on cheese and crackers and oranges. All of us ate out at night--but this made me believe we were rich..haha!
    Thanks for sharing your memories, too.

  17. Celia, I'm back again. I just wanted to add that I can relate to things always looking so much smaller when we revisit the places of our childhood. Could it be because we are now bigger in mind and body?

  18. Linda-Yes, bigger in body for sure. In mind? Hmmm, I'd have to think on that one. Sometimes I think my brain cells are shrinkng. But that's always the case, isn't it?
    The house on Ave. A? The one Daddy built? Growing up, dating, and eventually having a bridal shower there, I thought it was a roomy house. It was to us...but in reality, it's a very small house--3 bedrooms, one bath, one living area, and kitchen/eating area. Later Daddy built another room on the back that became our sewing room, sitting room with sofa and a
    "bar" with stool, and our music room--where I kept my 45 record players. That room was a big help.

  19. Hi Celia, I'm back again. Just trying out your instructions here to see if I got them right (with Bob's help, of course.)

  20. What a lovely nostalgic trip to your childhood, Celia. I did a similar trip around my home town earlier this year and it brought back such memories, even though a lot of places had changed over the years.

  21. Wonderful post! I wish I'd thought to take photos of my town back when I still lived there. Much is the same and much is not. I used the little bridge in a book and wanted a photo of it, but it's recently been replaced by one much uglier and more modern. ;-(

    The funny thing is, I accidentally ran into someone from another state who set his current WIP in my little bitty hometown that no one has ever heard of! He's never been there so I'm helping with details, including a photo I took of the high school.

    Glad you thought to take photos.