Dorothy Cox Smith
Memories of Caddo County
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picture taken in 1928 in Lookeba.
This is Lura and some of her cousins.
Left to right: Evelyn, Algie, Beatrice, Lura, and Cecil
My name is Lura Cox Brand. I was born
September 18, 1923 in Carter County, Oklahoma, sixteen
years after Oklahoma became a state. My mother, Amanda
Fletcher Cox, was born in Indian Territory and my father,
Tensley Eli Cox, Sr. was born in Alabama. I am a "red
dirt" Oklahoman and proud of it.
My family moved to Lookeba, Caddo County, when I was 2
years old, to a farm located on the first section line
east of Lookeba going south toward Binger. It was called
Mr. Barthell's "90" which meant it was ninety acres with
house and barn which my Dad sharecropped on the "halves".
We lived there until I was 5 years old, then we moved
across the road to a little house in John Deball's
pasture. From there we moved into a white stucco house in
Lookeba was a thriving village in those days. There was
Beach's Store built into the side of a hill; dry goods
store on the upper level and grocery store below. You
could go around the hill and enter either store at street
At the back of Beach's near the railroad track which
followed Sugar Creek was Warren's Elevator. There was a
train, which you could almost set your clock by, that came
through everyday at 1:00 o'clock.
Lookeba had a bank, Edward's grocery store, a post office,
a drug store and a telephone office. Across the street
from the front of the school was a barber shop and the "Lookeba
News" newspaper. On the sides of the main street were
wooden sidewalks which were typical of western towns of
that era. However, by the side of Standridge's store south
there was a concrete walk with steep stairs.
Lookeba had three cotton gins. The one I remember best was
Caulk's gin on the northern edge of town. A tornado blew
it away in 1932 or 33 and my Dad helped rebuild it.
I started to school in 1929. I thought the school was
maginficent; red brick with lots of windows. The upper
grades were on the east side, elementary grades on the
west side. They were joined in the middle by a big
gymnasium with a stage on the south end. You crossed the
stage to go from one part to the other. The school bell
was a triangle which was rung by whirling an iron rod
around hitting all three sides of the iron triangle which
was suspended from the ceiling at the end of the hall. The
triangle was sounded "to take up books" (begin), let out
school and for fire drills. My older brothers, Roy and
Henry Cox, were asked many times to ring the triangle.
When I started to school in 1929 Miss Bess Atchley
(Ashley) was my Primary teacher through 2nd grade. Our
classroom was sided with blackboards outlined across the
top with the ABC's done in a fine Spencerian handwriting.
Fine penmanship was prized in those days so we did pages
of push and pulls to learn how to write well. Miss Atchley
taught the ABC sounds by making their sounds as she read
them off. I'll never forget she would say "m goes mmmmm
like a sewing machine". I could just picture my mother's
old treadle sewing machine humming along when she treaded
We had a chart stand from which we learned "I Am A Little
Gingerbread Boy". As the teacher flipped the charts we
learned the story.
School was so fascinating to me and when I learned to read
the whole world opened to me and I've been an avid reader
since. I learned fast so I was passed from Primary to
first grade at mid-term and to second grade at the end of
school. I loved learning and still do and it all started
at Lookeba school.
Our classrooms then were heated by coal stoves and only
boys were sent to get a bucket of coal. However, it took
two people to go get a drink. There was a well on the east
side of the school with a long handled pump (not a pitcher
pump) and fastened to its spout was about a 5 foot long 2
inch pipe held horizontal by shafts. The end of the pipe
was stoppered and about every six inches there were holes
drilled in the pipe. When the water was pumped it came up
the holes like a fountain. One pumped, another drank and
visa-versa. Girls loved it because girls always liked to
do things in 2s.
We had concrete storm cellars; one for the girls and one
for the boys. I remember going to the storm cellar once.
It was dark; we had no lights. When we came out there were
leaves and twigs scattered about and rain drops dripping
every where but no damage. Lookeba has long been known as
tornado alley. In later years I heard that the southwest
corner of the school was damaged by a tornado.
The administrators of the school in my years there were a
Mr. Copeland and Paul Genung.
When I was in Miss Atchley's room she intered me in a
county meet in Declamation. I said a 3 stanza poem called
"Moo Cow Moo". I wish I remembered it all but I recall
only the last verse which goes:
|The hired man
Sits down close by
And he squirts
And he squirts and he squirts.
When I finished my work Miss Atchley would send me out in
the hall to practice with someone from the upper grades.
Often it would be my brother, Roy.
My grandmother Cox made a pongee dress for me. It had a
long waist and little pleated skirt. My Dad polished my
brown oxfords and I wore long white lisle stockings
probably bought at Beach's store. My Mama gave me a dime
to stop by the barbershop on the day of the County Meet to
get my Buster Brown haircut trimmed. I was late for school
but that was all right because I was going to perform at
We went to Hinton in Mr. Genung's car. I was so proud to
be going but I was a bit dismayed at the large crowd. I
took the stage at Hinton to declaim the "Moo Cow Moo". I
won a ribbon but I'm not sure it was first place. My
family was proud and shared in my great adventure when I
got home to tell them about it.
When I was in 3rd grade I had Miss Daisy White as my
teacher. I remember some of my classmates: Jimmy Warren,
Margaret Optiz, Loveda Vance, Roy Tucker, Geneva Reddeck,
Norma Dunn, and Howard Cox, my brother. I, also, remember
Ellen Dunn but she wasn't in my grade. She played "Mother,
May I" with me and others on the big brick portico porch
which opened into the gym at the front door of Lookeba
School. One popular attraction was what we called the
"Johnny Stride". It was a big iron pole sunk in concrete
with chains hanging down around it. Each chain had a
handle to catch onto and we ran around the pole in a
circle until we were going fast. Then we would pick up our
feet and glide. I see now that it was a good exercise
machine. We, also, had the usual "seesaws".
The school yard had a distinct slope from the school to
the street. The front walk accommodated this by having a
space of concrete about 6 feet long then 2 steps down,
repeated all the way to the street. It was fun to go
running down the walk taking 2 steps down every so often
to the end of the walk then come runnin back up. This was
like a game we played hundreds of times.
While I was in Miss White's room she would read to us
after lunch which we brought from home and ate at our
desks. Howard and I carried our lunches in little half
gallon syrup buckets which had bails and holes punched in
the lids to keep our lunch from sweating and getting
soggy. Miss White read from the adventures of the "Bobbsey
Twins". I couldn't wait for the next chapter.
While I was in Miss White's class we put on a play which
was chosen to be presented at a night program at the end
of school. I was the mother in the play and Bobby Paxton
was my little boy. I borrowed a dress from our neighbor,
Mrs. Bass, who was a small woman. It was navy blue crepe
and I thought it made me look grownup.
I had to go to the play with our neighbors, the Styles.
They owned a car. (We played with their son J. T.)
The end of school program was a big success. I had on new
patent leather shoes and I pulled them off because they
hurt my feet. Somehow in gathering up my things after the
play I lost one of my shoes which we never found. I
remember that night when the Styles let me out of the car
and I started toward the light in the window of our house
(We lived in McSparin's rent house) I had never seen a
night so black nor stars so shiny. It almost seemed I
could touch the stars if I tip-toed.
That play, though I did not know it at the time, was my
last association with Lookeba schools. For in the fall of
1933 we moved to Texas before starting to school.
I go back to Lookeba every chance I get. I have relatives
there and in Hinton, Hydro, Siciles and elsewhere. I
usually visit the cemetery at Lookeba where my aunties,
Clara Harper, Ruby Phillips, Dora Smith and Maggie
Franklin and my uncle Tom Fletcher are buried. Also,
cousins Clifford and Carl Franklin. My grandmother, Manila
Stidham Cox is buried in Hinton Cemetery, Caddo County
along with my Aunt Effie and Uncle Ernest Henson, my
cousin Ita Howard and others of the Cox Clan. I try to
atttend the Fletcher, Franklin, Hoggard Reunion in Hydro
every year if possible.
My immediate family are Texans; my husband's family since
1870. My sons, my grandchildren and great grandchildren
all have orange blood at the great Texas Shootout but my
blood runs Boomer Sooner red.
One time a Texan said to me, "I'm a Texan to the bone!" I
replied "I'm an Oklahoman bone and all!".
How beautiful Caddo County must have seemed to the first
settlers when they spied the red hills, the Post Oak and
Black Jack trees and the Willows along Sugar Creek.
Some names maybe spelled incorrectly in this article.
Other names I recall of families around Lookeba in
Chatham, Moggs, Dodd, Duff, Barger, Cencentaffer, Harbison,
Roselle, Vanomen, Hefferin twin boys, Kenneth and Dennis,
a teacher by the name of Gathers, Ancil Ross and Bob