GOING TO TOWN ON SOCIAL SECURITY DAY
It's the third day of the month! Social Security checks have arrived, and none too soon. We were down to using the Sears catalog for toilet paper and feeding cow's milk and cornbread to the cats and dogs for lack of money to buy anything else. Bologna was the only round steak found at our house, (...and those awful vienna/vienny sausages). In the 70s, Daddy was gone, and Mama and I lived on Social Security survivor checks from the government and nothing else, and it wasn't much. Decent folks wouldn't think of taking charity from anybody either (not that anyone was offering). We lived out in The Country had cows for milk and chickens for eggs, so that helped, but you had to buy feed for them too.
In the summer months when school was out, I was privileged to experience the monthly trek to Town. We had a 1961 sky blue Chevrolet long bed pickup. Mama and I would get in and go over to her sister's house and pick up Lottie and Dadie and sometimes maybe even Fannie and Jessie to go along. Lottie and Dadie didn't have a car and no other way to get to Town and came as a set, one did not come without the other, and they always came. If you are counting, you can see that even when just the two sisters came, that's four; and we didn't all fit in the cab of the truck. Somebody had to ride in the back of the truck like cargo or like your faithful old hunting dog. Now picture this, these ladies would have a feed sack dress on, wearing a huge homemade bonnet on their head with staves in it cut from Cheerios boxes which you could still read through the fabric.
They had to be sure and take their pills in town, so they all carried a quart mason jar with a lid full of water to take their pills with. Lottie was a widow, living with Dadie. Dadie never married, and she was just a little bit odd, and she would NOT ride in the back of the truck. So here we came, down Main Street in Denison, with Lottie in the back of the truck perched on one wheel well and a 11 year old girl with wind blown hair on the other looking like the Beverly Hillbillies were going to the Old Settlers Parade. We would park in our appointed spot at Jennings Furniture across from Barrett Drug, the party would separate and head down the street on foot to go to the Citizens Bank to cash their check, go to Texas Power and Light, and Southwestern Bell to pay bills, go shop at stores like K Wolens, Kress's, Maddens, Miles Variety Store, Nathan Crouch Furniture, Peterson's Hardware or Babcock Brothers, etc. I loved going to the Kress store, they had so many knick knacks and toys and I wanted to buy. Mama sometimes bought me things like books, animal figurines or a toy gun. I still have all the books and animal figurines. Miles Variety had cheaper type things like bags of small farm animals or dinosaurs, a ball and jacks, etc, which I got. I still have the little plastic animals and dinosaurs too! I didn't get many things, so I took care of them!
Don't forget the pharmacy! We can't miss that! They had to get their pills. Once I saw a card at the pharmacy that was perfect for them and pointed it out. It was very large, it had an Uncle Sam on the front pointed at you saying, "Did you take your pill today?!" I would have bought that for all my aunts if I had any money! They were always asking each other, did I take my pill? They had pieces of paper where they wrote down when they took the pills and still couldn't keep up with it. I swore I would never take a handful of pills like that, and now I take more pills than all of them combined! Never say never! I did like the pharmacy though because of the Fountain. The area fountains were great for different reasons. Burtis Drug was great because of the man who worked there in the 60s and 70s - Steve. He was so nice. They had a nice chicken salad sandwich there too. Park Drug's fountain had a great hamburger, fries and chocolate shake combo! Yummie!
Then we would come back to Jennings to see if Dadie and Lottie were back, if so, they would be sitting in one of Mr. Jennings nice new chairs, if not, we would try them out, or go to the back and look at their second hand furniture. One time, Dadie and Lottie thought they would wait for us in Mama's car which we came to town in that time, an old 65 brown Chevrolet lead sled. When I got to the car, I looked next to it, and they were in the wrong car! sitting there holding their jar of water on somebody else's brown car! I'm glad I got there first! After that, we would meet at Jennings Furniture store again.
Then, we would drive over across the highway to Lowes Grocery and B&B Grocery over where the Sub Courthouse is, to go food shopping.
Dadie, left, & Lottie with groceries
After that, the dreaded stop at Bucks Farm Store to load the back of the truck up. I knew what that meant!
By the time we got home, we unloaded our groceries and it was almost dark.
Then we had to unload all that feed! Cow feed, chicken feed, dog food, pig food, salt blocks, mineral blocks! I could carry the twenty five pound sacks to the milk barn where the feed was kept with no problem. The fifty pound sacks, of which there were more, two of us could drag those into the barn and lift them into a barrel to keep the rats out of the feed. But then, there was that huge pile of 100 pound feed sacks of cow feed! One girl and some old ladies couldn't handle those. This is what I dreaded. I HATED them! We had to open each feed sack, get a galvanized bucket, and dip feed one bucket at a time out of those sacks and carry them to a barrel in the barn. I HATE tedious jobs like that! When each of those sacks got small enough, I would drag them to the barn too, enough of that dipping (we had not had supper yet!). THEN, we had to take Dadie and Lottie home and help them unload their groceries!
Like everything else in life, I guess there were good and bad aspects to Going to Town, but all in all, I would have to say I looked forward to it every month and I miss those outings with them, even the costumed procession down Main Street!
written by Natalie Clountz Bauman
The Old Days
Elaine Nall Bay