From early life I have had an ambition to engage in the junk business. It always held out a promise for romance and possible profit. There is to me a fascination in junk. Junk is something some folk do not want and when collected it assumes the air of big business and just now if one will go down to the Houston ship channel and see large steamers being loaded with junk for many foreign countries, one’s eyes will open to the magnitude of the junk business. Buying and selling junk is swell business and many times a surprise rewards the junk man.
I know of a junk man out west, who bought the contents of an abandoned prospector’s cabin. The man having died, the court ordered the sale, and when the junk man looked over his purchase, he found in an old stove gold dust valued at $5,000. Such things have happened more than twice and that is one of the romances of the junk business. Junk, according to my old friend, Noah, is “old iron or other metals, glass, paper, rags bought and sold.”
My little sister, Lucy, at one time was in the junk business when she gathered rags and paper and sold to her father and she made big money, that is, big money for a six-year-old. Maybe that is why I always was fond of junk.
Hardly had I written the head to this string before a truck stopped in front and a rather poorly dressed man came to the door and said he was a junk man and asked if I had any old iron, copper, brass or other metal, rags, boxes, bottles. Coincidence!
One time while at the Windsor Hotel in Troy, N. Y., every morning a wobbly wheeled wagon drawn by a wretched horse with dilapidated harness, passed the hotel. The driver was an Italian and he had a rich, operatic voice, and with it he sang lustily, “any rags, any rags, any rags, bones or bottles today, the same old story in the same old way.” This man was a romantic junk man. He took pride and pleasure in his business and sang as he passed along the road. I wanted to join him in the junk business. Today as one will realize if one visits the Houston ship channel, junk is Big Business. Here great ships load with the harvest from thousands of farms. The nations of the world are hungry for junk. Oh, sure, the junk business is good business. My sister, Lucy, used to be in the junk business when she was about six years old and she made big money, sometimes as much as six cents per day. Big Business!
Gathering old scrap is not the only thing in the junk game. We have much human junk. Drift wood, cast up by life’s sea, wash and left on the shore of time. Bums, tramps, hoboes, criminals, down-and-outers who have lost faith in man and God, and they rested along the beach, cast ashore as worthless and there they rested. Here comes the Hope Mission, gatherer of human junk. The junk is taken in, washed, dressed, fed, sorted and much of it is returned to society ready for service. This junk, like the other junk, has many grades. Some are so valuable that with small cost and effort they are turned back and become desirable and valued citizens. Some, like the poorest of cast iron, are of little value, and some of them slip back into the backwash and are lost for always. This business of salvage of human junk is one of the finest movements in our land. Day by day the gatherers of human junk bring in their burdens singing, “any rags, any rags, any rags, bones or bottles today.” I have visited one of these Hope Missions on the east side of lower Broadway and witnessed some of this reconstruction junk business and it is a heart thrilling sight to see the pitiful efforts to come back to respectability. Oh yes, the junk business is a wonder business, a very profitable business whether loading ships or saving the souls of men. As I sit here today, I more than ever wish I was in the junk business. I know my ambition will never be realized for my wooden leg and glass eye forbid such activity as is required in the junk business. Still, I wish the miserable wretch was the wife of the junk man.
Elliott Curtis brought us home from Houston and the next day came down with a fine case of mumps. I think he got the mumps from the bumps on that new Wharton-Bay City pavement. This pavement is a series of long waves, each one supplying a bump. I may have a wooden leg and a glass eye, but thanks be I do not have a kid disease.
Went on a visit to the new Kopecky store and it is a very clean, sweet place with bright natural wood, oiled finish furniture and looks very nice. He has a swell ice box all enameled in red and filled with ice and three kinds of cans. I had one and it was good and brought two home for my side pardner, so we were both pleased. Had a pint of strawberries, also, and with cream and sugar made a real satisfying meal. So long as Mr. Kopecky keeps the necessary items, he will have good business. One of our local dealers ways he will put in a few cases for personal use. He now gives purchasers lamp shades, cooking vessels as a premium. I suggest that if he will give a can of beer with each dollar sale he will be obliged to put in extra help to care for the heavy extra trade.
The oil well east of town is still drilling and hoping to get the juice that brings in the cash money.
Mrs. Dena D. Hurd, president of the County Federation of Woman’s Clubs, and Mrs. Liggett, secretary, spent Saturday in Blessing in conference with Mrs. Abel Pierce on Federation business.
Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Hurd were here Sunday with an invitation to go to Matagorda Christ Church and hear Bishop Quin conduct evening prayer. While grateful for the invitation, we felt much too exhausted to undertake another night trip. I hope they will pass out a rain check.
Did you read Friday’s Tribune? An eight pager and a credit to Bay City. And looking it over, I notice that Tootsy has been promoted to the editorial staff, but did not notice that the “Thoughts” Man had been promoted. For years, without a skip, my copy has been in regularly, except when too ill to use my hand, and still no promotion. They know that with my wooden leg and glass eye that writing “Thoughts” is about my limit. They know I am like a wad of last year’s chewing gum. It sticks, but it does not move. Some day I shall just raise hell with that outfit.
Well, anyway, if not too late, I wish to congratulate the Bay City Creamery. It looks sweet on the outside and some day I shall go inside. I know it will smell like the perfume of fresh blooming flowers. Many men will remember that when I was with the A. & M. and later as director of Extension Work of the Texas Creamery, I lectured in every school house in Matagorda County, urging farmers to find better cows and depend on the dairy business. I used to tell them to stop keeping cows and let cows keep them. Did they heed the advice? Not as anyone noticed and so the dairy business languished. One man who had sixteen very indifferent cows asked, “What shall I do?” In reply I said, “Do you recall what Jesus said to the rich man?” He replied that he had never heard of it and so I said, “Jesus said sell all thou hast and give to the poor. He was amazed and said, “Do you want me to give my cows away?” I replied “It will be much better for you to get rid of the sixteen and buy two good cows, and the sooner you accept my advice, the nearer will fortune smile.” I am very much pleased that at last we have a new and up-to-date creamery. I congratulate the owners and hope they will have realization of their dreams.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, May 6,
How slender the silken cord that connects birth with death. How delicate it is. The wonder is that its strength lasts for seventy, eighty, ninety years, or even more. One wonders why it snaps early in life, in the mid season. Always from the first breath until the last life’s candle flame flutters until at last God blows the flame out and we know a soul has passed into the unknown but hoped for eternal life. This is the hope God holds out to the human race. It is in the soul of the savage man, as it is in the soul of the highest human development. A hope—a faith that some day will come a realization of a promise. God keeps the faith and watches the candle. Let me review the harvest of the past year from my own circle of friends. Robert Murry, after a long illness passed. Burton D. Hurd, with the candle fluttering at times, glowing brightly, but always a flicker until on November 23rd, God extinguished the flame. A few weeks ago I attended the Rotary Club in Palacios and sent word to my old friend, Philip Bucek, that I planned to visit him. In a few days Philip was found dead in his garden, hoe in hand. Fred Montier of Shell Fish Café fame, whose hospitality I had enjoyed for many years. I planned to visit him and partake of his crab gumbo. He died that week. Will Shuey called on me a few weeks ago and looked fine. Will was called and in a moment his soul had passed. It seemed a queer coincidence, but J. B. McCain and Charles Duller were cashiers in the local bank. Both died suddenly on the same day and about the same hour. Mr. Duller was about his business as usual on Wednesday. The night before he attended a banquet at Bay City. He left his store at about 6:30, closed the door, turned the key, little knowing that his work was finished. To his home and a little garden work. When Mrs. Duller called there was no reply and she found him prone on the ground. Thus Charles Duller passed. Funeral held Friday with many friends from all portions of the county in attendance showing the respect they held for this man. Interment in Old Hawley Cemetery near Tide Haven. Charles Duller lived here for several years and was well and favorably known by old timers. The funeral at the grave was in charge of the local Masonic order and Mr. Duller will be missed in Masonic circles, for he was an authority on Masonic history and practice. Our sympathy and respects go to the wife he leaves to carry on. Here are seven of my old friends, all called during the past year. What will be the harvest this year? No man is able to tell. All we know is that God in His time blows out the candle flame and a soul passes into the eternal life, into a life where we believe great development will be experienced. Faith and hope are the things God holds out for us. Without this how pitiful would be the end of man. Hope with its truth, confidence, reliance. Faith with its belief, assurance, dependence. Two great anchors to windward promising the soul a safe passage to the great beyond. God rest the souls of Robert Murry, Burton Hurd, Philip Bucek, Fred Montier, Will Shuey, J. B. McCain and Charles Duller. God be merciful and comfort those who are left to mourn as the candle’s last guttering, flickering flames goes out.
Saturday at 9:00 p. m. a voice at the open door said, “It is Richard and I have two cans of beer sent over by Mr. Kopecky, all ice cold.” We sat there and sipped the brew and in our thoughts we thanked Mr. Kopecky for his thoughtful gift. Fine thing to have so many kind and generous friends. The Kopecky store is a sweet and neat place and no doubt will have its share of local trade.
In my opinion, the farmer is the world’s greatest gambler. The money bet on ponies is a white chip compared with the sum farmers bet on crops. If a farmer would buy a ticket for place or show on Golden Dawn instead of placing his money on corn to win, he probably would have an easier life and more cash. The cotton farmer would be ahead if he did his gambling in futures and might sit on the gallery and smoke in peace. Millions are bet on horses and billons on corn, wheat, cotton, rye, oats and fruits. From the moment the farmer sets his plow, he is betting against nature. Against no rain, against winds, storms, against insect pests, against falling markets. All things seem stacked against him. With the ponies, when betting for place or show, he has a chance to win and in any event when the sun sets he knows where he lives.
Tuesday must have been callers’ day for I had as visitors, Ethel Nelson, the two Guyer girls and Nancy Sutton. It seems true that at some time in our lives we wish to write poetry. The urge to do this came to Nancy Sutton, in the eighth grade, Collegeport School. Nancy promises to develop into a great poet if she keeps a tryin’. She gave me three poems which I shall use from time to time. The first is entitled
“What the People of Yesterday Would Think of the World Today.”
“When Martha and George Washington lived here
Pretty good for such a tiny little chick. Friday I was alone for she, whom when in a jocular mood I call the miserable wretch, was in Blessing and why should not a woman tied to a man with a wooden leg and a glass eye be miserable? Well the hours were broken by a nice visit from Mrs. Robert Murry of the Slough Ranch. I’ll be going over there some day on a return.
Had a letter from Mr. Yorke, St. Louis. He owns Block 24 in the townsite and wanted to know all about the oil situation and my advice about subscribing to the Tribune. I hope, when, as and if the Tribune receives this man’s one and half dollars, the management will promote me. It is a difficult task to write “Thoughts” and solicit subscriptions. If I had two legs and two eyes, it would be an easy job.
Sunday was supposed to be Mother’s Day, but my good friends turned it into Father’s Day. At 8:30 p. m. came a fine big car and soon I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Kilpatrick who married Jessie Merck. He from Dallas. Then there was Elvie Merck Martin, a sweet elfin and very dear to me for the flower that she is and to the top of the cream was my two girls Zadie Z and Sunshine Too, from Hockley. Well the way them there gals swung on me one would think that I was a very important individual. I liked those hugs and kisses. What man would not enjoy the evidence of the love these dear girls have for me, even if I am an old man with a wooden leg and a glass eye. I shall wait with impatience to the return of my two Hockley sweeties.
Came Dena D. Hurd and her son, Vernon, with an invitation to attend the luncheon of the Woman’s-Daughter club meeting at Mopac House, Thursday, with the Girl Reserves rendering the service.
John Shoemaker still crazy about fishing and promises to bring me a mess of frog legs, a delightful dainty which I shall enjoy with the usual proviso when, as and if. Also came my good old friend of many years, my time tried and fire tested friend, Seth W. Corse, late judge of the Seventh Judicial District. Another happy hour with this old boy. I’ll be lonesome without his daily calls. Came Arthur Liggett with a box which on being opened disclosed an apricot pie. On top of the pie I found a card bearing the name of Mrs. John H. Cherry. This card was not necessary to identify the giver for no one on earth is able to make such a pie as Mrs. Cherry. Many women can make a nice top crust, but the lower is as a rule a bit soggy. This pie had for top and lower the same flaky, crispy delight of a crust. Just as tender as the breast of a baby. Between the two crusts was the filling--a generous filling—the sort any big open-hearted magnanimous soul would provide. Color beautiful as any bloom found in nature’s garden. Mrs. Cherry is the grandest fruit ever plucked from a cherry tree and yet she has developed into a wonderful apricot pie artist. The pie was good looking—beautiful—lovely—graceful—elegant. But back of it was the thought which prompted the gift. It brought me happiness, felicity, enjoyment, contentment, delight. Thank you God for giving me such a wonderful friend as is Mrs. John H. Cherry.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, May
Aunt Abigal Hepplewhite, a handsome old doll, was on our streets today. Aunt Abigal says if they will let her alone she will not only balance the Federal budget but save enough to build the causeway from Palacios to Collegeport.
Bud Connors smokes his cigar clear to the butt without losing the ashes, then takes the ashes into his mouth to clean his teeth with. Saves buying paste.
Cash McBride was seen on our streets last week.
Mr. and Mrs. Seldon Kjones announce the arrival of a boy weighing seven pounds, thirteen and a quarter ounces. They named him Kush Kjones.
Our colored brother, Reverend Panorama Sludge, will hold meetings in the Church of the Golden Chair this coming Sunday.
Aunt Simper Spreader is still knitting wash rags and now has set up the first of the third thousand. We sent thanks to Aunt Simper for a beautiful rag she sent us on her subscription account. She says, “I just can’t get along without the Tribune and them Thought artickles.”
Jasper Perkins says his favorite sow has thirteen pigs. Pretty good, Jas, but thirteen is sure unlucky.
Sliver Cassady was in two days ago and brought us a fine gallon jug of white mule. Sliver says if Zed and Genie would keep their nose out of my business I could make more good stuff.
Throwin Jenkins called on us Friday. He was very much peeved because we forgot to mention that he fell out of a tree and busted his cubicle.
Aunt Prue Perkins was operated on last night at the local hospital and her triform vegeter was removed. We are glad to announce that Aunt is now resting easy.
Slim Jippers says that he has a new tobacco pouch equipped with a zipper. He says it works fine and saves lots of valuable time but now he don’t know what inthehell he can do with the time. Slim is just like them auto fellers always saving time and not knowing what to do with it.
Jed Prutz came to the office today and paid up his subscription account by handing over a mess of cat fish. Ye editor and family will now revel in cat fish. We asked Jed why he did not fish with John Shoemaker and in reply the old coot said, “John hain’t never done nuthin’ fur me and I don’t never see nuthin’ in doin’ nuthin’ fur them as never done nuthin’ fur me.” We get the cat fish and Jed gets the Tribune.
Now Mr. Editor, if you will substitute well known local names for those used, you will have a swell local news column.
Monday, much to our surprise and delight, came Miss Frances Mayfield, one time Matagorda County health nurse, but now district manager for the State Board of Health. She works in El Campo this week and for the next two weeks in Brazoria County. This visit started the week off in swell style. She has just completed her new five-room home on Broadview, Woodlawn Hill, San Antonio. She told me where to find the key if I need shelter any time. Pretty nifty.
One week from Tuesday comes May 25th, Collegeport’s birthday. It will be the 29th time our folk have gathered for a community dinner. It is to the credit of our people that they have kept the faith for so many years. This year I presume, we will assemble bringing the bounties that God has given us and with them thanks for the gifts. We will meet old friends and renew old thoughts. Let every one take notice and remember the 25th and what happened May 25th, 1909. Bring your hamburger and one for the other fellow. We hope some Bay City and Palacios folk will visit us that day. If they fail us this year they will be around next year just before the primary. That is the time they always call.
In the center of the front page of Wednesday’s Chronicle appeared a warning which occupied a space five inches by four columns. This warning was issued by Ambassador Dodd in letters sent to several Senators. Mr. Dodd has been informed, so he states, that plans are under way to establish a dictatorship for these United States by some very wealthy men among them being a billionaire who plans to control, the dictator. It is a mess of foolish, silly stuff and I am surprised that the Chronicle would use such valuable space for such a simple, indiscreet, absurd, imprudent, scare propaganda. Every soul in the country, whether he acknowledges it or not, knows way down in his heart that the dictator is here now. He occupies the Executive chair and I mean he occupies it. He owns Congress and it does his bidding or else! He has a strangle hold on the Supreme Court and plans to tighten that hold until it, too, does his bidding. Even now right here in this small, insignificant community, every soul feels the power of the dictator. Every farmer who signs up is rewarded with a check. The man who does not—well it’s just too bad for him. This power reaches over every mountain, every plain, every sea and covers every American soul. There is no escape—no chance to escape from the shadow of the dictator. Look around men. Study the situation. The dictator is here and probably Mr. Dodd knows it by this time. Maybe the editor will use his blue pencil, but while he uses it he will know what I think about our national hazard. Since I wrote this I read in the papers that certain Senators have started a movement demanding the recall of Ambassador Dodd. Just shows the foolishness of trying to make a diplomat out of a school teacher, especially one already soaked in fascism.
The only time a public officer is the servant of the people is when he is seeking election. Soon as he is seated, he very soon assumes the role of master and dictator and readily informs the people what they may have and what they may not have. He often uses his position to pay political debts and personal grudges. When this occurs is the time when he should if a good sport, resign and allow some fair minded man with a desire to serve have the place.
The seventh grade was required prepare from their reading a history of Texas. On my desk is one of these histories. It was made by Betty Lashbrook. Her book is 10 inches by 12 inches by 2 inches. From first cover to last it is filled with colored pictures which gives a complete pictorial history of Texas from the first landing by a white man up to the present year. The six flags are there in colors and with descriptive matter describing when and where they were used. Page after page contains written and helpful statements by the author. The book tells a story of months of research—careful collecting—loving preparation. Betty says she has been collecting material for more than a year and the finished book bears out the statement. Betty must have had a plethora of patience. It is a remarkable Texas history and it is not possible for any person to do such work without becoming saturated with the history of Texas.
Tuesday I was the guest of the Collegeport Woman’s Club at their annual mother-daughter luncheon. Mrs. Hurd, as president, had charge of the affair and handled her part of the program with her usual perfection. This woman is carrying on—others follow—I hope some will stick. The writer was requested to say the Grace but because of his weakness and nervous condition was forced to give up. Each one present, mother or daughter, was called upon for an expression. Some simply said, “I am glad I have a mother.” Some said, “My mother was a Christian.” Others gave fine, splendid talks which were inspiring. The menu consisted of baby peas, potato salad, meat loaf, sandwiches, many kinds of cake and pies and ice tea. The meeting was held in Mopac House and all had opportunity to inspect the many books some of which being new.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, May
For several years I have indulged in an urge to once more visit that wonderful city known as San Antonio and dubbed by those who always try to mutilate good Spanish “Santone.” The opportunity came Friday when Frances Mayfield drove in and invited I and the miserable wretch to go with her so after long discussion we washed our puppies, cut off our whiskers, donned fresh garments, put a sandwich in our pocket, a bag of R. J. R. and away we went. This has been a week of excitement and I hardly am rested from one surprise until another bobs up. I shall have opportunity to attend service at St. Marks Sunday and see my kin folk and visit the new home of Miss Mayfield, who will supply the hay pile for me to snuggle in Friday night. I’ll have plenty to write about on my return so just read this over and wait for the big show with twenty county ‘em.
George Harrison brings us back next Tuesday so all seems jake.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot the most important. Jimmy goes along and he, being a good traveler and enjoys auto rides, will have a happy time. Just be patient and wait until next week.
The Matagorda County Tribune, Thursday, May
The County Federation of Women’s Club enters its 21st year of activity with its meeting at Collegeport, Friday, June 11, with twelve federated clubs in session for the 84th time. In those years there have been no progress for good that has not found its inception or been fostered by this group of women. Schools, churches, philanthropies, politics, social and home life have all received personal and financial benefit bountifully and freely. Every activity that tends to better humanity has found generous support in this organization at home and throughout the entire nation.
In honor of this 21st birthday the hostess club, the Collegeport Woman’s Club, which is the oldest federated club in the county, will give an informal reception at the home of the president, Mrs. Burton D. Hurd, and directed by the Fine Arts Committee of the federation. The social will be “Art at home” and will consist of exhibits of handiwork executed at home by club members for the comfort and beautification of home. Each federated club is asked to offer a display as a club and individuals are asked to exhibit groups as individuals, within their clubs. Prizes are to be given to the club and to the individual offering the best (not largest) group. One article from each member is sufficient and credits are to be added to the clubs having 100 per cent members displays.
Mrs. Dean D. Hurd, President, Matagorda County Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Palacios Beacon, May 27, 1937
Copyright 2009 -
Present by Bay City Newspapers, Inc.
Dec. 2, 2009
Dec. 2, 2009