F C Montgomery
Grandson of Emory Rains
Submitted by Elaine Nall Bay


Rains County Leader
Oct 28, 1965

"I've lived from the day of the ox wagon to the jet airplane." So spoke F.C. Montgomery of Point, affectionately known to his neighbors and host of friends as "Mr. Cawood". He was sitting on his front porch, reminiscing before his ninetieth birthday. Mr. Cawood, only living grandchild of Emory Rains, fourth son of Catherine Rains and Fan Montgomery, was born October 21, 1875, in a log cabin about 3/4 of a mile from the old Montgomery homeplace, still standing east of Point. "My entire life has been spent within a radius of about 3 miles from my birthplace. As far as I know I've lived longer than any member of my family on either side," said this native of Rains County. His work has found expression in business, but his heart has found fulfillment in the writing of poetry. Drawing on his rich heritage and love for the homey things, he writes with sentiment and imagery of any subject which touches his feelings. Family, friends, animals, the farms, nature, contentment, "My Mother's Old Shoes", the seasons:
"On summer night I have viewed the flickering stars
Glistening like jewels in a kingly corwn.
And the moon's silver beam was as sweet as a dream,
When the sun with its gold went down."
Among his two published books of poetry and the prepared manuscript for a third, humorous verse pops out:
"I like my cabbage boiled down or fried,
My mustard greens the same,
Lettuce with hot grease I've tried,
And onions wild and tame
I'm foolish about my turnip greens,
With hog jaw simmering low,
But the Poke salad is the sweetest dream
Of all the greens that grow."

"I remember the first poem I ever wrote," he told me. "I was a student in Henry College at Campbell. My mother had recently been buried in Lone Star Cemetery. Bereft over my great loss, my grief found outlet in:

"On the slope of the hill
Where it is quiet and still
And a little brook winds its way
Are the graves of the dead
Their spirits gone ahead
And their bodies lie moldering in the clay."

As a young man he taught school for 4 terms at Center Point. "At $40 per month," he added. Later, he farmed, cut wood, made ties, operated a cotton gin and in 1913 organized the Guaranty State Bank, which later became the First State Bank of Point. His youngest brother, Jim, was the first cashier. Mr. Cawood has maintained unbroken connection with the bank for 52 years. During this time, not only has he helped people with their financial problems, but with personal ones as well, dispensing wisdom gained through years of living. With insight he counseled those asking his help, lately from his bank-lobby rocking chair. One he remarked to me, "I love every tree, bush and shrub in Rains County."
"I love the trees and the shade they cast
When Spring blooms with its green,
These same trees I love when winter's blast,
And the limbs with snow flakes gleam.
I love to watch the grazing herds,
And the tossing waves out on the sea,
It is sweet to hear the singing birds,
But most of all I love a tree."

Naturally the question came out, "Why did you never move from Rains County? Surely you had opportunities to live and work in other places."
"Oh, yes," he answered with a musing look. "Several years ago I made a trip to Crosby County to help my daddy build a gin and start it operating. He tried to get me to move there and buy land for sale at $5 an acre. If I had bought the land, I suppose I would have been a millionarie now. But I had wanted to come back to Rains County where I could look up and see trees and hear the birds sing."
"Who gave the Lark his yellow breast,
The Cardinal his robe of red,
Where did the Bob White get his crest,
And the Scissor Tail his spread?
Who painted the feather of the Jay,
Like the blue of a Summer sky,
Some artist planned the Dove in gray
With the song of a sadden cry.
The Mocking birds when roses bloom,
Sing from their perch on high,
And the Whipporwills from a wooded gloom,
To the Hoot Owl's hoot reply.

The south wind blew gently upon us. From the glider I said, "You must have witnessed many changes in the county during your lifetime."
"I surely have. I remember when the railroad was built about 1883. The track was laid about 3/4 of a mile past our house. I watched the first locomotive come puffing through, following the track-layers. Of course the railroad has been replaced by highways. My parents, my brothers, my sister and I often travelled on the train."
"We made a trip to the State Fair the first year it opened. To a country boy the sights were amazing! There was a Mexican band and a jewelry exhibit by Joseph Linz, then of Sherman, from whom my daddy bought a gold watch. Somewhere on the rounds we caught the measles and were later real sick, but the trip was worth it. For drama and excitement nothing equalled flagging down and boarding the train!"
"In my early days this was cattle country, then it turned to cotton and ccorn. Now it's cattle country again. There are changes in people too. CHildren used to go to camp meetings with their parents. Now children go places where their parents don't often know where they are. I think people generally are as honest and friendly now as they were then."
"You said you lived from the days of the ox wagon. Did you ever take a trip in a covered wagon?"
"Indeed we did, to Jacksboro, one summer to visit our cousin, Bud Rains. We five older children rode in the covered wagon and mother and father went by buggy. My brother, Jim, being the baby, got to ride with them. The team was driven by my brother, Winston. As the oldest he was delegated authority to keep us in line. And I remember there were many altercations as we bumped along. We forded the Trinity River, stopped on the bank and made coffee over a campfire out of river water."
"It's a stock question, I began, "but to what do you attribute your long life, your many years of living?"
"I had long-life ancestors. Al my grandparents lived into their eighties except Grandpa Rains. He died at 78. Then I've followed regular habits, stayed away from excesses. Besides I've had a light-hearted spirit, been able to see the funny side of life, laughed at things, and sometimes at myself. For entertainment as a young fellow, how I did like to square dance! I could swing my partner to do-si-do as high and long as the best of them."
"So throughout the night, it was sway and sing,
To the cry of the fiddle, with a catgut string.
The sweetest memory my mind can store,
Was dancers beating melody on the farmhouse floor."

"If you had 90 years to live over, would you make any changes?" "I don't think I would. I've tried to treat everybody in the same way I'd like to be treated. I've known joy and I've felt sorrow but that's life."
Looking at his unwrinkled face, erect shoulders, listening to his undimmed mental recounting, remembering the prized Christmas cards in original verse, written in his beautiful Spencerian script, we knew that living for him was and is a rich experience.
In April of this year, Mr. Cawood was in an automobile accident, resulting in a broken leg which kept him hospitalized for several weeks. He is now back in his home and found in his familiar place in the bank. "In time to come," he said, "I will walk without aids." And knowing the determination of his spirit, we do not doubt it.
Salutations, congratulations, F.C.M. on your 90th birthday from this writer, other relatives and your many friends. Out of your "heap of living", you say it best:
"Live while you live,
This often has been said,
Live and forgive,
For you are a long time dead.
There are doubts and fears,
There are sorrows and tears,
These we accept and we give
But hold this in mind,
That you will always find
It is good to live while you live.'
---by Catherina Mann

Back   Home