MARY BETH (EATHERLY) RICHMOND


This Little town we call “Home”

Local Levelland residents probably started using memories that will last forever.  This Little town we call “Home”

There were dirt streets, one stop sign and few stores when we moved to this little town named Levelland from the lush, green foliage of East Texas in 1942. My mother cried a lot that first year and wished for roses in bloom and raindrops that didn’t come. Black gold had brought us to West Texas where the oil discovery had started a boom and times were about to change.

West Texas was where cotton grew. Field after field of white blobs bobbing in the wind stretched for miles. The cotton pickers from Mexico were trucked in and the little shanties they lived in kept them from the cold of winter and when the cotton was ginned they returned to their native country with a jingle in their pockets.
There were no restrictions or air control, so as the ginning season began and smoke and dust filled the air our eyes watered and our allergies ran rampant; we suffered until the season was over. Good crops meant good times for the banks, and the farmers and they were happy and so were we.

Our town was small and friendly. No locked doors and children played freely in the yard until dusk when dinner was called and night began. We all knew each other and cared for each other. Activities revolved around church and choir practice. There was no television and only a telephone that we shared with someone else which taught us courtesy and sometimes patience.

The only movie in town cost 25 cents and popcorn was 10 cents. How fun it was to spend Saturday afternoon at the movie and imagine the things we were seeing on the screen as real. It was our first exposure to visual optics and we took it in with gusto!

We had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and cream gravy at least once a week and fried okra when in season.

I don’t remember much about people being on a diet or even being sick or going to the doctor. If there was an illness or death in the family, our moms were busy preparing food to take to feed the family. No emphasis on vitamins or drinking bottled water. Life was so uncomplicated and full of love and concern for our fellowman.

Most families had one car and Dad used that for work and you walked wherever you had to go until he returned.

High School was exciting as we got into the new building with two levels. What fun it was and how grown up we felt as we learned to drive our first car under the direction of our beloved and fun teacher, Sam Hollis. We had our first dates and began to work at Piggly Wiggly after school for the first time. Of course, most of us already knew that earning money was important by baby sitting or doing yards which had been the norm since we were nine or ten years old. None of us “expected” anything from our parents. We were part of a unit called “family” which was honored as sacred and we were taught values which remain with us today.

If we were to achieve anything in life we knew we had to go to school, study hard and maybe by some grace of God, there might be money enough to go to college.

The sandstorms were unpredictable and vicious. Many times happening in the middle of the day which caused the sky to be dark as night and the street lights would come on. My mother would wet towels and roll them up to place against the windows to keep the sand out. The plowed fields ready for crops and no irrigation made the dirt easy to stir, and the winds whipped and the winds howled and we made the best of it because this was home and this was where we had been planted; this was where we would bloom.

Our little town didn’t like change and I remember a new home with new architectural features being built by one of the two doctors in town, Dr. Dupree. There was much whispering going around town about the new and different structure, and one day without much warning a sign went up in the yard saying, “We don’t like your house either!” It gave the whole town a chuckle and something else to talk about!

There’s much to be said for growing up in a small town. You definitely don’t do things you wouldn’t want discussed at the local Chit & Chat over coffee the next day. Our parents knew where we were at all times; we didn’t do things we shouldn’t because someone was sure to see and tell! So it simplified our lives and made us who we are today.

We had more than sand grit in our teeth, we had a determination to succeed, if for no other reason than to make our parents proud. We were proud of our heritage and had a value system instilled that made us want to help others less fortunate and to give something back to the world. We were taught to be grateful that we were born in America. We felt something in our hearts as we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag which started each new day at school and pride rose within us as we sang, “God bless America!”

We are still proud to say that we are Christian and that we pray and believe in God and believe in the Ten Commandments and try to live by the golden rule. Among our most treasured memories are the ones we hold from growing up in this little town on the South Plains of Texas. This little town that gave us so much; this little town that we still call, “Home”.
 

Written by Mary Beth (Eatherly) Richmond - LHS, 1953

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