Uncle Joe Aunt Myrtle

When my parents died, my Uncle Joe and Aunt Myrtle took Perry--he was three months old at the time-as one of their own children. They did not adopt him, but took him to raise, and little did I know that when I was 11 years old, I would also be living with them.

Rumor was that my grandmother did not have long to live, and people began to wonder who was going to take [hesitates] . . . Willis.

Nobody really volunteered to take me, and uh, I guess everybody drew straws. My Uncle Joe lost, and he came up from Houston to pick me up.

Before my grandmother died, she was sick, and my uncle took me to Houston before she died. After she died, I did not go to the funeral, because they did not go back to Bowie for her funeral.

But I never will forget the long journey from Bowie to Houston. And how sad people in the car were that they were picking me up to live with them. But it wasn't their choice at that time.

I lived with Uncle Joe and Aunt Myrtle, and went to [Milby] high school there. I graduated from high school with honors. And my Aunt Myrtle got sick and couldn't do anything, so I kept the house and did the cooking, and so forth and so on.

My uncle and aunt had four children: Ernest, Leota, Irma Lee, and Billie Jean. And they were taking care of my brother, Perry, and then me. So, that made six of us living in this little, itty-bitty house.

My uncle was making $10 a week walking pipeline for the Houston Pipeline Company. And back in those days, again, it was a real deep depression. So $10 was a lot of money, because millions and millions of people didn't have any money at all.

My aunt did the washing in an old iron tub. She put wood underneath it to boil the water, and made her own soap from lye and grease and stuff. She boiled the clothes, and used a broomstick to take the clothes out of the boiling water. And I used to help her.

Every once and awhile, she would get mad and hit me with the stick she was supposed to use to take the clothes out of the pot with. She did that about a couple of times, so one day I grabbed the stick and broke it in two, and told her never, never to do it again or otherwise she'd be sorry.

And she never, ever hit me again [sighs]. And later on she apologized and said she didn't really mean to hit me, but she would just lose her temper.

After I graduated from high school, I told my aunt and uncle I'd stay one more year with them, to take care of the house and family, and to help her with her work and all this stuff, to repay them for all they'd done for me. But after one year, I was leaving because I had my own life to live--and I certainly did not want to live it in Houston. I would disappear.

And sure enough, after one year's time, well, I told them I was leaving. I saved up $10 and packed what few little packages of clothing I had and answered an ad in the paper that said they wanted drivers and $10 to go to California—to help drive and help pay for some of the food. I met with the people, I think it was about in June, and we headed for California. He took my $10, and I had another $5 in my pocket for food, and we headed for California.

0 0

Post a comment