THE OLDER we get the more we have a tendency to reflect on the “good old days.” No matter who you are, those good old days were tough to get through at the time. But, looking back it was the best of times and the end result makes the struggle all the better.
Naturally, in Kilgore it seems to be based on something that happened around the oilfield.
For Martha Smith, what brings a smile to her face is the fact she was born in Kilgore with the help of Dr. Allen to parents Wes and Lucille (McKeller) Smith. Her father worked for and retired after 40 years from Magnolia Oilfield.
“I started to school in Sabine where I attended until the 7th grade,” said Martha.
The family actually lived on the John Radford Well lease located on Peavine Road just a “hop, skip and a jump” from Tiny Fallen’s Grocery according to Martha.
“Sleeping was hard if they had to shut a well down,” she said. “My dad was especially susceptible as he had to get up and go help with the well.”
“Daddy built the house we lived in, adding two rooms as we went along. I had a bed in with Mom and Dad until the rooms were built. Neal Griffin stayed in the other bedroom until he graduated from high school. That’s just how it was done back then. He needed a place to stay and they furnished it. Part of the front porch was turned into the bathroom. We were fortunate to have our own water well,” she continued. “Mother always raised chickens and we could expect fried chicken every Sunday. She did raise rabbits one year; always for food.”
“In the fall, I was the one to pick blackberries, muscadines and chickapens for jelly and gather the eggs from two nests we had in the back of the garage. I learned in a hurry how to watch for snakes. That was good old country living. In July of 1952 we moved to another lease in the Spring Hill area. Dad moved with the oilfield.”
Martha married at an early age and had two children. One is deceased while the other, a daughter, lives in Florida. Martha has four grandchildren, two of whom live in Texas. She ended up living in and around New Orleans.
“When Hurricane Katrina came through in 2005, I lost everything,” said Martha. “I made it to Houma, Louisiana, where my son-in-law flew in and met me. He picked up 3 of us and dropped the other 2 off along the way back their home in Homestead, Florida.”
“I worked about 10 weeks for the Florida Workforce,” she said. “I made good money and managed to save up to buy a little car. I came back to Kilgore when my mother died. It was there I met up with distant cousins Martha Spinks and Opal Stewart. One of my old school teachers with the same name as mine offered to help me move back. I ended up staying through Christmas and New Year’s and saw an ad in the paper for a fully furnished place to rent owned by Mrs. Carpenter. She told me to bring my car and come on.
She laughs, "Here I am. I just never thought I would end back up in Kilgore and making the most of every minute."
Martha is a cancer survivor and continues to work at every opportunity that passes her way. She worked 2010 census and looks forward to working the next one.
“As long as I am still kicking,” she said. “I will be doing something.”
She is a long-time member of First Baptist Church of Kilgore and is a member of the PrimeTimers. Country living and being raised in the East Texas Oilfields can’t be beat for this gal.
ANOTHER CIRCLE filled recently was a gift of a framed concert poster once thought forever lost. The poster was of a 1963 concert held by The Ware Sisters.
“I was 17 at the time,” said Judy Hanks. “And the concert was held at the Kilgore College on Valentine’s Day. The posters advertised the event and KC President Kyle Bates had a significant hand in the organization of the concert. We were all dressed in red and white and even Joy who was only four years old at the time even came out and pantomimed with us. At any rate, the posters disappeared and we stayed so busy with other performances, we forgot all about them.
“In 2001, my daughter, Julie was going down the streets in Jefferson and spied one through the window of one of the shops. The family had lived in Ore City at the time of the concert and moved to Jefferson. Julie was so excited when she called to let me know what she had found and was bringing it to me. I put it up on a shelf and smooth forgot about it until recently when it was re-discovered. Now, I have made copies and framed them for all of my sisters. That poster has just brought back so many precious memories."
The Ware Sisters included Judy, Jan, Jean, Janie and Joy. Jan recently passed away, but not before receiving her poster. All in God’s timing; may she rest in peace.
May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Home Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-984-2593.