It was a sunny but windy day when she was born. I do remember the doctor coming and he drove the same car he had driven when Leona came. The war wasn't over until later, and they didn't make any new cars for a few years as people were too busy making vehicles for the war in those factories. It was November llth 1944, which made me seven years old. I was eight the following June, and she wasn't but seven months then, and we lived at some property on a hill, the same place we lived when dad and I saw the couger. We didn't live there very long, and we made a move up to Brownwood, where grandpa and granny were, but mom really didn't like it and in a couple of months we moved back to Austin. That was where we lived until I was 11 years old and then we moved to Morgan Lane. When Sherry was a baby still we lived on Herogozs Lane down close to the Colorado River. We made the move the following year and I was taught to iron by mom that same year. It was eight and we ironed with an iron that was heated on the wood stove. It was kind of a funny iron and it was really hot and you could get burned if you didn't pay a lot of attention. I never did get burned that I can remember so I paid attention to mom. That wood stove was really something, it had a warming oven on the top and one down below, that mom cooked in. She made the best biscuts, cakes, cookies, and gingerbread in it. To this day I don't know how she controled it but she did. She canned hundreds of quarts of vegetables on that stove, and the reason Leona and I liked it so much was because it had a resovoir on the side that held water with a spigot that you could get hot water, we just had to fill it once a day unless we were all taking baths. The best thing we loved it for was we didn't have to heat water to do dishes ever again. By this time Sherry was a cute toddler, a little over a year. It seems that when dad moved, our relatives moved by us, so it wasn't long and Troy daddy's brother and his family moved across the street. Soon granny and grandpa moved next door and Uncle Carl another of dad's brothers, moved next to granny and grandpa. That same year at Christmas Leona and I got a red Flyer Wagon I don't remember what else we got, but I remember the wagon, because of the way we used it. I loved to do ironing and Sherry had a lot of cute dresses and hats to match, I think mom made them. Anyway I would iron the hats or bonnets as mom called them, snd mom would starch the brims really well. I would dress Sherry up in the little clothes that I had ironed and would pull her up and down the street, Leona would often push it. We had a lot of fun doing it, and she was the cutest baby ever and she belonged to us. She had the sweetest little cheeks, they were chubby and beautiful dark hair that was wavy. We loved showing her off, Leona was a cutie also, She had the prettiest white blond hair you ever saw. We loved her so very much and I will always remember having such fun going around the neighborhood with the wagon and my two little sisters. This is one of my foundest childhood memories.
We lived in an apartment when I was about 3 and half and before Leona was born. Above us there was an older lady, named Mrs. White and she must have had diabetes or some kind of chronic illness of some kind. I don't know, I know she would walk the floor at night and my mom would feel sorry for her. Mom always gave her soup and food she cooked, and she loved mom a lot. One morning we got up and mom answered the door and Mrs. White was there and she wanted mom and I to go with her to see the Barnum and Bailey Circus. So we went and it was the first circus I ever attended and I really loved it. I think we went by taxi, I don't remember for sure, but the whole thing was paid for by Mrs White. I had never seen a lion or a tiger, let alone one that jumped through hoops of fire. I saw an elephant, and lots of other animals. I really remember a woman with her hair flying behind her that rode a bunch of beautiful palimino horses and stood up on one and stepped on another and rode around a ring. It was beautiful! There were lots of other things, but one of the best things I did that day was to eat hot roasted peanuts in a shell. We also had cotton candy which I thought was yummy!! This was one of my wonderful memories of my mom, I thought she was so beautiful that day, she had on a pair of navy slacks and a top that matched. She had set her hair and looked so pretty in her white shoes and red lipstick. This all happened and I know it is hard for you to believe I could remember this at 3, but we moved out by granny's house in the late fall of that year and Leona was born in August of the following year. I am 4 years older than my sister, so it really is a good memory that I have. I don't recall a lot of things but the circus is one I will never forget.
I was around eight years old when this adventure happened, and we lived up on the hill at Spicewood Springs. Dad had a few hounds he used for hunting, among them was a Beagle that was named Shorty, one of the many shorty hounds he had. He always called the Beagles Shorty or Short Stuff as they had short legs. I had a small dog I called Skippy and he was a little bit of all breeds and had funny ears and long hair that was sandy colored. He acted tough but he really was afraid of his own shadow. Late one night dad called us out on the porch to let us listen to the cougar howling up in the woods. This cougar had been in peoples barns and had killed some small farm animals. He was howling pretty loud that evening. Skippy ran off into the house with his tail under his tummy whining. I listened for awhile and then I went into the house to go to bed. The next evening about supper time dad came in the house and said Sister we need to go down into the hollow and see if we can find one of the cows, she seems to be mooing down there. She was about a quarter of a mile or so from the house. He took Shorty with him and I took Skippy and both dogs were prancing along and we were walking and then Dad said be still and the next thing I know Shorty goes running over to the tree, and set up barking and barking, Skippy stayed right by me and the hair on his back was really ruffled up and his ears were standing up. The cow was caught fast in a bunch of dew berry vines and some under brush. Dad and I went over there and started to pull her out of the briar's and get her free so she would quit bellering and mooing. Old Shorty really set up howling and trying to get up into the tree. Dad said to me I think that the cougar is up in that tree. We got the cow out and dad said we should start hi-stepping it for home, and about that time I guess skippy had enough, all of his hair stood up on his back and he stuck his tail up under his belly and he hightailed it towards home. We had the time of our life getting things set up so we could get home as fast as possible and not disturb the cougar setting up in the tree that Shorty was barking at. Dad didn't want to turn his back on it although we couldn't see it we could hear it rustling around. We finally got the stupid cow out of the briar's and dad hit her on the rump and set her going towards the house. Dad called the Beagle and we started to step as fast as we could for the house. Dad said that the cougar thought he would get an easy meal as the cow was caught in the briar's and wouldn't be able to defend herself. Fortunately for us she had a big moo and let us know that she was hung up and it was daylight so we could get her out. Several days later some farmers got the cougar and shot him. I was happy he was gone as Mom wouldn't let us out to play much with him stalking animals she said you never could be sure he wouldn't stalk us. Dad said the cougar was too afraid to come that close to the house, but it didn't matter to mama she just said we couldn't go out into the woods in the back of the house and that was that!
When we still lived up the lane from granny, my dad was drafted into the Army. In those days they had the draft and if your card was called you went, by that time I think Sherry was a baby. I was around 6 or 6 and a half, when he left, and I hated to have him go. He only went to Lackland in San Antonio, TX but it seemed a long way to me and he had basic there and we couldn't see him at all. It was about this time when everything got rationed. Meaning you needed to have a stamp for a lot of things, and you only got so many stamps. We did alright, as my grandma Knapp mom's mother gave us a lot of hers, as she and James Edward mom's little brother didn't need as many as we did. But meat and sugar was in short supply, so mom raised chickens and we had lots of eggs and we ate them and mom sold a few. We also ate the chickens that didn't lay, mom would kill and dress them when she wanted to cook one. Dad had butchered a hog that winter also so we didn't need a lot of meat. We couldn't can jam as sugar was in such short supply and shoes were hard to come by, and my mom quit wearing nylons as they were rationed. So the chicken were very important to mama, and she took great care of them, so we had them to eat and so she could sell the extra eggs. We had a cow and a goat so we had butter and lots of milk. I got to churn the butter in a large churn with a paddle that fit into it that had an X on the bottom so the butter could be separated. I really loved to churn the cream. One morning early just as we were all getting up, Mama went out to gather the eggs and the next thing I knew she was in the closet trying to find Dad's 12 gage shot gun. She loaded it and told me to keep Leona and Sherry and she went back out to the chicken coop. I started to watch what she was doing out the little window in the kitchen, now mama only weighed about 98 lbs soaking wet, and she was a little over 5 feet. The next thing she did was aim that gun into the tree hollow and shot it. Each time she shot she fell on her fanny and she was swearing at something up in the old oak tree. It was funny and there was a lot of noise from the scared chickens and the gun and mom swearing a blue streak. The next thing I saw after about 5 shots and every animal in the shed was mooing or baa hing or cock a doddle doing. The commotions was so loud I think they heard it in the next county. Uncle Carl Dad's brother was down at Grannie's and so he came up to see what was going on. When he ran up my mom had just shot the gun for the 5Th time and was down on the ground on her fanny. Carl says" Sis what are you trying to do"? My mom let out a long bunch of words and said she was trying to kill the chicken snake that was up there in the hole of the tree. Now this was the first time I knew what had happened, Mom found a chicken snake in the chicken coop with a bunch of knots in him, where he had swallowed the baby chicken whole. Chicken snakes or all snakes for that matter only eat every once in awhile and so I guess the chicken snake which looks like a rattler, except his head is flat and round, not triangular like a rattler. But the color is the same. Uncle Carl picked mom up off the ground and told her to put the gun away and he'd get the snake for her. Mama said when she got back into the house, that the chicken snake had swallowed 4 baby chickens when she found him with the hen trying to protect what was left of her brood. Mom tried to get him with the shovel, or the hoe , and the snake slipped away before she could get him. He ran into the tree, and that is when she came in the house and got the shot gun. That was the maddest I had ever seen my little mother and she waited on the back porch while uncle Carl got him out of the tree hole and killed him with a hoe. She was jumping up and down when Carl finally got him. She put him out on the fence for awhile to scare any other chicken snakes away if they got a hunger for her chickens. I really loved my courageous mama and her bravery when it came to anything that she was supposed to protect, be it chickens or children.
I was about 8 years old when we moved from the house at Spicewood Springs to a house much closer to the pool we swam in and my new friend Ruthie Myrick just my age. She had 2 little brothers, called Sonny the older about 7 and Pud about 5, they always tagged along behind us and we were always trying to run away from them. Mom wouldn't let Leona run with us she was Pud's age, but I think mom was a little more protective of Leona. Ruthie said there was a big cave behind her property and wanted me to go there with her. She said there were lots of coach whips down in the cave. Coach whips were black snakes that ran on their tails and chased people or so we heard we didn't know what the snakes did to you if they caught you. I don't know what possessed us but we went down there. If mama would've known where we were going that day she would've stopped us. Mom always said God watched out for old fools and little children and I know He was watching that day. The cave turned out to be a big pit in the ground and it was dirt on our side and a cliff of rocks on the back side. We gathered a bunch of rocks down there and before you could shake a stick snakes started to crawl from the rocks on the back side and from under the rocks on the floor of it, there were a lot of them, all kinds, they hissed and jumped at us. We threw more rocks and sticks and what ever we could find. After awhile the snakes became pretty angry and started to coil up and jump at us. We got pretty scared and started to run, and by golly a couple had jumped from the pit and started to chase us, we kept looking back to see if they were upon their tails, No such luck we continued to run and went as fast as we could through the corn field and made it to Ruthie's back yard so out of breath that mama came out and wanted to know why we were running in the heat???? I had lost my bonnet in the race and she told me to go back and find it but I didn't go then, I told her we would go and look for it later when we were rested. She made us sit in the shade under the tree and drink some water. Much later in the evening when the sun went down we walked down the field and found my bonnet in the corn patch. I NEVER did go down there again, I was too afraid and I never told my mom what we had done that day. In fact I think this is the first time that I really told this story and told all of it.
The first time I realized that there was such a thing as Valentines Day, I was in the first grade and my teacher made the most beautiful Valentines box for our class. I knew nothing about it and I went home all excited to give valentines cards to my friends. Now in those days we couldn't buy cards as we can today, they were few and far between. The ones that were available were for lovers and such. Nothing for school chums. So my dad of all people brought home glue, red construction paper and paper dollies,ribbons and with a couple of pair of scissors, he proceeded to show me how to glue and cut the cards. We even made one for our teacher. I thought I was pretty special, and that the cards were beautiful. We made one for everyone in the class. We had cookies and some kind of punch, and I thought it was a really special day. The best and most wonderful thing was all of the Valentines that I made with my daddy. What a wonderful memory, the night coming on and the lamps burning as we had no electricity at that time. I also got to stay up late because we worked on the cards and the whole thing was so wonderful in my 6 year old eyes.
When I was around 5 or 6 dad and Uncle Delbert(mom's brother) were out in the side yard playing Delbert played the guitar and dad played the fiddle. It was a warm evening and pleasant under the trees, we all sat around listening to music, and I sang a couple of songs with dad. Now I had a pet goat at that time and he was tied up there by us to a tree. After an hour or so I got bored and started to run between Dad and uncle Delbert, the goat started to baa a little and then kinda of a lot. Now my dad wasn't known for his patience at times, but I was never afraid of him. That night he got tired of the goat bellering and me running in front of him and he couldn't see Delbert. So he said to me "Janell if you don't stop running in front of me I'm going to hit you on the head with my fiddle bow." Now I knew he'd never do it so I said back to him " yeah and you'll break your fiddle bow too." But I went and set down for awhile. Now the goat just kept stomping at the ground, and baa baa at me and I went over to settle him down a few times. Later that evening when we went to take the chairs back into the house dad found a rattlesnake coiled up under the one that was next to the goat, and that was why the goat was so unsettled and I guess no one sat in that chair, as mom and Leona had gone into the house earlier and I guess the snake crawled under there and coiled up ready to strike if someone had of sat there. Only the goat knew he was there and because the goat made so much ruckus I think the snake just sat under the chair. My dad killed the snake and he told mom that we wouldn't be sitting out under the trees anymore in the evening, but would play in the house in the summer. They would sometimes play on the porch after that. There were a lot of rattle snakes on the property where we lived at that time, it has now become a really expensive property and the lots at Spicewood Springs sell for 200.000 thousand or more. When we lived there it was really primitive and had lots of scrub cedar and oak on the land.