Tag Archives: Texas history

My Grandfather’s Words: Friday and Saturday, July 12, 13, 1918

Editors Note: I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch for a few weeks. I’ve posted two entries from my grandfather’s journal to make up for it.

Friday

Weather was hot both this A.M and this P.M. I thought with the dark clouds there would be rain, but it was a dust storm.

Breakfast was liver & onions, bread, fried spuds. Lunch was cold roast beef, sliced potatoes with gravy, bread, water, and applesauce. For supper we ate bread, water, potatoes, meat, and gravy. I bought two sticks of candy.

Up at 6:10. Bathed and dressed by 6:20 reveille. The usual A.M. routine. Some of the men were told off last night to help load horses this morning. They had to rise at 4:20. They loaded out 260 head. Don’t know where they went. The top Sargent went along. I was informed by on the the Vet Corps men some time ago that there were about 11,000 horses and cows here. Several have been sent out since, & I suppose that there are around 900 or 1,000 here now. One of the horses was killed this evening. The men were driving a bunch into the 9th corral. This one slipped and fell and broke a leg. They had to put it down.

I don’t know much other news to set down tonight. I had a letter from Mary Dear written on Tuesday just before she had the operation. I had another letter from James written the day after the operation. Honey had tried to start the second letter but was too weak, so James finished it for her. She was at O’Neils. James had taken her there from the doctor’s office. She was in as satisfactory a condition as could be hoped for at that time. My dear girl. God keep her & take care of her for Jesus’s sake. Amen.

Saturday

Weather: A warm light rain this A.M.

Breakfast was hot cakes with syrup, coffee, a banana & cornflakes. For lunch we had bread, beans, cocoa, & tapioca pudding. For supper we had bread, water, spagetti with mean and apple cobbler.

I was up at usual time, bathed and dressed as per my usual routine. Worked in A & B & 6th corral today. We quit about 4 P.M. I had a hair cut. After mess, Ralph & I went to town. Hiked in and bame back on the car. I was looking for a furnished rooms. I was trying to get the lay of this end of town. Had a letter from Honey Girl written the next A.M. after she had her operation. She sat up in bed & wrote & and was feeling fairly good but weak. Aunt Frances was going to fix her something to drink, some kind of broth. I expect that would strengthen her.scan0039camp-macarthur.preview

My Grandfather’s Words: Friday July 5, 1918

Weather: Hot. Fair.

Breakfast was meat loaf, bread, fried spuds, and juice. For dinner we had beans, tomatoes, water, bread, beef, and onions. For supper we had bread, water, and cornstarch pudding.

A usual day…up at 6, a cold shower & dressed by 6:30. Reveille & breakfast & work as usual. Two letters at noon. One from Mary Dear & one from Mother. Mary will have her tonsils taken out tomorrow at 1:10. I am worrying, more or less. Yet I know she is in God’s hand. He will take care of her. Mother & the boys are well. They expected to stay home on the 4th, but they may go to Marshall, she thought.

Ben never writes to me. I guess he does not care for my telling him of the Lord Jesus. I surely wish he were saved or that I could make him see his need of a Savior.

I don’t know much else to write tonight. Just finished a letter to Mary so will go to my bunk. 9:45 P.M.

My Grandfather’s Words: Wednesday July 3, 1918

Breakfast was coffee, bread, fried spuds, cornflakes and milk. Dinner (lunch) was boiled cabbage, potatoes, bread, and cold coffee. Supper was water with coffee and cocoa in it, jam, bread, rice pudding, and potatoes.

Weather was cool in the A.M and hot in the P.M.

Nothing much to record. Usual work in the corrals, I pushed the water cart around in the mess hall. Pretty easy job for me. Top people read orders at Retreat giving all who could be spared a holiday tomorrow – July 4.

hollopeter-back-of-army-horse-corrals-2I wrote Honey Girl this A.M. and again at noon. One doesn’t have so very much time, what with Reveille, and Retreat.

Ralph Evans borrowed a camera & him & I are going in halves on exposing the film.

My Grandfather’s Words: Monday July 1st, and Tuesday July 2, 1918

From Rebecca: Yes, the above is the correct date for the very next entry I found in the diary. You haven’t missed anything. All this time, the diary has been from memory. I wondered why he never mentioned what he ate, just that he’d eaten. Now, fast forward a month.

Monday: I don’t recall anything that occurred today out of the ordinary routine. I bought this book Saturday evening, but did not start my diary until Tuesday. I will have to fill in the back days from memory.

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This was purchased in Waco, TX

Tuesday: Weather cooler today, cloudy nearly all day.

Breakfast consisted of coffee, fried potatoes, bread, oatmeal, liver & onions. I did not eat of the oatmeal.

Dinner (lunch) was pretty good. Cocoa, or rather, cold water with enough cocoa in to color it, roast pork, bread, potatoes, peas, a kind of dessert made with the oatmeal left from breakfast with raspberries added to it – tasted pretty good.

Supper was water, cheese, bread, and a kind of stew of liver, onions, & tomatoes.

I had water cart job again today. It is pretty easy on me especially days like this, cool & cloudy. I worked hard yesterday P.M. for awhile. It was 108 here at the barracks. That is getting pretty hot. We were paid this P.M. I got $11.95 my first pay day. Mary Dear received $20.00 in June for May. She will received $30.00 soon for her June allotment. I wrote mother tonight & must write Honey Girl yet.

Had a letter from her today. She is feeling better again. Her tonsils are not so sore. Many of the men went to town tonight to spend their pay – having a good time, they call it. Maybe they do, but for me it is a lonesome town. There are ways that are particular to northern people among the people here, too. One has to get used to them & to their odd speech & ways.

My Grandfather’s Words: Thursday May 16, 1918

About the first thing we done this A.M. was to get a suit of unionalls apiece. These are a one-piece work outfit. Then, they set us to work at pulling the weeds, the grass, and picking all the trash out of our Company Street. We were told that that was policing up, and we had to do a very thorough job of it. In other words, pull that grass out by the roots. It seems to be against military law to have a weed or a blade of grass grow around the quarters.

The didn’t give us any other exercise or drills the rest of the day.

hollopeter-army-horse-corrals-1I have not heard from Dearest since I left her in Waterloo. I write every day. I am so very homesick and lonely that I pray for death many times. It’s as if Satan is tempting me. I think of it as the boil of self-destruction. It hurts.

Sometimes I cry at night when it seems my loneliness is more than I can bear. I pray and cry and then feel comforted somewhat. God keeps me from sinking too deep. Though I get terribly discouraged at times, yet I can thank Him for keeping me thus far. At other times, I think were it not for the thought of my dear wife, I don’t know what would become of me.

The heat bothers me a great deal, too.

Altogether, I am in a rather poor state.

My Grandfather’s Words: Wednesday May 15, 1918 Part B

Our tent was in a row about 30 to 35 rods long and there were thirty four tents in it. (A rod is a measurement that was commonly used by farmers in those days. A rod is 16.5′.) At the head of the company street was the mess hall and kitchen. It was quite a long building. At one end was the kitchen and a kind of counter where they dished up the food and placed it on each mess plate as we passed by in line. The main part of the building was given up to two long board tables with stationary benches built on each side. It could seat almost the whole company at once.

At the other end of company street there was the company bath house, a frame building with board floors and open drains behind it to carry out the waste. Continue reading My Grandfather’s Words: Wednesday May 15, 1918 Part B

A bit of my History in Pictures

It has come to my attention as I was selling and signing books at the Menil Fest today that I have failed to write any blogs for a very long time. It’s easy to rely on re-posting or re-blogging information that is sent to me. Add to that my daughter’s wedding and all that goes with it, I’ve been a busy monkey these past few months. I get lazy about posting.

So I thought, why not give you a few pictures of my father’s childhood home and my grandparent’s life.

My father was born in October of 1925 in Capetown, South Africa.

Now, if you knew my father you would never have guessed that he was born anywhere but Texas. You would never know that his father spoke with a Scottish accent and his mother spoke with a German accent, because all Robbie Thompson sounded like was a Texan through and through. His drawl was long, and like any true Texan, he never met a stranger, and he drank coffee with everything.

His mother, my Nannie, once told me that she could see Table-top mountain from her hospital window when she was giving birth to him. Here’s a picture of my father’s father when he was a tot. He was younger than two here. His brother and sister are in the picture. I met his sister when I was a child. She came to visit us. I remember she was very proper sounding.3821156377_d8087a04ba_m

My great grandfather was a hotelier in Durban, SA. When my grandfather was born in Glasgow, Scotland, his father took the rest of the family and went by wooden ship to Durban, leaving my grandfather and his mom in Glasgow until he was two at which time they took another ship and went to Durban. Here’s a picture of my grandfather’s parents:3821158323_55cb36484a

My grandfather was a preacher for the government of S.A. He was assigned to provide protestant services to the Rangers at the ranger stations.Here’s a picture of him working in a native hut:3821157683_74f18db8aa

He and my grandmother were allowed to live in a caboose kitted out like a home. Here’s a picture:

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The caboose was attached to the train and pulled to a ranger station and left on a side line. The train would travel all the way around the country of S. A. until they came back to that station. The caboose was reattached and taken to the next ranger station and so on. This went on for ten years. My father was born in 1925 and my aunt was born in 1928. My father lived on the caboose for seven years. Here’s a picture of my father and my aunt Ruth:

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Here’s a picture of my grandfather, grandmother, father and Ruth:3821152965_ba91935106_s

Here’s another picture: 3821160793_4e6828c357My grandmother was born in Weimar, TX. Even though she lived in S. A. she always loved Texas best of all. She could travel anywhere in the world and she always wanted to come home to Texas more than anything else. She was German. You probably know that there is a huge population of Germans and Czechoslovakian here in Texas. Galveston was second to Ellis Island for taking in immigrants. In the late 1800’s there were a lot of Slavic and Baltic people coming to the U.S. My grandmother’s parents were from Prussia. She was a first generation American.

She did not speak English until first grade. But after WWII she would not admit to knowing German, she was ashamed of what happened in Germany. But when I was a very small child she sang lullabies to us in German. I guess she thought we would never remember them, but I do.

The Weather in Houston

The weather in Houston can and usually does change drastically from day-to-day. Today, it was a balmy 65 degrees F. Tomorrow it is supposed to be freezing. This is nothing new for H-town.

We I was a child one thing stands out about the Christmas it was 80 degrees F. It stands out because I remember wanting to stay outside because it was so hot inside. My father insisted on lighting a fire in the fireplace, and keeping it blazing. It was Christmas, he said. He wanted the fire roaring.

Although I was a very small child I remember being so frightened about Hurricane Carla. My mother had just had my baby brother and my father was at work. She made my brother Jon and I come in from playing although the weather outside was great. We didn’t want to come in. But the tone of her voice was enough to bring us running. It wasn’t long before the wind began. What a wind! Over 145 MPH it pushed out trees nearly to the ground. We snuck peeks through the window though my mother had us laying on the flood in the bedroom.

I’ve always wondered about that but now when I think about it, I recall that my mother was from Iowa. They have tornadoes up there! She must have been terrified. There was no place to hide from the hurricane. We don’t have storm cellars in Houston. We had a central bathroom, I suppose we could have clung to the toilet but there were three of us and a tiny baby.

The next day when the storm had passed, we exited the house and it was sunny again. While the grown-ups saw to picking up the pieces (my grandparents home was knocked off its foundation) we went back to our games.

The weather in Houston is interesting. Never boring. Perhaps we should mirror the British and begin with weather conversation as a general rule.  After all, who wants to be boring?

The Before and Afters of Our House

I promised I would show before and after photos of our house. Here are photos from when the house was almost a shell. We saw through the ugly to what it could be. Now we are proud to live here. It is a grand old house of a period in Houston’s history when most homes being built were victorian in characteristic. But some neighborhoods were building in a new form called “arts and crafts“. Our house’s original owner liked the “arts and crafts” details that he had built into this house – the square decorative windows, the square columns on the bottom porch. These are identical to others surrounding us. However, what makes this house stand out in it’s uniqueness is the Victorian porch on the top floor with its round columns. Also the “arts and crafts” homes never had a rounded or “wrap-around” porch. Ours does. In fact when speaking to the ninety-year-old neighbor down the street whose grandfather was the second owner of our house in 1914, she said the porches have always been the way they look now.

This back porch was added in 1978. It doesn’t match anything.

The before picture of back of house shows how the bottom portion of the porch fell off during the raising and leveling of the foundation. Frankly I was surprised this was the only thing that fell off. On the inside a lot of the upstairs ceilings crashed to the floor, and great craters appeared in the walls. Here you can see the huge plant that had grown into the ground and COULDN’T be moved. It was taking over the back porch area so I had to hire someone with a chain saw to cut it out. Upstairs you can see the boards that are framing what will be the bathroom window. That had been a another door.

Now in the after picture you can see that the upstairs porch no longer has the lattice board, you can see the bathroom window of glass brick, and you can see the downstairs porch (now piled with the stuff that needs to go in a shed), the new steps, and the outside of the new mud room.

One of the most dramatic changes happened to the lowly downstairs bath/laundry room. It was located under the double stairs.

You can see the hole in the floor where the toilet had been. This is just next to the kitchen. So I decided this would make a better pantry than utility/bathroom. So here is the “after” picture of the pantry.

The original Victorian front door was re-purposed for this room. But we still had to put in a bathroom. Behind the original bathroom wall was an empty hallway. Here are the before and after pics of the downstairs bath.

First the hall is gutted. You can see the original wall.

Now everyone who sees this thinks it is an original bath room. It is tiny and I used the period details to make it seem very old.

And then the laundry had to go somewhere. My husband had the brilliant idea to put it upstairs next to our bedroom. We aren’t getting any younger and there is always laundry to do, right? So we took a huge, wide hall that led to the upstairs front porch and divided it into three sections. Hall to stairs, our room, the guest bathroom, next section became part for the laundry, and the next section part “sitting area” library in the master bedroom.

So first the laundry – This shot shows the laundry being framed out within that hall area. Two bedroom doors had to be moved in the process. You can see the one doorway being framed in now. Also to the left are the stairs down and the huge window over the stairs.

Laundry AFTER. This is a shot  taken in the same direction.

And this was taken with the laundry doors closed. 

Now behind this laundry room is the master bedroom library. There is a door to the right of the desk that leads to the upstairs front porch.

When you walk in the front door and look to the left there is the nice sized living room. We filled in a door and that gave us a wall there. (I will show you that view from the outside.) What struck us about the living room and dining room were the ceilings. There are nice beams there. They were always meant to be painted wood (low quality boards were used instead of lumber) but we painted them as to seem like wood. Here are the before and afters.

Here is the BEFORE

Of course books and furniture make a difference.

Here in the AFTER you will note that behind the chair is a pocket door. When we first entered, I knew the doorway to the left was much too wide. It made the entry room and the living room into a big odd-shaped area. I knew I wanted the entryway to be private and able to be cut off from the noise in the living room if possible so I said “pocket doors”. The great thing about pocket doors is they take up no wall space. When the frame from the super-sized doorway was removed some original tracks for a pocket door were revealed. I knew that was what was meant to be there!

Now to the master bath. The master bath in this house used to be a bedroom. We took one bedroom and divided it into a master bath and master closet. The closet can never be too big in my opinion!

The before picture of the bath from the inside. Here you can see out and across the porch to the neighbor’s yard behind us.

Now the after picture: You can see on the right the glass block window that is reflected in the glass rain shower.

Here is a picture of the outside side view of the house. That is the living room wall that used to be a door.The porch hasn’t been leveled yet and all the railing replaced, and the iron fence hasn’t been welded together where it had fallen apart.

The after picture.

Now I’m getting to the part everyone wants to see – the kitchen! When I showed pictures earlier in the year of the gutted kitchen with the holes in the floor, people were commenting that nothing good could come of this. I like to think that the kitchen redo reflects my style of creating any art piece. I have had people comment that my art looks like a mess before it becomes anything identifiable. When I work with gauche, I know this to be true. Everything must be broken down to its ugliest most prehistoric form before becoming what it is meant to be. With gauche you have to see the negative in whites before the positives can be applied in darker paint to create the picture.  It is the way with any reconstruction project or any creative attempt. Sometimes you just have to work backward to get forward.

Sidebar: this philosophy works when cleaning out a closet.

Here is the kitchen pre-gut:

Kinda depressing, huh?

Then the gut:Feeling worse?

But wait! Add cabinets, new floors, appliances, fun light fixtures, an amazing faucet and voila!

This is from the same angle as the gut picture. Note the mason jar lights. Cute, huh?

Let me share a few more angles.

Where the brick column is was sheet rock. We wanted to expose the column. This is an original 100-year-old chimney flue. There is a hole in the brick near the ceiling where the original kitchen’s wood-burning stove’s pipe took the heat and smoke up and out. This brick goes from the dirt, through the roof.

Here is a picture when they were taking out the sheet rock and ugly cabinet. This is a perfect spot for a Wine bar. Don’t you see it, too?

Not completely finished (this was one of those projects the builder decided he didn’t need to do.) but we will be adding the cabinet before long. Meanwhile it functions well in its capacity.

So how did we make all the porches seem like they belong on the same house? I mean after all the front porches are in two different styles and the back porches were added in 1978. Welllllll. We made all the porch railing match all the way around and up and down.

Thank you for viewing my pictures and the year-long effort of re-making a 100-year-old mess into the beauty it was always supposed to be.