For those that don't know it, that's a mouthful. Every so often as I grew up, we'd wind our way through the woods on two lane farm to market roads that had no shoulder towards the destination of Livingston, TX. We'd pass through such colorful places as Dallardsville, Soda (where daddy swore I could get all the free soda water I wanted), Segno and Camp Ruby. Camp Ruby is where the cemetery is. Where my daddy's mama and daddy lay along with other family members. I can remember going to family reunions held at the cemetery and the choir from the Alabama-Coushatta Indian tribe would sing for us. Not sure why, just know it was good music in that little board church with the hardwood floors.
But I digress, as today is about Livingston and what made going there special. Well my daddy's people cotton farmed right next to the Indian reservation in that area. When I was growing up, we had a several of my aunts who lived there (Ray, Meryl, Elsie) cousins, and my grandmother as long as she was alive.
So, we'd drive through the woods, passed bunches of old pumping units (horse heads) and I'd imagine that the red light on the top of towers was Rudolph's nose. Or get bored and ask for a hamburger. Which made daddy terribly mad, as he couldn't understand why I couldn't see we were out in the middle of no where and a hamburger could not be found.
Then we'd usually go to Aunt Ray's and Uncle Doc's. Everyone would congregate there because they had the roomiest house and a good large lawn. Many times these gatherings were called because the two sisters that lived the farthest away, Elena and Mitzie, had flown in. And the relatives would congregate. There'd be forty-two tournaments running full time in Aunt R.A.'s dining room. I remember how thrilled I was the one year they finally let me sit in on a game, thinking i was old enough to get it.
The kitchen would always have large pots simmering down something tasty and there would be a parade of pies brought in from a dinner down the street. Most of my time at these events was spent playing croquet with my cousin Gary who was older than me. Or when we got a little older he'd take me to town for malts or to the picture show to see free movies because he worked there sometimes.
I loved those gatherings at Livingston. There was no alcohol. No bedtimes. If we were there on a Sunday, we'd often all go to church with R.A. and Doc. Life seemed slow and good. Felt like a movie from the fifties. A time warp. One I'd go back to if I could.
Post Script: R.A. or Ray was married to Doc, and was Gary's mother. Meryl had once been married to a gangster. She had a son named Billy who became fast friends with my older sisters and at one time drove a race car. Aunt Elsie was married to Curtis and they lived on place that was like a farm. Had a barn. Big pond. Uncle Curtis was supposed to be a carpenter, yet they didn't get an indoor bathroom until I was in high school. They had an outhouse. I remember well having to go there when we stayed over. Aunt Elsie always had big old country mattresses on her beds and lots of quilts. Elena was married to a Jew, Uncle Dave, who owned Hofbrau Restaurants in Oakland and San Fransisco. I found it funny later in life, that he, a Jew, owned a restaurant with a German name and German beer steins. Then there was Mitzie. She had been a twin. Her actual name was Verlis and her twin brother had been Vernon. But sometime before I came along, Vernon stopped his vehicle too close to a train crossing and a loose hook on a log car caught his bumper and pulled him under the train. All together there were 14 children in my daddy's family that survived until adulthood.