While I was at camp that summer, Mom was busy trying to line up work. Her brother-in-law was on the board of the San Antonio school system and he helped Mom get a job. She couldn’t teach in the San Antonio system because she was his relative, but he helped her get located in the Edgewood School district. His name was Jim Hollers-what a great name for a dentist. He was listed in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” because of his name.
Her new job was in a 100% Hispanic school down in the southwest part of San Antonio. That was okay with Mom; she loved all things about Mexico and soon spoke fluent Spanish. She moved into a tiny little house at 107 Parkmoor Court in San Antonio, which had about 600 square feet-that is not a typo.
When I returned to San Antonio in September I was enrolled in the San Antonio Military Academy. I was heavy for my age and Coach Pierce put me on the line as a tackle on the San Antonio Academy football team.
Mom had moved us into a duplex on Gramercy while I was away during the summer. This duplex was about three houses away from the house her sister Helen bought later, after she was divorced from Jim Hollers. Helen lived in that house for many years and all the family lived with her for a while after the war. This was before she remarried and bought the farm at Leon Springs. From our Gramercy home, I walked to school, which was only about eight blocks south, down Lake Blvd.
During the Christmas season in 1936 my Dad was in Eagle Pass. He’d been hired to dig a huge canal that left the Rio Grande above Eagle Pass and went to the east of the town and re-entered the Rio Grande, south of Eagle Pass. It was about 90 miles in length. It was a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that was established in April of 1935 to create jobs for those who had lost their employment in the depression.
In the summer of 1937, Mom put me on the bus which took me to Dilly, TX, where I had to get off and catch a small bus to go on to Eagle Pass. The small bus was what we would call a long stretch limo today-only there was a door on the right side of the bus at the end of each row of seats. Dad was living in the Eagle Hotel which was owned by Margaret Myrick Morris and her husband, Clews. They lived in a house behind the hotel.
Dad would leave me there most every day. I would have a run of the place and everyone who worked there sort of looked after me. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen and enjoyed running the elevator, taking people up and down. In those days the elevators were not automatic. If you were on the fourth floor for instance, and wanted to go to the lobby, you pressed the button, and then you had to wait until the elevator operator decided to go up and get you. Some days Dad would take me with him to the job. That’s where I would get to ride on some of the big machines that were digging the canal.
One incident that made quite an impression on me happened at this time out on the job. Dad had an employee named “Rabbit” who had a drinking problem.Dad had kept him on because he was absolutely the best Dragline operator in Texas-when he was sober. One day Dad went out to check the job, and as he arrived he saw the big Dragline swinging around and around. The huge bucket was swinging at the end of the long cable, and all the men around it were diving for cover. The side of one truck had been bashed in and Rabbit was at the controls of the Dragline laughing and having a big time. He was drunk as a skunk.
Dad waited for the bucket to swing past him and he dashed over to the Dragline and climbed on the tracks and then on up to the cab of the machine. He reached over, switched the huge machine off and then drug Rabbit out of the cab. Dad put Rabbit in his ‘36 Ford coupe and took him back to town. Dad had warned him regarding his drinking on the job many times but this time he’d had it-he fired Rabbit.
Photo of Hotel Eagle, Eagle Pass, TX found here.