His Mama Cries” is words in the lyrics of a popular song titled “In The Ghettos”
sung by Elvis Presley and released in 1969. I remember well, hearing the recording
real frequently when, during the 1960's and ‘70's, I regularly worked the late
night shift in and around Houston’s
big notorious ghettos known as the 3rd, 4th and 5th Wards.
hand, conditions in those areas brought real meaning of the song to me. Many years
have past since those times I spent in the deep darkness of the big city’s worst
and most dangerous areas. Those are places where it may be best not to let the
sun go down on you.
But this story is about a different time and different
place. Many years and much distance removed from the above. This story takes place
in my earliest childhood during the 1930's and ‘40's in NE
Texas. I must tell it to you now while I remember it well. Please bear with
mother was raised in a single parent home in NW Louisiana in Oil City and Mooringsport,
very near Caddo Lake. She completed
Oil City High School by finishing the eleventh grade in 1930-31. Not many months
later she met and married my father, a young farm hand from NE Texas, who had
only finished the 8th grade. They soon settled down on the large Maxie Family
Farm north of McLeod near Moss’s
Mill Pond. All this is located in the Ark-La-Tex
During the toughest, most miserable years of the Great Depression,
they produced and raised three children. My two sisters and I grew up during the
most depressed times this nation has ever known. My parents, as most others during
that time, didn’t have it easy. Not one bit!
Over the next year or two,
my father got a “temporary” job in the NE Texas oil field; a job that turned out
to last over thirty years and was the greatest sustaining element of this family.
earliest childhood recollection is living on the Rambo
Oil Lease. The little oil camp shotgun house in the Rodessa Field was very
modest and barely adequate for a family of five. I was only a toddler, maybe as
much as four or five, over this time period. I was highly sadden to see my mom,
while bending over a sink full of dirty dishes or a galvanized washtub of dirty
clothes, crying profusely. She cried her eyes out many times, as I recall. Mother’s
heart was surely sad and deeply broken, unable to find any joy in life. Her plot
in life wasn’t what she had hoped for and happiness was not to be found during
those extremely hard times.
“And His Mama Cries.”...... Sobbing uncontrollably
as big tears rolled down her face into her work, mother said things like, “I should
have listened to my mother.”...... “Oh! Why didn’t I listen to my mother?”......
“I wish my mother was here.”...... “How did I ever let myself get into this?”......
“This work is so hard and back breaking. Oh, God help me!”........ Her mother
had died at Vivian, Louisiana, by 1935 in her early fifties.
lived until 1996 and to age 83. Although, through difficult times, she always
said she wanted to be buried next to her mother at Starks, Louisiana. I am sorry
to say, that never happened. She eventually relented to enter eternal rest at
Huffines Cemetery in Cass County next to my father who had died in 1981, at age
Several years before mother died, my youngest son and I returned, trekking through
the woods, to the old oil field camp house. The old wooden house had rotted to
the ground and was over grown with weeds and bushes; not much left of it.
among the rubble I found the old cast iron kitchen sink. As heavy as it is, (it
must weigh eighty pounds) son and I carried it a half mile out to the road where
I had parked my pickup. We put it in the truck and I brought it home with me where
it remains today in our workshop as a storage container.
Before I left
mother’s house that day to return home, she saw the old cast iron sink in the
back of my truck. She asked where I had gotten it and I told her. She remembered
it and only said, “What do you want with that old thing?”
never knew of its less than joyous memories to me, or of its significance in the
recollection of that little child in the old camp house on the Rambo Oil Lease.
Some memories, as this one is, are ‘real’ keepers.
“And His Mama Cries.”......
It’s title is “In The Ghettos.” Get the DVD, or look up the lyrics, if you think
you can stand the sadness of it.
© N. Ray Maxie
1, 2009 Column
Related Story: Mother’s
Wash Day Monday on the Farm
Related Topics: Mothers
More Texas | Online
Magazine | Texas Towns | Features
| Columns | Ramblin'