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German Spies, Flim-Flam Men and Stolen Tortillas

by Yvonne Hastings (Winfrey)
I was born in Beeville in 1935, where my father worked first for the Coca Cola plant there. My Grandparents were Sidney and Fannie Winfrey and they had a grocery store for years on the highway that went to the Air Force base. I went to school in Beeville until we moved to Houston. I remember the caliche pit and the graveyard just a block from our house. I went back to Beeville in the 80's and there is now a freeway where our house use to be.

My parents were friends with the Sheriff who was at that time Vale Ennis. The Walkers were the owners of the local funeral home and I remember going there after school and talking to Virginia Walker as she put makeup on the corpses.
Beeville Coca Cola Bottling Co.
TE photo, 2000
Fashion Statement or Question?

My first boy friend was Wayne Geisler and we dated on and off even after my family moved to Houston. I would come down for a week during the summer and stay with my Grandmother. I remember my mother would pack shorts for me to wear because there was no air conditioning and immediately after I arrivied my Grandmother would take me to town and buy me a proper dress. I have pictures of the summer she bought me a straight up and down dress with big yellow flowers. You can tell by the look on my face that I would rather be dead than seen in that dress.
Singing Bedsprings and German Spies

There are things that happened in Beeville before we entered the war, there were people living next door to us that would have meetings and when the people would leave the house they would click their heels and say "Heil Hitler." This was late 30's and they were just being what they thought was loyal to their country. When the war started they were using a short wave radio to send messages to German Submarines off the coast. I really have only second hand information on this but I do remember when this happened because my bed springs were picking up the messages and my Mother knew Morse code. My Father who was a good friend of Sheriff Vale Ennis had him come to our house and Mother translated to him as they all sat around my bed. These people came to my Mother and Daddy's 50th wedding anniversary.

There was gas rationing and people stopped going on Sunday drives. But for some reason (which I can't now remember) our family had extra coupons and since that was all we had to do in those days, Daddy would take us for rides in the country. It seemed that there was always a dust storm about three o'clock every Sunday afternoon. I also remember the red ants and the rattlesnakes.
The wicked shall be turned into  Hell
TE photo, 2000
Dr. Pepper's "Prescription" and that Damn Life Magazine

My brother and I could walk across town to my grandparents store and granddaddy always was watching for us and had candy in his hand. I remember that my Grandmother believed in the Bible and the fact that you had to drink a Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and 4. I was there at the store one summer and I had the job of dusting the canned goods. This day a stranger walked in and tried to pull the old trick that he had given her a five-dollar bill when it was only a one. She grabbed a pitchfork that she kept by the meat counter (between customers she would have time to work her flower bed). She chased that fellow halfway to the county line. One time Life magazine had the word "damn" in it, she canceled her subscription.
Raining Wrenches

I asked my brother (three years younger than me) what he remembers and he reminded me of the the neighbors we had after we moved to the "country" which was really just a short distance from town. The next door neighbor owned the little airport and when he was going to be late coming home he would fly low letting all the kids know to go in the house. On his second pass he would drop a wrench in his back yard with a note attached. telling his wife what time he would be home for supper. He took me and my Grandmother for a ride in an open (double) cockpit plane.
Stuck on the Railroad Tracks - Again.

I also remember that our milk was delivered by a man in a horse and buggy. He and his wife were friends of my parents and sometimes he would let me finish the route with him. We would end up back at his place in the country and I would spend the rest of the day playing with his daughter. He used to always pretend that his wagon was stuck on the railroad track and that he was just sure the train would come along at any minute. It worked the first few times.
The Case of the Tempting Tortillas

We had a Mexican family that lived in a little shack at the back of our property. The lady of the house made the mistake of letting me taste one of her bean and corn tortillas. After that when they would go to town on Saturdays she always left some sitting on a plate on the kitchen table. I would climb in the window and eat some. I found out much later that she knew what I was doing and was deliberately leaving them there for me.
Is it my imagination, or does this pork smell a little like skunk?

My grandparents store was a small building with a small apartment on the side. The building was up on blocks and one terrible week we had a skunk come in under the meat counter and die. They had to take up the floor and even had to disconnect part of the meat counter.
Grandaddy's Last Words

My grandparents would carry people on credit at their store and if they were in a hurry they would write the amount and name of the customer on the marble counter top on the cash register. When things slowed down they would transfer it to that family's credit book. When my grandfather become ill and had gone into a coma, my mother would come by the store at closing to take my grandmother to the hospital. In her hurry, my grandmother failed to transfer a Mrs. Truxow's debt to the book. My mother and grandmother got to the hospital only to be told by the nurse that they did not think granddaddy would make it through the night. Mother and Nana both told this story all through my life. Granddaddy came out of the coma for just a few minutes and looked at Nana and said "don't forget to write Mrs. Truxows charge on the book" and then he died.
Beeville Texas Street Scene
TE photo, 2001
I could probably write a book but I will let it go for now.
- Yvonne Hastings (Winfrey), Brenham, Texas. March, 2007

"They shoe horses, don't they?" April 1, 2007 Column

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