keeps drawing me back to Schneiderís Store, the little filling station
on FM 541 at Dewees in the southwest
part of Wilson County.
It has been there for over 80 years.
I think I feel attached to the store because it is the only business
or school left in that part of the county that I remember from 75
years ago. Before television and Internet came in, it was the era
of small farmers living out there, and small schools that were the
meeting places for all the families in that part of the county. Now
the small farmer is a thing of the past.
I read a book called ďYou Canít Go Home AgainĒ. Thomas Wolfe wrote
that you canít go home again, but he also wrote: ďSome things will
never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your
ear upon the earth and listen. The voice of forest water in the night,
a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel,
the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of
children's voices in bright air--these things will never change.Ē
He is right - some things never change.
Schneiderís store is the only link to my past when we lived on a 100-acre
farm by Kasper School west of Poth
on the road, and that store is still standing and in business today!
All the schools have been torn down and mesquite brush and cactus
is all that is there on the site of Kasper School. You canít even
see the old cistern that sat near the school. Eight years ago, I was
out there and the cistern was still there. And a barren field is all
than remains on the site of Dewees School across the road from Schneiderís
I visited with Alene Pawelek, the owner, who bought the store and
land around it, from Helen Schneider in 1997. She first met Miss Helen
when she would come with a group of friends from the Catholic Church
in Poth, after mass on Saturday night.
Miss Helen was going to sell the place, so Alene put her name in the
hat with three other persons who wanted to buy it too. They had more
money than she did, so she didnít think she would get it. Alene Pawelek
was the one Miss Helen chose to buy the store. But Miss Helen owned
and operated Schneiderís Store for over 65 years.
During cotton ginning season the old cotton gin was a busy place with
wagons pulled up and in line with their loads of cotton
waiting to be ginned and baled. Miss Helen would begin in the early
morning cooking up big pots of stew or chili. The farmers could come
in the store all day long to get a bowl of stew or chili for 50 cents
and a bottle of soda pop for 5 cents. Also she would cut up cheese
and sausage and weigh it on a scale and sell it with soda crackers
for $1. It was a full meal! I am sure the old timers still around
that part of county remembers those days!
|Alene gave me
copies of pictures that Miss Helen gave to her. The accompanying pictures
are of two little girls sitting on bales of cotton at the gin. They
look like little girls perhaps in the 30ís. Perhaps someone recognizes
who the girls are. The other picture is one that was taken in front
the store by the old gas pumps. There is a little girl on the right
who seems to be sitting down playing - with her back turned to the
camera. Perhaps she was too shy for the camera. It would be interesting
to hear if anyone knows these children.
| But John Steinbeck
wrote, ďThomas Wolfe said you canít go home again, because home has
ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memoriesĒ.
Schneiders is still open for business today. Oil field workers come
there to get gas and eat lunch. Alene serves hamburgers and sandwiches
to the workers sitting at the counter or the tables.
I sat there that day and the store was the same. Same old floor, same
counter, still the same size, except Miss Helen enlarged the back
room and put in a few more tables. The front part still feels the
same as it was in the 40's when Daddy brought us in and while he drank
a beer and talked to old friends, we were treated to an ice cream
cone. Alene still serves ice cream cones. So that day, my brother
and I got two chocolate cones as we left.
Thomas Wolfe was right about one thing: Some things never change and
I felt like I had come home again.
© Lois Zook Wauson
shoe horses, don't they?" September 2, 2015
Lois Zook Wauson's book "Rainy Days and Starry Nights' (2004) is a
collection of her stories about growing up in South Texas during the
1930s and 40s.
TE Online Magazine
Days and Starry Nights