| Columns | "Spunky
Flat and Beyond"
in 1930s Marlin
A Memoir by George
Separating parents and children in Falls County was easier than
you'd think. While the Great Depression had no cure - symptoms were
lessened by ground beef and cola - taken orally and digested in the
dark. - Editor
It is almost impossible
for youth of today to imagine what life was like for youngsters of
the 30s. Rather than lecture on how tough we had it, I'll simply present
a slice of life in a different era.
My brother Sam and I lived on a farm in north central Texas about
10 miles east of Marlin.
In those days most kids had chores to do. It was taken for granted.
It was just the way things were then and we didn't question it.
In the spring we chopped miles of cotton
rows, clearing the weeds between the stalks. Later, when the cotton
matured it had to be picked. We didn't have machinery to do it and
we didn't just pull bolls and all. We had to painstakingly pull the
fluffy white fibers out of the prickly bolls. After a while our fingers
were sore and bleeding, but they later became as tough as shoe leather.
Palace Theater & Palace Café
Hamburgers at the Café were a nickel or a dime - depending on who
was eating them.
It was in the
heart of the depression and although we always had plenty to eat we
had very little spending money.
Our dad gave us each a quarter to spend on our big "Saturday-go-to-town"
day. With that quarter I got two hamburgers, an R.C. Cola and still
had a dime left over. There was a café right next to the Palace Theatre
that sold hamburgers to kids for a nickel but the grown-ups had to
pay a dime for them. I have never tasted any kind of gourmet food
that could compare with the sensation of a biting into a Palace Cafe
hamburger and washing it down with a swallow of "R.C.".
Strand Theater building today
in the Palace
Even though we
had dined right next door to the Palace Theatre, Sam and I never considered
seeing a movie there. The Palace featured those grownup romance-type
films - the kind no kid would be caught dead watching.
and Stranded Kids
Instead, my brother and I ran the few blocks to the Strand Theatre
where the "Shoot 'em up" westerns were playing. I can still
feel the tingle of excitement waiting in the darkened room for the
movie to start. When that first flicker of light came across the screen
the place went wild. The western stars of those days were Buck
Jones, Hopalong Cassidy, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson,
and Tom Mix among others. When the movie was over we would
meet mother and dad coming out of the Palace theatre.
On the trip back home the stark reality sank in that we were about
to face another six days of labor. But for a short time there in the
darkness of the Strand theatre we were lifted far above everyday life
- enjoying Western adventure with a tummy full of nickel hamburgers
and R.C. Cola.