This picture was taken in 1942 at Hail Center, Fannin County, Texas. Ruth graduated from Bartley-Woods School in Fannin County in 1942 with only 10 students in the class. The Bartley-Woods School was closed in the 1950s and everyone went to school in Bonham, Texas. Hail Center is about 5 to 7 miles south of Bonham. Mother meet my dad, Willie Joe Finley at Bonham on a Saturday afternoon in 1945. Daddy lived north of Bonham near the Red River in Ravenna, Texas.
1942 Picture of John Henry Conway family...Lto R: Dorothy, Ruth, Ola, John, Oneta, Dude, and Sonny (Elton RL)...Bottom: Joann, Beatrice, Joyce..(note: John Frank was born in 1946)
Papaw Conway was a share cropper working for different farmers in Fannin County and in the summer, he would load up the older children and head to Memphis, Texas. They had a Model T truck in which they would throw a couple of mattresses, some coal oil lamps, bedding, food and drive to West Texas where Aunt Rosie Vaughn lived. She was Papaw's sister and she helped find them a house to use while they were there. Back then, families only took just what they needed to survive until all the cotton was picked and sent to the gins. They would pick cotton for different farmers in the area trying to make enough money to buy clothes and shoes to use in the winter and for school.
One time Papaw took Oneda, Beatrice and Moma as the other kids were too young to work in the fields. Moma was the oldest one of the three girls who went on this particular trip. Oneda and Bea were several years younger. After picking cotton all day, Papaw would walk over to Rosie's house to talk with his brother-in-law, Lester Vaughn. Mama decided to play a trick on Oneda and Bea. She took soot from the coal oil lamp chimmey and put it on her face then slipped outside while Bea and Oneda were cleaning the dishes from supper. She would sneak a peek in the kitchen window and then drop out of sight in the dark. It was very dark outside and they could only see her eyes when they finally saw her and started screaming. They locked all the windows and doors and would not let her back in the house until Papaw came home. She said they were madder than wet hens when they realized the trick that was played on them. Papaw had a good laugh that night.
When Mother was about six years old(ca 1932), the family lived in a four room tent that had a canvas top and sides half way down with wood sides on the bottom and a dirt floor. Sharecroppers had to live in whatever the land owners had available at the time. The tent had several beds in one corner and the wood stove for heating and cooking in another part with a table. There was no formal dining room, kitchen and such like we have in 2006. They used coal oil lamps and sometimes if they were lucky, they had a single light bulb where they lived. They lived in Fannin County until 1950 when they moved to Leveretts Chapel in Gregg County.
Mother married Daddy in 1945 and I asked her how they met as they lived quite a ways from each other. Back then wagons pulled by horses and cars were the means of travel if you had money for either one. Mother lived at Hail Center and went to school at Bartley-Woods which is about 8 miles south of Bonham. Daddy lived at Ravenna which is located about 10 miles north of Bonham near the Red River. Well, we have all heard how everyone went to town on Saturday and spent time there shopping, visiting and sometimes going to the movies. This is where we get the saying, "it's time for my weekly bath". Everyone would bath and clean up for the trip to town. In the 1940s, Bonham had 3 movie theaters. To me that was a lot, but it was the only entertainment unless the church had a social. Some of the people would sit in their cars or wagons to visit while others would walk around the square sometimes sitting outside a store front and catch up on all the news for the week. Mother's teacher was just a few years older than the students she taught and she did her sparkin' just like everyone else who was single on Saturday afternoons. Summer days were hot after working in the fields so they would hitch up the wagon and travel to the river or creek to take a dip and cool off before bedtime. There were no swimming pools for the children of farmers and any of the other people in town until many more years passed.
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