Sunday, August 28, 2011

1914 - Grandma Gruetzmacher's Funeral by Wilben Long Newton

This is not so much a story, but rather unedited notes for a story. It is unknown to me if Uncle Willie ever transformed these disjointed notes into a 'story'. Comments by me (GMN) are in brackets.

1914 - Grandma Gruetzmacher's Funeral
by Wilben Long Newton

I remember a lot of aunts dresses in black with ditto veils when we went to Grandma's funeral, 1914 certain in my memory. I yield to 1907 for Grandpa, though I was always under the impression Mama said 1910. [Augusta Gruetzmacher died July 14, 1914. Her husband Paul Louis Gruetzmacher died December 2, 1905. Their son Paul died in 1909, which was probably the cause of the date confusion.]

Memories of Galveston 1914:

Aunt in black veil thrusting her face into mine. I asking, "Who're you?" Aunt: "I'm your Aunt Gussie." [Aunt Gussie would be Augusta Gruetzmacher (1880-1926?) who supposedly married a Bob Marquette and had two children. I haven't found anything about these folks.]

Someone taking me into the parlor on the night of our arrival and lifting me up to see the dead face of my grandmother. How shivery I felt! Afterward I kept being drawn toward the dimly lit parlor, but I never ventured over the threshold.

Morning after: Aunt Edith waiting with my pants and shirt for me to wake up and start having fun at Grandma's funeral. [Aunt Edith would be Mary Edith Gruetzmacher (1899-1974).]

Big barefoot kid of 14, Aunt Octavia, playing with us. She and Elizabeth had some kind of game wherein I was to be the captive, but I started crying and wouldn't play. [Aunt Octavia would be Octavia Elizabeth Gruetzmacher (1902-1958).]

To the beach late in the afternoon, Mama in a borrowed suit of Aunt Clara's, complete with tie-on head scarf. [Aunt Clara Gruetzmacher was the oldest child, (1878-1937), while "Mama" Matilda Elizabeth Gruetzmacher Newton (1879-1963) was the next oldest.]

Starting over, to the beach late of an afternoon, Mama in borrowed suit of Aunt Clara's, complete with tie-on head scarf and stockings (slippers yet!) Jerry bawling, afraid of the waves, Mama holding him and siting in one spot till the tide washed a hollow spot out. The rest of us paddling around. Elizabeth reported to Mama: Gracie's drowning. Mama yanked you up, saving your life.

Playing in the yard while the funeral was going on in the parlor. Seeing Grandma's casket borne down the front steps to the waiting hearse. Shivery feeling up backbone.

Memory of 1914: That cotton thing Ed had under glass. I remember it in the parlor at 1910 Ave. N in 1914. [Edward Gruetzmacher (1893-1900) had died soon after the Great Galveston Storm, of diptheria or scarlet fever, according to Grace. I wonder what that 'cotton thing' was? Perhaps a memento?]

Jerry drowned three chickens in a tub of water warming in the sun for wash day. He wanted them to swim. Also nipping a fig off a low branch with his teeth. This was considered by all the aunts as a great thing.

One lunch we had scrambled eggs and pork-beans, which I considerd singular, in that at home at 1009 Calder we always had meat for Daddy to cut up in little squares for us. Later we fell on evil days and sometimes had nothing, but then we always had meat, and it seemed strange that in Galveston there was none for anyone to cut up into small squares for me.

Big cat under table, Meetza. We had one named that in 1920 or thereabout, I recall.

Otto coming home for lunch, afterward lying on wicker couch with straw hat on waiting for time to go back to Pete Gengler's. [Peter Gengler's was a large wholesale grocer whose warehouse was located on The Strand.]

Otto waiting for time to hitch up and drive back to Gengler's, straw hat on, practicing sheet music, voice, "Get out and get under, get out and get under, get under the automobile." We kids scrambling and screeching around under foot until finally he said "You kids shut up!" Eventually he must have gone back to Gengler's.

The whole visit couldn't have been over four days, like leave Thu., return Sun. afternoon. But it seemed forever and a day. Ah, what fun! Grandma would've been happy that we had such fun at her obsequi[ti]es. Started in afternoon from S. P. [Southern Pacific rail] station (conductor calling "Nome" gave us name for our dolls town forever after.). Houston in early evening, but night before we could get on interurban and rackety-racket over causeway. Remember gawking up at Rice Hotel [downtown Houston], looking at moving sign in lights of newspaper boy running. Ice cream sodas at drugstore that wasn't Thames - Dunlops in 1914, I suppose. [Thames Drugs was a longtime Beaumont drugstore. Dunlops must have been the Houston equivalent.] Galveston, jitney to 1910 [Avenue N] on moonlit Broadway, cost 25 cents for the lot of us. Sad let-down coming home on gray Sun. afternoon. Daddy came before lunch and took us home afterward. It seemed forever crossing on the ferry, all those choo-choo cars weighting it all down. [For years, there was a railroad that went from Beaumont to Winnie and then down the Boliver Peninsula and over to Galveston via a ferry or railroad barge. The barge could hold the train engine and several freight and passenger rail cars.] The barge stopped for an hour, it seemed, out in the bay while they fixed something. Mama always said a fortune teller had told her she would be in a train accident that next summer, but that was the year of the 1915 storm. I remember Mama had a bag packed getting ready to go, but of course we couldn't. She gave me back a soldier and a rowboat I was going to take, and I saw no more of Galveston till I was a big kid of 18 and went over in the summer on a weekend excursion to visit Clara and Octavia.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Haggardy Bull-Dog By Grace C. Newton

The Haggardy Bull-Dog

By Grace C. Newton

I have few early recollections. 1914 is the first I can remember anything. That summer Grandma G. died. But it must have been in the Spring of that year that I had the experience of being frightened out of my wits by a friendly bull-dog from next door. We were living in the downstairs apartment at 1009 Calder. The big two-story house was on the corner at Magnolia. I was playing happily by myself in a sandpile near our back porch when I sensed something breathing close to me. Looking around, I was horrified to find a bull-dog, one of those ferocious-looking by lovable English bulls, close to my elbow. I sat petrified but screaming for all I was worth! Soon I became aware that the owner of the dog was rushing frantically to my rescue, while at the same time I was also aware that Mama and the other kids had come out onto the porch in answer to my screams. The neighbor was trying to console me and to determine whether I was hurt. The dog was sitting quietly, I suppose puzzled by my strange reaction; but the family were still standing on the porch, laughing hilariously and making no attempt to come to my rescue. Suddenly I felt more drawn to the kind neighbor than to them. Well, I decided, I was not going to be a free show for them. So I turned off the screams.

[Grace Cornell Newton was born in 1909. "Grandma G." was Augusta (maiden name unknown) Gruetzmacher, who died in 1914.]
Cousin Stelle's Visit

Copied from a letter from Mildred (Aunt) Elizabeth Newton to Grace Newton

Estelle or Stelle Walker was Daddy's cousin. She and her husband came thru Beaumont when we were living upstairs at Mrs. Johnston's, in 1908 [sic] or 09, you [Grace, born July 1909] a baby, Daddy working at Roos Bros. He asked Mamma to have them over for the noon meal, and they came. (They were staying at the Fields Hotel.) Much of the visit didn't sink in, as I was rather young, but Mom told me the details several years later when we were living downstairs. The Walkers invited us for lunch in their room at the hotel. As we went upstairs, the light streaming through crisp, white curtains in the glass in the door was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It made such an impression on me, I remembered it, and Mamma didn't know of it, as I never told her. Daddy came and we ate. Mamma told me when I was older that Stelle had sliced ham, bread, milk and coffee on a small table. addy said he had to leave early to meet a buyer at Roos Bros. But that night he told Mamma he could not go all the rest of the day on sandwiches, so he had a meal at a cafe before going back to work. When the Walkers left, Stelle gave Mamma a brown and dark green striped dress she had. Mamma took it, but never wore it.

When we moved downstairs ay Johnstones [sic] I was about 7 [circa 1912]. I decided I needed a husband, so put an old broom and a mop handle together with rope. I needed a suit for Mr. Brown so Mamma gave me the old taffeta dress, and I made coat and trousers of it, and that's what became of Cousin Stelle's finery. What became of Stelle, I never knew.

[Estella Newton was born around 1875 in New Madrid, Missouri. She was the only surviving child of John R. Newton and Nannie Massengill. Estella married Arthur Walker. I have been unable to track this couple. John R. Newton has also been a bit of a mystery. He was a merchant in New Madrid, but died sometime before 1909, which was when his wife remarried. GMN.]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mamma's Big Surprise by Grace Newton

by Grace Cornell Newton, Aug. 23, 1978

For one Easter, I can't recall which year, mamma made a big white outing flannel rabbit for Daddy's Easter window at the store. Since it was meant to surprise him, she had to work on it when he wasn't at home. And he was certainly surprised; from start to finish he never suspected what she was doing.

Besides selling the fine grade of men's wear that Roos Brothers featured, Daddy had to "dress the windows," which was largely the mode of advertising then. He had a small workshop upstairs on the alley side where he made his cards, doing all his own printing and decorating. His talent for this art work was genuine and natural without benefit of formal training. His designs were mostly his own, his lettering was free-hand. Often he painted lilies or poinsettias or rabbits, in keeping with the season. He also had a unique method of stippling, using a cutout which, after being lifted off, left the design in white outlined by gold, or whatever color paint he might be using.

In great demand as a salesman, he often had to come downstairs to serve a customer who would not buy from anyone else. He worked hard at his job, the store hours were long; for selling and doing his windows he received the grand sum of forty dollars a week, there was no paid vacation, and of course no group employee health insurance. But in those days he was still young enough to be enthusiastic about his work, and Mamma was enthusiastic with him.

So while he ran up and down the stairs and in and out his windows at the store, Mamma was busy on her project at home. She was as talented with her needle as he was with his brushes. Finally the rabbit was finished, from pink nose and white embroidery thread whiskers to pink embroidered eyes and pink satin-lined ears. Having tied a pink satin bow about his neck, Mamma set him in the middle of the kitchen table, then went to bed. It was a late night and the apartment was dark when Daddy came home. Not to awaken Mamma, who was awake and snickering to herself, he tiptoed into the kitchen to undress.

When he turned on the light and saw that big rabbit, he let out such a war-whoop that if Mamma had really been asleep, she wouldn't have been for long.

Next day the rabbit was carried to the store and installed in a window where it attracted much deserved attention.