Franklin County Historical Association
An Opening Gallery of Historic Photographs from the Town Square, Smokey Row, Hester Chevrolet, and West Main Street
PRESIDENTIAL MUSINGS: ON FOOD AND HOLIDAYS AND MEMORIES THROUGH STILL-REMEMBERED VOICES
By B. F. Hicks, FCHA President
William Humphrey has a beautiful passage in THE ORDWAYS, his novel set in Red River County just north of us. He is reminiscing about the Civil War and the continuing validity and importance of the war… from the perspective of the 1930’s setting of the novel. That as long as there were the stories of the hardship from that time which the grandchildren knew having heard them on grandpa’s knee; that the war would remain alive; as told in those still-remembered voices. That the animosity for the North would not die as long as those grandchildren lived even though that War was 100 years before.
In the same chapter he explains that a southerner actually lives in three generations; his own and in those of his children and grandchildren because they know his stories which are known in those still remember ed voices.
I fear I don’t succeed enough in getting the still remembered voices concept across. Humphrey relies on it in the context of the American Civil War. My effort of late has been in food. One more effort to impart a sense of heritage and history in the nephews.
We had a marvelous Christmas meal. There were 16 guests at the table and I had given a great deal of thought to a number of the dishes. I did not manage to serve the Pauline (Nooney) Hicks cole slaw (a real effort; cabbage hand grated on the fine side of a box grater and seasoned delicately) and so it was not in the crystal dish always brought in my by Aunt Nooney as her offering for any family meal.
I did manage to peel the wax skins off the rutabagas and to cut up that terribly hard vegetable and to get it boiled and then mashed and seasoned with butter and cream and served in Aunt Mae’s bowl. What a labor of love; how did she ever succeed in processing those most difficult of vegetables. And I had the fordhook lima beans in a bowl which belonged to Aunt Virgie Beth Hughes. My brother Sid opined that Virgie preferred the small limas; I think differently. Fordhooks are expensive and are reserved for special occasions; she would have approved of their Christmas use. Fordhooks boiled till quite tender with butter and salt seasoning (and a touch of sugar) were the order of the day.
And so it went as all guests at the table endured a two hour feast as we described each of about 12 vegetables; why they were significant and who had grown them, savored them, or prepared them. We went through the explanation that the cream crowder peas picked at the garden of our friend Will Godwin were the same pea that my father loved so much. And served with my mother’s pear relish. And we explained who had owned what dish or serving piece. That relish was in a berry bowl dating from at least 1880 that had belonged to Grannie Ivey who has been dead since 1927. But I remember the voices of all her grandchildren who spoke with an amazing fondness for that tiny Scotch woman. One green eye and one blue eye; yes, southern intermarriage of cousins, this coming Christmas I’ll have her picture out at the table also.
We managed to break a 1950’s tea pitcher when one guest poured boiling hot steeped tea off the stove directly into the pitcher but that made for quite a good lesson as I explained to Daniel Hicks why you must be very careful about how you treat the heirlooms. We lost Aunt Ivey’s clear glass pitcher with the yellow daffodils. Now only two of the large glasses remain from the original set.
True, our family is most unusual in the fact that we had so many maiden aunts and all their things remain with us and we have had minimal disastrous fires and we haven’t left Franklin County and so there has been no Diaspora of the heirlooms which pretty much remain in use. But if you don’t use the items and tell the stories what value do they have. Next year I think I’ll bring down all the big portraits and position them around the dining room as we commemorate the food of these people.
I had to completely and for all time store away the pre-Civil War honey bowl compote of an ancestor – used to store honey before sugar was available – after I managed to drop it; I have the glued / repaired relic. We had cornbread made with buttermilk; just no side of honey. We had the Violet Bray persimmon pudding of which Dorothy Long said: “In the fall, after a hard frost, Daddy would go into the bottoms and pick the persimmons. Aunt Violet would make the pudding. It was the best stuff you ever put in your mouth.” And we had the pleasure of Robert Long at table to eat his family’s dish. Buy our Sweet Heritage cookbook and you’ll get that recipe.
We had the Margaret Mattinson fruitcake faithfully served at my family’s holiday table for at least 30 years – first made by my mother’s friend Margaret Mattinson, our town baker, and now prepared each year by her daughter Dr. Bettie Herring.
And we had enough guests at the table who could still tell tales of those family members – long dead – who prepared the specific foods and whose dishes we used. It was a marvelous day. I share the experience to urge you to share the stories. If you don’t pass on these still remembered stories in the still remembered voices, a chapter of life here cannot be recovered.
This week, Bill Holmes wrote of a recent Sunday visit to my family’s church, the West New Hope United Methodist Church, out on the Cherokee Trace. Bill said: “I visited the church which my father joined 96 years ago.” Bill saw the same sights and vistas his father would have seen from the same windows in the same building. And I have the pickled peach bowl which was taken for a Sunday after-church luncheon in October 1914 when my great-grandmother’s home burned while she was at the church. I have the bowl and I can serve the pickles.
You like to think that the grandchildren are listening; too often they don’t know to ask the questions until the time is past. It’s certainly true for me. So many questions. I did pretty good at asking but I still have regrets. I’m determined to make sure that some of the stories get passed on whether asked or not. If I tell them enough maybe the nephews will remember.
This year the logo for the Texas Historical Commission carries a strong message about our state: “Real places telling real stories.” Let’s live that motto in Franklin County.
WHAT ELSE YOU WILL FIND ON THIS PAGE
A Listing of the Members of the Board of Directors and the Officers of the FCHA, The Organization's Mission Statement, and Its Goals and Objectives
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS (AND YEARS TERMS EXPIRE)
•Martha Hare (2016)
•Randall Higgins (2016)
•Elease Hubbell (2016)
•B.F. Hicks (2015)
•John Tutor (2015)
•Cynthia Loftis (2015)
•Lillie Bush Reves (2017)
•Nicki Armstrong (2017)
•Donna McFarland (2017)
OFFICERS FOR 2014
•President B. F. Hicks
•First Vice President Norm Horn
•Second Vice President Cynthia Loftis
•Third Vice President Donna McFarland
•Fourth Vice President Kay Howell
•Secretary Lillie Bush Reves
•Treasurer Mary Lou Russell
•Newsletter Editor Elaine Thomas
COMMITTEES 2014 - JOIN TODAY!
Special events: Jean Ann Marshall, chair
Committee includes Docent Training; coordination for tours and coordination for fund raising or other special events
Subcommittee, Docent Coordination for Firestation – Kenneth Greer, chair
Subcommittee, Docent Coordination for Special Events/ all other site visits – Jean Ann Marshall, chair
Publicity and Public Relations – John Stephenson, chair
Newsletter and Program Calendar - Elaine Thomas
Webmaster – John Hicks
Educational Outreach – Donna McFarland, chair for schools, general public, tourists, church groups, clubs
Facilities and Grounds - Lillie Bush Reves, chair
Site Review - Gary Strange, John Tutor, committee members
Historic Signs/Markers/Recognition – all significant sites properties - Libby Milton, chair
Historic Signs/Markers/Recognition Subcommittees:
Local Markers/property review & sign maintenance – Ron and Libby Milton, chairs
Historic Signs/Birding/Nature/Early Roads and Indian Trails - Lu Butler, chair
National Register and State Marker Subcommittee – Steve Hammons, chair
State Historic Marker, National Trust Registrations, State Historic Landmark Registrations, Historic Assets and Resources Inventory Committee - Lillie Bush Reves
Exhibit Coordination – Mary Lou Russell, chair
Exhibit Coordination Subcommittee for the Firestation’s Wilkinson Library and Bird Eggs - Lillie Bush Reves
Archives: Accession and Curation – Nancy Miller, chair
Documentation, computer records management (database for all facilities through management in Gertrude Smith House) - Nancy Miller
Documentation Subcommittee for the Meredith Collection – Nicki Armstrong, chair
Documentation Subcommittee for the Wilkinson Library - Elease Hubbell, chair
Finance and Budget – Norm Horn, chair
St. Clair endowment committee – Nancy Miller, chair
Landmark Commission Representation from Association – B.F. Hicks
Hotel/Motel Tax Representation from Association – B.F. Hicks
Main St. Alliance Representation from Association – designate from board by resolution
Texas Historic Commission Visionaries in Preservation Representation from Association – John Stephenson
Personnel - Jean Ann Marshall, chair
Vision and Growth - Cynthia Loftis, chair
Cemetery Recognition - B.F. Hicks and Martha Hare, co-chairs
Our mission is to preserve our natural and cultural heritage.
We will promote our mission by striving for four goals:
1. We will further appreciation and preservation of our heritage through involvement of all ethnic groups in our community in our endeavors.
2. We will endeavor to promote the economy of our county and community through a special emphasis on heritage tourism.
3. We will act to acquire, maintain, and preserve artifacts and records of historic significance, as well as provide museums and exhibit areas to display and promote education and heritage tourism in Franklin County.
4. We will promote the participation of our youth in the activities of this association; we will strive through education to further appreciation of our natural and cultural heritage; we will serve as leaders to assure the youth of today carry our mission forward in generations to come.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
1. All projects, exhibits and educational processes will relate to people, items, or events of historical significance to Franklin County. Artifacts and records will be determined to be of historic significance if they are 50 years or older. Homes and farmsteads will be determined to be of historic significance if built prior to 1918.
2. All projects will be prepared with a "Do It Right The First Time" mindset.
3. All projects will conform to the requirements specified by the Board of Directors.
4. Artifacts, records and, property which cannot immediately be determined to meet "historic significance" criteria will be reviewed by a committee to ascertain their historic value.
5. Develop, educate, and recognize employees and volunteer workforce.
6. Maintain all properties and grounds to set an example of "excellence."
7. Promote an attitude of pride within the community.
8. Recognize historic homes in Franklin County with historical signs if homes are maintained in the image consistent with our goals.
9. Acknowledge all donations by letter with a Gift of Deed document signed by the donor and an FCHA representative.
10. Review goals and objectives annually.