Below, you will find descriptions of the following books: Driving Mount Vernon, Reflective Rays, A Walk through Mt. Vernon, Sweet Heritage Cookbook, Early Days in Franklin County,
The Ties That Bind: A Georgetown, Texas Memoir (1904-1909), and Memories of Don Meredith and Hometown Mt. Vernon. Then you will see an order form that you can use to purchase copies of these publications. Whether you order one or not, at the bottom of this web page you will find a little treat which we know you will enjoy: the chapter entitled "Peak Experience," from the second book listed below, Ray Lloyd Johnson's Reflective Rays.
1. Driving Mount Vernon
The publication, Driving Mount Vernon, has just been released and is now available to FCHA members and the public in general. It gives a brief history of most of the commercial buildings in town as well as our historic homes. Over 200 names are mentioned and indexed in this 35-page booklet. It also includes sections of ghost stories covering the haunted houses in town. The booklet was compiled by Jean Ann Marshall, Mary Lou Russell, Lu Butler, Lillie Bush-Reves, B.F. Hicks, Jim Johnson, and John Tutor. Editing was by Jean Ann Marshall, Layout by Dylosh Design, and Illustrations are by Beverly Brewer. The driving tour of historic Mt. Vernon will highlight public buildings, historical sites and pre-World War I homes marked by the Franklin County Historical Association. A sign in front of each home has three information lines, the first is the name of the builder or early owners, the secnd the name of the current owners and the third the year of construction. Nice illustrations of the homes and historical buildings are included. Other sites and properties are mentioned and noted on the maps included. Included are stories of the town's haunted houses. Most of the buildings listed are private.
Cost of this one-of-a-kind treasure is $5, and it is available at the Fire Station Museum, B.F. Hicks’ law office, and Parchman House Headquarters. You may also print and use the order form below, on this page, to place an order for any of the five books described here.
2. Reflective Rays, by Ray Loyd Johnson
Over 100 pages cover the history of the community at mid-century through the eyes of a young boy. The stories are universal to life in this country and will be of interest to natives and newcomers alike. Over 700 people pictured throughout the book are listed in an easy-to-use index so that you can locate friends and family. You will be given a look at Mt. Vernon's buildings and businesses in 1940's and 1950's and find many pages of maps and photographs. It would be a great historic and genealogical resource tool.
See the bottom of this page for an excerpt, the chapter entitled "Peak Experience."
3. A Walk through Mt. Vernon
A nostalgic look at Mt. Vernon's buildings and businesses - past and present: Its 256 pages filled with photographs as you take a walking tour of the town. Neighborhoods and buildings are described with passages relating their history often spanning the past 150 years. The index of over 2,000 names guarantees that anyone with roots in Franklin County will find some mention of their family.
4. Sweet Heritage Cookbook
This is a delicious collection of dessert recipes and biographies from days gone by, a delight to both the baker and the genealogy enthusiast. You will find 157 recipes in this cookbook and they are printed exactly as they were originally written. For example: a recipe might call for a "low" oven, instead of a certain temperature; or butter, "the size of an egg," instead of a specific spoon or cup measurement. We have chosen to leave these recipes "as is" because it is felt that this is part of the charm of the cookbook and have elected not to modernize. Some comments are modern adaptations, however, and have been added for clarity.
There are lots of cookbooks on the market, but very few that give personal biographical sketches of the cooks and their families, including information about their homes and church affiliations.
5. Early Days in Franklin County
Compiled by B.F. Hicks, this is a collection of articles and personal recollections of Franklin County from the turn of the century. In the Introduction, Mr. Hicks remarks:
We are fortunate in having the complete files of the town's newspaper since its founding in 1909. In 1929, Col. Dan T. Bolin published a series of articles on Early Days in Franklin County. They are phenomenal. Col. Bolin was past sixty when he wrote the articles as a celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the organization of the county; he had a great recall and wrote with style. We have not changed the spelling of names as used in any of the articles. There are discrepancies in spellings, but people changed the spelling of their own names and we are not sure whether the spellings used by the authors are correct or not; the articles appear as originally type-set.
Also in the book are other articles on early history from the October 12, 1934, Sixtieth Anniversary Optic-Herald, a 1908 United States Department of Agriculture publication, "A Soil Survey of Franklin County, Texas," and a summary of county history by B.F. Hicks which was used as an introduction for the photographic history publication by Bob and Pat Wright with the Mt. Vernon Optic-Herald. There are numerous photographs, and over 400 names are mentioned in this 256-page history of Franklin County.
6. Memories of Don Meredith & Hometown Mt. Vernon
Written by Jean Pamplin, with Ray Lloyd Johnson and Jacqueline Bateman, this book tells of Mt. Vernon's hometown role in the making of a great professional football star. He is remembered by those who knew him before he became known to millions. Read about the boyhood and the growing up of Meredith, and learn about the hometown that many Mt. Vernon natives fondly recall. The book is available for $15.00 from Northeast Texas Publishers of Mt. Vernon or from the FCHA, either at the Meredith Exhibit in the Firestation Museum or by mail (see instructions below).
7. Kings of the Hilltop
By Gene Wilson, Old Boston Publishers, 2009
Available from the author at 3521 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 644, Dallas, TX 75219
This is a book about the quarterbacks of the SMU Mustangs and other gridiron greats of the team. Of course, our local interest is that Don Meredith appears on the cover, that he emerges as an important figure in the story, and that there are some very nice things said about him in the book.
Author Wilson grew up not far from here in New Boston, Texas, served in the Army, worked as sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News in the 1960s, had a 28-year career as owner and president of a major public-relations firm, and then began writing books, mainly about people from Texas, from the folks of small town New Boston to the fat cats of big-city life.
Order Your Gifts Now and Save!
You're probably in one of these books! And if you're not, you owe it to yourself and your family to learn a bit about your heritage. All sales benefit historical association projects and programs. They make excellent gifts.
You can purchase any of these at the offices of the Franklin County Historical Association at the Majors-Parchman House, at 701 S. Kaufman Street, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., Tuesday and Thursday, or call 903-537-4760 during those hours for more information. Books are also available at the Fire Station Museum, at 201 S. Kaufman, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., Tuesday through Saturday.
Shipping and handling for a postal address are included in the price for each one. If you would like to mail in your order, print the order form below for all items (you might want to select the text and, then, to copy and paste to Microsoft Word or another application in order to print only the form). Just send it along with your check to
P. O. Box 289
Mount Vernon, TX 75457
Number and Cost
____ x $5 = $ ____ Driving Mount Vernon - Soft Cover
____ x $15 = $ ____ Reflective Rays - Soft Cover
____ x $25 = $ ____ Reflective Rays - Hard Cover
____ x $10 = $ ____ A Walk Through Mt. Vernon - Soft Cover
____ x $20 = $ ____ A Walk Through Mt. Vernon - Hard Cover
____ x $15 = $ ____ Sweet Heritage Cookbook
____ x $10 = $ ____ Early Days in Franklin County
____ x $15 = $ ____ Memories of Don Meredith and Hometown Mt. Vernon
____ x $15 = $ ____ Kings of the Hilltop
Total Check $ ____
City, State, Zip __________________________________________
"Peak Experience," an Excerpt from Ray Loyd Johnson's Reflective Rays
I will try to capture the flavor of Mount Vernon life in the 1940's and 1950's with some "happenings" during that era. This summary is not meant to be complete. It just represents a few recollections that had significant impact on me. In later years, I learned such happenings are called "peak experiences," a term popularized by the educator A.H. Maslow. Growing-up in Mount Vernon, I had frequent peak experiences.
In the book, MEMORIES OF DON MEREDITH AND HOMETOWN MOUNT VERNON, several people reflected on how busy Mount Vernon was on Saturday. If you currently attend Country Fest in October, you get an idea what the crowd was like every Saturday during my growing-up years. Getting off the farm and having a day in town was a peak experience for rural folks---something like going to Disney World today.
By age five, the cowboy show at the Joy Theatre became a weekly adventure for me. Mother and I would go there every Saturday night because my father, Pete Johnson, kept his barbershop open very late. We would also go to the variety store near the blinking light. At the front of that store was a big glass candy counter with all kinds of colorful goodies. Just looking and wishing was a peak experience. Then we would wait in the car for Pete to close the shop, located across the street from the wagon yard. A large group of people congregated on the corner of Scott Street and Houston Street (Smokey Row). What I recall vividly is how happy these people seemed to be. They were not doing anything that required money but judging, from their laughter and merrymaking, a million dollars would not have uplifted their disposition.
Some town events ignited anticipation weeks before they even occurred, such as the Christmas Parade. Then there was the County Fair, a peak experience for everyone. North of the location where the glove factory was built was the Old Gym, a structure which had been used for basketball before a new high school opened in 1941. In the late 1940's, the Old Gym and surrounding area was the site of our County Fair, which featured exhibits, rides and games of chance. It seemed like all of Franklin County went to the Fair.
But the busiest single day in Mount Vernon happened every other year in July. That was Election Day, a day bursting with excitement. The local candidates had campaigned for months, and by June I had heard all the political talk at the barbershop. On Election Day, always on Saturday, an immense crowd gathered in town and awaited the results. Actually, "Election Day" was really the primary for Democrats. There was no Republican Primary. With heavy hangover from the Hoover Days, Republicans in Franklin County scarcely outnumbered unicorns.
If you are under the age of 40, you cannot comprehend the excitement generated by the annual unveiling of new car models. In the early 1950's, Mount Vernon had four car dealerships: Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, and Chrysler/Plymouth. Changes in car styling from one year to the next were sometimes striking. For example, in 1949 all cars completely changed; the 1953 Chevrolet did not resemble the 1952 Chevy; and the 1955 Ford was a total revision from 1954. On the designated day, usually in September or October, the models for the next year were shown with much fanfare. If you had the "old" model, you wanted a new car. My father had never owned a new car until 1949. From 1949 until 1962 he purchased six. Car sales reflected overall changes that came to Franklin County. Rural people changed from a "going to town on Saturday" way of life to one which enabled them to go places every day, including getting jobs off the farm.
At the two-story red brick grade school on Kaufman Street, we had peak experiences every day. There was no school cafeteria until my fourth grade year, which meant we either brought our lunch or went to town to eat. The Williams Café had hamburgers for a dime until inflation zoomed upward and the price went to 15 cents. Merle Hill's grocery store was located in the block that now houses the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald. He sold a double-dip ice cream cone for a nickel. Big dips. Now that was a real peak experience! Outside the Hill store, Maudie sat on the high sidewalk almost every day. Maudie was a huge woman - a very colorful character who was waiting for someone to buy her a cone. They did, and Maudie ate a lot of cones. So did I.
We had grade-school teachers - like Beth Cargile, Mary Lou Stringer, Gladys Lawrence, Edna Puckett, Eula Carter, and Mary Nell Henry - who were dedicated and made school interesting. The geography I learned from Laura Garner was as complete as subject matter presented to me in later college courses. Coach Wayne Pierce made a life impact on our class starting in sixth grade and continuing today. Principal Jack Henry had a way of mixing with students so that we felt he was one of us while maintaining his role as school authority. I could say as much about the teachers I later had in high school, and that includes the unique philosopher, Principal Rufus Bolger.
Each May, classes through eighth grade had "Picnic Day". We would leave school soon after the starting bell rang and returned that afternoon shortly before time to go home. For the lower grades, the outing was held within walking distance, like at the ball field. The eighth graders always got to go out of town on a bus; we went to Daingerfield State Park.
The seventh grade picnic was held at Parchman's Bluff. Most people in Mount Vernon today probably do not even know about Parchman's Bluff, located south of town off Highway 37 on private land. A high bluff over a small creek made this site seem like a geographic wonder equivalent to far-away places we had only heard about. In 1951 our class members anticipated the upcoming big day. Boys visualized thirteen-year-old girls running wild in the woods. It turned out that the girls did not run wild, so the boys impersonated our radio heroes, Tom Mix and the Lone Ranger, in taking the bluff from bad outlaws at the top. We knew how to adjust to most any situation and find adventure.
I don't know what games are played today on school playgrounds, but at the old red school, we boys had several: marbles, washer pitching, top spinning, and team sports of basketball and softball. Girls were not expected to get down in the dirt, but they did play such things as hopscotch, jacks, and jump rope, which the boys thought were very silly games. A class member who attended a county rural grade school told me in later years that at her small school, the team sports consisted of both boys and girls or else there would not have been enough for a game.
The annual Halloween Carnival was a really big deal for grade school kids. Each class worked hard to elect their girl "Queen" via points earned from money collected and farm produce brought to school. At the Halloween Carnival, each class Dutchess and escort (girl and boy) participated in the Queen Coronation. I was never chosen as escort because I was fat. In our class that honor was always given to Joe Don Meredith, who had an effervescent personality and could throw a ball, or to Jackie Clinton, who was handsome and cool, or to Bobby Campbell, who owned cows and was a math whiz. I didn't care because the carnival featured stew and pie for a quarter and that was better than walking with a dressed-up girl in the gym full of grown-ups watching.
In my early high school years, two events happened which had a lasting impact on my personal life. Superintendent Kennard B. Copeland was responsible for both. He purchased three table tennis tables for the school and built a tennis court. I felt compelled to participate in both sports although, at the time, I had never played either. One summer David Jack Bolger and I were on the tennis court nearly every day, stopping just long enough to go to the Jersey Queen. Each school day I played table tennis with Marshal Perritt, Billy Jordan and others. When I won the high school tournament, it seemed like the biggest personal achievement of my life. My dedication to these sports remained steady in future years. After turning fifty, I won more than 30 medals in Dallas and Texas Senior Games. I have won state championships in both sports, but had it not been for that initial spark at Mount Vernon, I might not have ever played either.
The core of one's values usually comes early in life. The peak experiences of our early years in Mount Vernon provided a perspective that affects our lives even today.