NEIGHBORS ON THE BOULEVARD

We had a Knock, Knock joke about the Pinchbecks, based on his name. It went "Knock, Knock!" "Who's there?" "Dacus." "Dacus, who?" "Da' cuss on Sunday." Katie and Dacus's only child, Eleanor "Teta" Pinchbeck Moore, lives in Dallas now.

One of the memorable trips I remember was to Galveston, Texas with my mother, Mary Kate Pinchbeck, her daughter Teta, Betty, Emily and me. Mother was driving and Mary Kate was in the passenger's seat. The children were in the back seat. As usual Betty was her energetic self and that day if there had been such a thing as Attention Deficit Disorder she would have been diagnosed as having it. She was an accident about to happen and was all over the back seat making lots of noise and moving around constantly. In those days there was no such thing as a seat belt to strap children in. It was bothering mother's driving and Mary Kate turned and said to Betty, "Betty, if I hear another peep out of you I am going to spank you." All was quiet for about 30 seconds. Then with a little mild meek voice Betty was heard to say, "Peep."

Katie was an aunt of my best childhood friend, Sissy. Teta was Sissy's first cousin. Sissy was named Jack Marr after their grandmother whose last name was Jack. We called the grandmother Mama Jack (Mrs. S. H. Jack). Even though her grandfather had a name, he was known as Papa Jack.

One of the joys of my childhood was playing with paper dolls. Nearly always, this was an item I would put on my list to Santa Claus at Christmas. The Five & Dime stores had paper doll books that one could punch out the doll figure, and there would be clothing on some of the other pages, so they had extensive wardrobes. One of the most popular was the Shirley Temple books. Also, the Dionne Quintuplets became over-night celebrities and one of their products was paper doll books. There were also cartoon characters, such as Betty Boop and Blondie, that were printed as dolls with a wardrobe in the Sunday comic section of our newspaper.

However, the most fun I remember, was being given an outdated Sears Roebuck Catalog to cut out of to my heart's content. Sissy and I would sit for hours, cutting out different setions that would represent a family -- little girls, little boys, teenaged boys and girls, a mother and a daddy, and then we would change their outfits by cutting out various clothing from all the sections of the catalog. This would entertain us for long periods of time.

Sometimes, we made our own paper dolls. Sissy had an Aunt Clara who would come to visit with her children sometimes and Aunt Clara was very talented. We would have her make the dolls for us and then we would design the clothing for the dolls she made.

About a mile behind my house were railroad tracks. I can remember hearing the train whistles, sometimes, in the middle of the night and knowing what time it was, because the trains were always on time. Sissy and I used to walk back to the tracks and place two straight pins crossing each other on the tracks and then wait until a train passed. The weight of the wheels would compress the pins together and when we picked them up, they looked like a pair of open scissors.

The McElwraths who lived directly across from us had a tennis court. We would go over and play tennis but the McElwrath boys were older than we were, so we did not include them in our play. We also used their tennis court to learn to ride our bicycles -- another activity that Sissy and I indulged in was bicycles. We each had our own bike and went all over town. We would pack a lunch, ride to a little park where we ate our picnic in the grove and pretended that we were on a long trip - world travelers in The Grove two blocks from home!

One of our favorite spots was the Corsicana Country Club which had a large lake in which we were allowed to swim. This was located at least five miles out of town just off a busy highway. But with our trusty bicycles we would wear our swim suits under our clothing and go to the lake to swim. We all swam a lot. There was a circular pool in Corsicana and we swam there on hot summer days. We called it the Natatorium and it cost 25 cents to swim as long as you wished. Our mothers came to supervise as there were no lifeguards. We all had bad sunburns from staying in the sun too long. We never learned our lesson because at the beginning of each season we all had sunburns. Later in our teens we learned to put iodine in baby oil and this would help us get a good tan. However, yours truly freckled even with the help of the baby oil and iodine.

Another memory from when I was growing up was of the hot tamale man. He had a little cart with large wheels on it that he pushed through the streets of Corsicana, yelling "Hot Tamales, Hot Tamales for sale." They were very good. They consisted of ground meat, seasoned with chili, rolled in cornmeal dough, wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Whenever I heard him coming I would run inside to Mother and ask if I could buy some. All of our family liked them, so the answer was usually "yes." Sissy's dad, Donald, was always a great joker and one day made the remark that he used to buy these tamales until he read in the paper that the tamale man's mother-in-law died and he never did see where they buried her. After that remark, I almost lost my appetite for hot tamales, because I was very gullible and believed every word Sissy's dad said.

Papa Jack was the first person I knew who died. His casket was in the home and I was allowed to go to the home but was not allowed to attend the funeral. I remember seeing the casket.

I was 14 when Papa Jack died and my father had already taught me to drive a car. Texas did not issue driver's licenses but my father had to sign an affidavit at the court house which indicated that he would take the responsibility for my driving.

Papa Jack owned rental properties, mostly on the other side of the tracks, and after he died I drove Sissy's grandmother there to collect the rents. Mrs. Jack's car was grand - a Willys Knight with beautiful upholstery. How I loved that car. I had learned to drive in my father's blue 1936 Ford.

In the chicken yard at our house on Park Row were two fig trees. We ate the figs fresh from the trees on our cereal. When we gathered the figs from the trees, we had to watch where we were stepping since we were in the chicken yard! Fig leaves were supposedly good for people with asthma. Sissy had hay fever and used to fill a sleeping pillow with leaves from our trees.

After I learned to drive, I was allowed to drive my friends around town. Fourth Street where it passed the junior high had deep dips in the intersections with other streets. Someone reported to my dad that I was "bounding through the dips" and I got grounded. My friends took turns. One of us would drive our family's car for an hour or so, then another girl would drive her family's car. Gasoline was 25 to 30 cents per gallon.