How We Lived
In this book the author (with the help of a number of residents of Central Texas) has
tried to recall some of the practices of the past three quarters of a century. The
book does not try to pass judgment on these life styles. It uses a number of pictures
to enable this and future generations to better understand how their forefathers lived.
It also presents word pictures of life in specific families and at specific periods.
Mr. Poage believes that there has always been a great deal of diversity among the
living practices of individual families, as well as between regional and ethnic groups.
This book falls into three parts. The first eight chapters reflect what Mr. Poage views as the general practice of the era and the area. The photographs show a few of the living conditions of the times. The personal stories (including that of the Poage family) reflect the aspirations and the struggles of specific families.
W. R. "Bob" Poage
Bob Poage was born in Waco, Texas, December 28, 1899, son of William A. and Helen Conger
Poage. Mr. Poage's childhood was spent on a ranch in Throckmorton County, Texas. He
graduated from Waco High School. He attended Baylor University, University of Colorado
and the University of Texas receiving his A.B. and L.L.B. degrees from Baylor (L.L.D.
from Baylor in 1967).
Bob Poage was admitted to the Bar in 1924. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, 1925-1929 and of the Texas State Senate, 1931-1937. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1936 and served in that body 42 years until his retirement in 1978. He was Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture in the 90th through 93rd Congress.
Congressman Poage was instrumental in the establishment of the Poage Congressional Library at Baylor University. He is the author of several other books dealing with central Texas and its people including McLennan County Before 1890.
As a girl, my wife lived in a two room house on a rented farm. She walked two miles
to school. She knew the hardships of rural poverty. She attended "business school" and
worked as a stenographer.
Like thousands of others, she lifted her living conditions. She very well personified the spirit of Central Texas in the first three quarters of this century.
To the memory of Frances Cotton Poage, I lovingly dedicate this book.
"How We Lived" could mean "How everyone lived," and this book
is an attempt to give some idea of how all people lived in Central Texas during the
first four-fifths of the Twentieth Century-Roughly my lifetime-although this book
certainly tries to reflect the way the Poage family lived, primarily because I know
more about the everyday life of that family. I hope that the personal experiences
of my life are sufficiently typical to justify this assumption.
In the term "Central Texas" as used herein can be included everything from Austin and Bryan on the South to Abilene and Wichita Falls on the north and west. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has been deliberately omitted in as much as its life style has been so different from the less urbanized areas to the south and west. Frankly, this work centers around, but is not confined to, Waco because that has been the center of my experiences.
I was born in the city of Waco just three days before the beginning of the Twentieth Century. I lived in Albany, a small county seat, at two different times and on a ranch in Throckmorton County. I went to High School and to College in Waco and have made it my home during all my adult life. I have spent much time in Austin and in Washington, D.C., but Waco has been my home for 70 years, although I have always maintained my interest in rural areas both as an investor in livestock and as a member of the Congressional Committee on Agriculture.
My family was neither rich nor poor. As a boy, my friends included the sons of day laborers and of the oldest and richest families. As a politician, my life has of necessity (and I hope sincerely) included people in all walks of life. I have tried to observe how they lived. I hope I have been able to correctly record their modes of life, but realizing that no one individual could experience every situation of Central Texas life, I have asked several representatives of various backgrounds to record their peculiar life styles. Since we are all prone to best remember events of our childhood most of these have written of that period in their own lives. Recognizing that one picture is often "worth a thousand words," I have used a number of pictures. Some will seem very common place, but I find that many practices and implements of fifty or sixty years ago are even now difficult for younger people to understand. I am sure that in the Twenty-first Century the homes, tools, and machines which are commonplace today will be of great interest to the people of that generation.
Obviously, there have been great changes in our life styles. To some these changes have been seen as forerunners of doom. They deplore the increase in crime, the fatherless children, the loss of pride in one's work, the widespread willingness to incur debt, and the reluctance to save for the proverbial "rainy day." They predict the breakdown of the home and the collapse of organized government.
Others emphasize the tremendous transfer of burdens from men to machines and foresee a brilliant tomorrow. They believe that democracy and education will solve all our problems.
I am sure that each group can find much in a study of our past to substantiate its views. This work will not undertake to read the future. It makes no claim to do more than to present a few pictures of the past as a possible guide to what may be expected in the future. We can only be certain that changes will continue in the future and to hope that these changes will result in a better life for future generations.
Neil McLennan's Cabin
The first home in the county, built in 1847-1848. Site now in flood area of Lake Waco. This picture was made after the cabin had been "boarded up."
James Walker's House
Built in 1851 or 1852; then five miles west of Waco. Now in city limits and is the oldest house still occupied in Waco.
Where We Lived
What We Wore
What We Ate
How We Worked
When We Played
Where We Learned
How We Traveled
How We Differed
93 How We Lived
1910-1930; In the Home of a Country Doctor by Mrs. Maurice Barns
105 How We Lived
1905-1920; On A McLennan County Farm by Homer Warren
111 How We Lived
1900-1940; In A Developing Czech Community by Ed and George Smajstrla
115 How We Lived
1900-1920; In the Black Community of Marlin by Mrs. Mary Long Armstead
117 How We Lived
1925-1930; On "The Last Plantation" by James M. Warner
122 How We Lived
1910-1930; In the German Community of Westphalia by Ray Rabroker
125 How We Lived
1932; During a Drought in Fisher County by Dr. B. A. Freeman
131 How We Lived
1935-1945; In the Biggest House in Waco by Walter Dossett, Jr.
138 How We Lived
1947-1957; In an Old House in Bosqueville by Hon. Fowler C. West
151 How We Lived
1920-1940; As Minority Citizens in Mexia by Dr. Emma Louise McDonald Harrison
153 How We Lived
1900-1930; In a Jewish Family in Waco by Gus Levy
156 How We Lived
1960-1970;On the Edge of the Cedarbrakes by Hon. John Hastings
160 How We Lived
1972-1982; In a Latin-American Family near China Spring by Kathy Domingus
163 How We Lived
1902-1912; On a Throckmorton County Ranch by W. R. Poage