The Location Of My Visitors!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Randy, Ellen & Mama with Granddaddy at Granddaddy's 90th birthday at the Hamilton Warehouse in Dubach, La. 2007
What I did on my summer vacation! Do you remember writing that essay when you went back to school? My favorite summer vacations were always spent with my aunts. I’ve had lots of people that I called aunts during my life. Most were my aunts and some were my great aunts. All of them were fun to visit, especially during the summer.
My Aunt Ellen, my mothers little sister would always take me home with her to Dubach, La. when I was in grade school. My Aunt Ellen and Uncle Norman lived on Fuller Hill when they first got married and back then Fuller Hill was where most of your young married couples lived. Young families could afford to live on the hill because the rent ranged from $25-$40 dollars a month. Back then, even that money was hard to come by especially in Dubach. Most folks worked for the highway, gas plants, or oil fields.
My Aunt Bobbie and my Uncle Pete also lived on the hill. Aunt Bobbie is my daddy’s sister. They had two boys, my cousins Gary and Craig Couch. Next door to my Aunt Bobbie the Williams family lived; with kids Rene’ and Mike. Fuller Hill kids were tougher because they had to rule the hill. You probably aren’t considered a true native of Dubach if you’ve never lived on Fuller Hill. Mark Twain could have written Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn easily after a visit to the Hill.
One of my favorite parts of staying with my Aunts was being able to walk to the store by myself or with the gang of kids that ruled the Hill. “Mr. Johnny’s” was the store and to me it always had the smell of fresh cut meat on the butcher block and fresh vegetables lying in a bin in the center of the store. I can still remember the little shopping cart with the squeaky wheels on the old cement floor. Behind the counter you had a wide assortment of items that you may need from car fuses, fly swatters, hair rollers and cigarettes. But the best part of all was the penny candy, and the Coke box with the 5 cent Big Chief Chocolate Drinks and the Big Chief Red’s. I loved those and they have never tasted as good as they did when you were barefooted and covered in North Louisiana dirt. I can still hear the pop of the screen door on that old store as we would go in and out a million times a day with our pennies.
We played hard and we played all day on the Hill. The big kids built forts in the woods that were off limits to the little kids! With the help of my Uncle Pete a two-story fort was built for the younger kids. This architectural wonder was off limits to the big kids! The girls would just make houses out of pine-straw. We ate watermelon on the back porch in the evening, caught lightning bugs in jars at night, rode our bikes till they made us come in and got up early in the morning to start the day at Dubach’s Summer Recreation program. All of this with out wearing shoes. I don’t think we wore shoes all summer!
Summer Recreation was held in the gym of the old Dubach High School. Mrs. Tutter Colvin and Mrs. McKeithen were the ladies that supervised all the kids. We thought we could build the world, with Popsicle sticks, glue and glitter. I bet lots of mothers that have lived along Hwy. 167 still have their jewelry boxes or maybe a bird house or two that was constructed by kids in the early 60’s. These were cherished works of art. We had mosaics for the more advanced artist. I never advanced!
Most of the boys played basketball while the girls made their Popsicle stick master pieces. You sometimes got an occasional basketball right in the middle of your art work. I always sat on the top row of bleachers to keep this from happening to me. You would work for several days or even all week on your projects because they had to dry for quite awhile. We kept Elmer’s in business, due to all the glue we used.
I remember leaving the gym with some of the kids, my uncle, Randy Huffman, or my cousins, Gary and Craig. We would walk down to the train track that ran through the middle of town to lay our pennies on the tracks. We would try to go back the next day and pick up the flattened out copper spheres.
We would go to Ball’s pharmacy and sit on the floor to look at the comic books. If we had money we’d sit at the ice cream counter for our milkshakes or a cone. I loved to watch the Mexican Jumping beans that they sold. My Aunt Ellen would always buy me a package of them every time I stayed with her. I always wanted to bust them open to look inside but never did. Especially when my Cousin Craig told me it was worms inside that made them jump! I didn’t believe him then, but I guess he was right.
Another good place to go in Dubach back then was “Hamilton’s”. It seemed to me that this store had everything you could want in there. They had the little stripped canvas carry-all that you would pick up at the door to do your shopping with. My favorite thing in this store was the tradition that every kid got a free, big lemon cookie out of the Jack’s cookie container that sat on the end of one of the shelves. Later in life I found one of these cookie containers and bought it, just because of that memory of my childhood. Do kids today even know what a Jack’s cookie is?
My daddy’s other sister Betty Lou had a big family and we would load up in one of their big old cars and head to Ruston for Buck Night at the drive-in. We would take a blanket and load the car up and head out. Do you remember the mosquito coils that you burned at the drive-in? All the kids would lie on the blanket on top of the car. I don’t think cars today could take that much weight on top of them with out caving in. We also would go to the Dubach skating rink. This was an old building with a huge fan in the wall, at one end and holes in the floor at the other. This was one of the best places to me as a kid. You could bring your own 45’s and pick them up and the end of the night. The closest thing that Minden had to this was the Sibley skating rink. It was about the same set up and was the cool place to hang out on Friday and Saturday night. My Mama would drop me and my friends off and threaten to kill me if I went outside. The kids that smoked hung-out outside. We were younger so we didn’t venture out too much! I think the building is still there where Tharpe’s wrecking yard is.
My Great Aunts had dairy farms or drove school buses in Hico, La. this was a good place to go too. One of my great, great aunts; Armour Hood, dipped snuff and could spit all the way across the room to hit a spittoon. She was also an avid watcher of Jack Lelane. We would do jumping jacks and she would spit across the room. I was always amazed at her aim. Her son, my cousin, Reese Hood lives in Minden today.
My other Great Aunt, Inez Barnett, had dairy cows. Her barn was always where you spent all your time watching them milk the cows before the electric milking machines were put into use. I would sit on a stool with cats all around me. She would shoot me with milk as she was milking. I was never good at learning to milk a cow. I did once fall through the hay bails in the barn and about had a near death experience. I didn’t climb on the hay after that. She had an out-house back then and I hated that thing. They later did get indoor plumbing but I still remember taking a bath in a #3 washtub on the back porch! She had a little house in the back they called the “Brown House” and I loved to sleep out there when we stayed overnight. I remember the old iron bed and kerosene light. It seemed the smell of fresh hay in the barn was always so strong, especially at night.
The other day I went to Dubach and cried all the way home. They highway department has made a lot of progress. I think they have killed Dubach. I always thought two lanes were plenty! How many lanes do you need to get to Ruston or El Dorado? They have taken almost all the houses, buildings and the school that I remember as a kid and torn them down. Downtown still has a few businesses but not like its hay-day. Fuller Hill is long gone.
The memories still remain for anyone that ever had the privilege of living on a limited income and with the love of lots of family members that were all so close it didn’t matter if you were staying with your mom’s side one night and walking down the street to your dad’s side of the family the next night. We were all one big family and we still are. Even though some of the ones that I remember so fondly are gone now they will always be in my memories and a part of our family!
Dubach Restoration and Beautification Organization has done an amazing job in trying to give Dubach life, DRABO is alive and well and the Dubach Chicken Festival is a great gathering of “Dubachians.” It is a place and a time to remember the old times and the old places. If you are from Dubach you want be sure and be at the Chicken Festival on Saturday September 25th or any other events that are scheduled to promote Dubach. The Hamilton Warehouse is a great old building that is a wonderful place to rent for family reunions, etc.
I have lots of great memories of Lincoln parish summers and this is only a small part. Dubach will always have a special place in my heart. Maybe later I will remember more until then I will be seeing you down the road.