1970s a happening time in Madison County


Editor’s note: This is the second of two columns detailing events of the 1970s.

This Musing focuses again on local events from the fall of 1970. In last week’s Musings, I had an error, which I figure was caused by me getting interrupted and losing my train of thought. I had about Charlotte and Billy Wilson’s daughter, Karen, being born Sept. 18, 1970 that year. When I included the fact that she was now married, I gave her husband the wrong last name. He’s Bill Pine, and he and Karen do really live in Huntsville. I apologize.

A November Meteor held a photo of Madisonville High School’s 25-member football team plus the fact that they had finished in fourth place in District Play. Players were Frank McKenney, Jacky Anderson, Mike Warren, Keith Padgett, Sidney Nealy, David Hall, Billy Chenault, Victor Soliz, Wayne Clopton, Ken Restivo, Bobby Andrews, David Rigby, Alfred McNeil, Jimmy Wallin, Tom Wiley, Lynn Reed, Mike Tollison, Gary Richie, Billy Holcomb, Lonnie Zachary, Bill Cross, Paul Morgan, David Osterhout, Nolan Glass and Jim Locke. James Guess acted as head coach, Gayle Cosby as assistant coach, and managers were Grady Starling and Randy Parker.

Election day fell Nov. 3 that year. An article contained the fact that some Texas Democrats faced Republican opposition in statewide elections, which was newsworthy then. All locals ran on the Democratic ticket and had no opponents. County-wide candidates’ names and sought (or for some, incumbent) offices were J.C. Wells (County Judge), Marie Evans (County Clerk), and Inez Bates (County Treasurer). Running for County Commissioner positions were V.W. Buckhaults (Precinct 2) and L.A. “Babe” Windham (Precinct 4), and seeing Justice of the Peace positions were P.P. Rawlins (Precinct 1), W.L. Goree (Precinct 2), C.P. Batson (Precinct 3), and J.C. White (Precinct 4).

I enjoyed browsing the old ads. W.M. Cannon operated a Texaco station and Johnny Yeager a Phillips 66. Boney-Bass Chevrolet Co., in my time, was on the north side of Highway 21, opposite where Standley Feed’s garden center is now. Crossley Office Supply was about mid-block on the west side of The Square, and owned and run by Winn and Ethel Crossley and their daughter, Marian. The Carousel and Knight’s Five and Dime did business side by side on the east side, under the ownership of Frank and Betty Sue Knight. J.W. Viser Dry Goods was just south of those two, operated then by Jack Viser. On the north side of The Square, Snooky’s Grocery on the west end. Walker’s Pharmacy was where Walker’s Café now is. Oren’s Tick Tock Shop, offering watch and jewelry repairs, engraving, and layaway was to the left of Walker’s. The Bible, Book, and Gift Store, owned by Forrest and Wilda Mae Millings, was in the middle of that north side. Gunn’s Interiors was nearby, as was Burtis Drug. Stoddard’s, on the southwest corner of The Square at the edge of what is now the First Baptist Church’s lot, offered a 16-piece starter set of Desert Rose earthenware by Franciscan, for $16.95. If you still have those same dishes from Stoddard’s, I’d love to hear.

One ad that I loved offered to sell a horse, saddle and bridle, or trade them for a milk cow. The phone number given was (936) 348-6541, which now is listed for Nettles Cutting Horses. I think the number must have been someone else’s in 1970, because I can’t see Ronnie trading those items for a milk cow.

We didn’t spend near as much on food. Schiller Frozen Foods (which many of us called The Locker Plant), advertised a ten-pound box of chopped steak for $6.95. We could eat at the Corral Café from 5-11 every Thursday night and get all the fried shrimp we could eat, for $2.50, and that wasn’t buffet, but delivered hot to the table. Carter’s Dairy D’Lite offered a special on Thursdays and Fridays, a homemade barbecue sandwich on a big bun, for 39 cents. Only on Nov. 18-19, they’d give you a small hamburger for 29 cents.

Speaking of business, those were the days. A 1969 Chevrolet Impala Coupe, with power steering, power brakes, radio, heater and air conditioning was offered for $2,500. Inquiries were directed to First National Bank, specifically Datus Sharp Jr., Don Dean, or Ray Lee Reding. Moss Realty offered 50 acres of open land with a frame house, two stock ponds and road frontage on all four sides, for $275 an acre. If we could get a year-old car or 50 acres for three times those prices now, wouldn’t we be proud?

A local 175-acre deer lease, mostly heavily wooded and on the western end of Madison County, was advertised for $250, with no hunter limit. Some of you would jump at that now. I have it on good authority that today 10 times that sounds reasonable now.

Changing to the present now, the Museum offers for sale two cookbooks, both published by Madison County Historical Commission. Trying to get in the mood for fall cooking, I’ve been thumbing through both the ecru one, published in 2009, and the blue one from 2016. Though we have sold quite a few lately, we still have plenty for you to purchase for yourself or for gifts.

Earlier in that first one, I marked a recipe for sweet potato bread, submitted by Pearl Adams of Midway. I know a special redhead who will enjoy that. I also tagged LaMuriel Sharp’s submission for orange bread by her mother-in-law, Vera Sharp (1902-1988). The latter was my loving neighbor years ago and gifted me with orange bread several Christmases (it never lasted long.). Kathy Crouch sent a rice dressing recipe that I want to make. It’s attributed to her mother, Jane Cooper Crouch (1928-1970), one of our town’s great beauties. With pork sausage, onion, green pepper, and more, it has to be delicious.

I often start at the back of cookbooks, and the blue cookbook’s last page holds a recipe for homemade pork sausage, from Bill Cannon and Carl Cannon. My mind went back to hog-killing days of my childhood. You younger folks might not be aware, but folks had to hold off a hog-killing day until a good norther hit, to keep the meat cool. My mouth waters now as I think of cracklins, fresh Canadian bacon, and smokehouses of long ago. What about yours?

That volume also holds recipes for caramel corn, from Linda Hunter, and for Halloween Cracker Jacks. That last, with Dickie Westmoreland’s name on it, is followed by a bit of history. “During World War II, Dickie’s mother, Millie Westmoreland (1918-1996), made these Cracker Jacks for a Halloween treat, handing them out to ‘trick or treaters’ going house to house in homemade costumes. For each youngster, she put about a cup into a little brown paper sack and folded the top over. She always decorated the sacks with little jack-o-lanterns drawn with an orange crayon.” I’m hoping that info might get you in the mood for Halloween, and maybe send you to the kitchen.

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum curator Jane Day Reynolds welcomes your visits. Memorials or donations may be mailed to the Museum at P.O. Box 60.