Locations used to be names, not numbers

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Editor’s note: This is the first of two columns highlighting locations of note in Madison County.

I’m still bogged down with one Musings and need to knuckle down, but that’s hard during the holidays. I’m writing this less than a week before Christmas. Recently a cousin who has lived elsewhere for 50 years asked me to email her photos of some homes and properties she loved long ago. That led me to the following.

I am always amazed when folks can rattle off highway numbers. They don’t stick in my head. I do well to remember 2289, 978 and 1452, and sometimes I can even recall 39, because I often use those in giving folks directions. If you tell me such as 977, 1428, 1696, 1372, I’ll probably ask, “Can you tell me who lives out that way?” The bad part of that question is that more than likely anyone I ever knew who did live in that area no longer does, or may no longer even live at all!

I spend lots of time in old newsprint. Sixty or 70 years ago, the Meteor had a weekly contest showing aerial views of farms in the county, one photo each week. The first person to recognize the place and call it in won a prize. Lately I’ve thought of a contest I could sponsor. Mine would say things like “Leave the red light by Brookshire’s heading north on 75. Go past where the old high school was, and turn left at the first street. Keep going to the second stop sign. Just past that stop sign, there will be a small warehouse on the right and then a house that I think is blue. Name the repairman who lived in that house for years.” Could you do that? There’s no prize today. The game would entertain some of us old folks and bring to mind some great-but-gone folks.

If I told you to drive to the brick house that Rufus and Ruby Wooley built, could you? It still stands at the corner of Amos and Bogan Streets; I used the phone book to look those up. Rufus and Ruby have not lived there in many years. I can’t find her date of death on Findagrave, but I’m sure it was in the 1980s. I remember standing at her grave near her bereaved mother. Rufus died in the last several years but I can’t locate his obit or grave information either. In the 60s he worked in Westmoreland Grocery and took college courses at the same time. He served on our Madisonville CISD school board in the 70s. Later he was a United States Postal Service employee for many years. I think Ruby stayed home and raised their 3 children, of which they were quite proud. Now I hear that Courtney lives in Conroe and Tony and Sharmaine in the Houston area. The home was more recently owned by Otha and Mary Florence McCoy, who have both passed on now, too. Their daughter Monica currently has that property. The Wooleys and McCoys were great folks.

If I asked you to meet me in front of the the home of the late Robert Junot (1926-1989) and his wife, Doryce (1930-1982), could you go there? When I thought of them today, it worried me because I couldn’t recall attending his funeral. I felt better when I searched and saw he died February 16, 1989. I know that my family and I were at my father’s bedside then, he was about to die, so I didn’t make it to Robert’s funeral. He would have understood.

Robert and Doryce Junot were my neighbors on Franklin Street 1977-1987. Their house still stands right behind The Tobacco Barn, but my house there is gone. They were GOOD neighbors. Mr. Junot worked for what was then Gulf States, and Doryce was a homemaker and loved to play bridge. They had twin daughters, Jackie and Jenny, and son Keith who was younger. Keith died this last November and Jenny before that. Jackie and husband Mike Colquitt live somewhere between here and Houston.

Part of the time that the Junots were my neighbors, I was pregnant and then a new mother. Robert always told me I should have twins, it was easy and you got it over with. He said when their girls were small, at night he’d always do the dishes or give the girls their baths, so Doryce wouldn’t have to do both chores. One afternoon in May of 1978, folks here learned that local resident Bud Waldrip had been murdered and his wife Maebelle wounded at their store on the corner of OSR and 75, and the sad news put many of us on edge. That night when I needed to leave my house after dark, I called Junot and said, “If you hear me scream, please come running.” As I backed out my driveway, I saw he had walked over into my yard, making sure I was safe. He was that kind of neighbor!

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, P.O. Box 60, Madisonville, TX 77864.

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